Walk 411 - Hook, West Green and Rotherwick
Borough Court, between Hook and West Green.
On the Sunday between Christmas and the New Year, eight of us (including three from the Pang Valley group) met up at Hook railway station for a nine-mile walk. We started by heading south out of Hook and into Bartley Heath.
After squelching across the heath, we followed Holt Lane back into Hook and out again, heading north, passing Hook Mill and Borough Court. Here we turned east and made our way to West Green House.
Crossing a field at Damale's Farm, near West Green.
Passing West Green Gardens, we noticed a few brightly coloured giant decorative flowers, but the gardens weren't open to the public. They are only open during the summer months and just before Christmas.
Here we joined the Brenda Parker Way, named after a lady who did a lot of work for the Ramblers during the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in the Hampshire area.
Stopping for lunch in woodland at Street End Copse.
Now heading west, we passed through Damale's Farm, crossed the River Whitewater and the B3349 Reading Road, before stopping for our picnic lunch by Street End Copse. We found a suitable fallen tree to act as a bench to sit on.
After lunch, we continued to follow the Brenda Parker Way passing the Rotherwick fishing lakes and Runten's Farm, through some very muddy fields, before arriving at Rotherwick. Here we stopped off for refreshment at the Coach and Horses.
A tree of red baubles in Newnham.
Leaving Rotherwick, we also left the Brenda Parker Way to head south through the golf course at Tylney Hall. There were very few golfers visible, but we made sure they were aware of us before crossing the course.
Passing through woodland behind Tylney Hall, we followed Park Lane to Newnham. At Newnham, we saw an apple tree in someone's garden, which was bare apart from a large number of red Christmas baubles. Very nice!
Finally heading east, we left Newnham and crossed Owen's Farm (more mud) into Hook. A bit of road walking (less mud) took us to the centre of the village, where the walk ended. See our route on Google Maps.
Walk 408 - Speen, Snelsmore Common and Bagnor
The two parties joined here on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
We had our BWW Christmas lunch on Saturday 7th December, which was optionally preceded by a 7.5 mile walk. The walk started from two different locations! Eight of us (plus two dogs) started from outside the Hare & Hounds Hotel in Speen, while seven more started from Newbury railway station, but we soon joined forces to do most of the walk together.
I was in the party that started from Speen, which was led by Mike. We left the Hare & Hounds and took an alley way between the A4 Bath Road and Speen Lane, a much quieter road, which we followed followed for half a mile before heading south on a footpath that crossed the River Kennet and then the Kennet & Avon Canal.
The Lady Well. A natural spring feeding a stone trough.
After crossing the canal, we waited briefly for the other party, which was led by Alison, to join us. All of us then followed the canal towpath westward for a mile, crossing the canal at Enborne Bridge. As we approached the bridge where the A34 Newbury bypass crosses the canal, we left the towpath and followed a rather noisy path that followed the dual carriageway for a short distance.
We joined the Lambourne Valley Way and passed the 'Lady Well' (a natural spring emerging into a covered stone trough) on our way back to Speen. Next we headed north-west, crossing through the golf course at Donnington Grove Country Club to reach Donnington Castle.
The remains of Donnington Castle, near Speen.
The twin-towered gatehouse is all that stands of this 14th century castle although the footings of the walls are still there. The view across to Newbury is quite impressive from here. Continuing north-west, we crossed the A34 and passed another bit of the golf course on our way to Snelsmore Common.
This mixed woodland was quite muddy with parts of some paths being waterlogged, but that's to be expected this time of year. Looping back, we left the common and passed part of the golf course again as we made our way to the picturesque hamlet of Bagnor.
Sitting down for our Christmas lunch.
Passing by the old cottages and pub, we left Bagnor by crossing the River Lambourn at Bagnor Bridge and then crossing under the A34 dual carriageway before arriving back at Speen. See our route on Google Maps.
After changing out of our muddy boots, those who had arrived by train were able to leave their boots and rucksacks in the cars of those who had driven to Speen, so that we were all quite presentable when we entered the Hare & Hounds. There we met up with other members of the group, who hadn't done the walk, for a quick drink before our Christmas lunch.
Thank you to Mike and Alison for leading this walk and to Jane for organising the meal.
Walk 405 - Turkey Walk with a Twist
Saying hello to a donkey.
Fourteen walkers including the leaders, Ann and Kathy, attended the Turkey walk with a twist on Sunday 10th November. Two people were new to walking with the BWWs.
This walk was a shorter version of our original turkey walk, although not as short as we had advertised. When plotting this new version, it was 9.2 miles, but because of some accidental variations to the walk, it was a bit longer than planned. We apologise if the longer walk inconvenienced anyone.
Lunch stop at Bradman Wood.
We left Pinkney's Drive car park to walk through the woods to pick up the main path heading left and skirting Robin Hoods Arbour, passing through Stubbings Farm on the way to Burchetts Green. We took a footpath to the left which took us past the engineering works. Then we followed the designated footpath over the field through the Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) past Hall Place to see the Emus and Wallabys. Unfortunately there was no sign of the wild cats and red squirrels.
Turkeys at Copas Farm.
Taking the path over the field up into to High Wood, we turned right onto a permitted path which lead around Black Horse Lodge. Unfortunately we took a wrong turning and ended back at BCA. Thank you to Laurence, who knew an alternative path that would avoid doing the loop again, we picked up our route at Spleen Hill. Walking through Temple Golf course we kept left, skirting the road continuing into Bradnam woods where we decided to have our picnic lunch stop.
Autumn colours on display.
We followed footpaths through Inkydown, Fulness and Quarry woods arriving at the star event, the Copas Turkey Farm, and the turkeys did not fail to amuse us. We continued our walk through Cookham and Bigrith common, passing through a residential area, we then walked over Cookham Dean common, skirting Winter Hill road, before picking up the Chiltern Way taking us though Pinkney's Green to the Golden Ball pub.
We decided not to stop at the pub as we thought the light would be fading after a pub stop, so we made our way back to Pinkney's drive car park.
Thank you to Ann and Kathy for leading the walk and writing it up.
Walk 403 - Bix and Maidensgrove Common
A couple of stags going head-to-head.
Dan is a member of the Berkshire Walkers 20s & 30s group, but sometimes leads walks for us (the BWWs). He led one for us on Sunday 20th October. A mixture of BWs and BWWs made up the fifteen people on his walk, which started at Middle Assendon, north of Henley-on-Thames.
We headed up the steep fir tree lined avenue that joined White Lane, taking us to Bix Common. Soon we were in the Bix Underwood plantation, doubling back through Halfridge Wood as we reached Crocker End. As we emerged from the wood, we were greeted by an unusual sight.
Stopping for lunch by the ruined church at Bix Bottom.
Two young stags going head to head! They were so engrossed in their battle for supremacy that we were able to get quite close before they fled into the wood. The fight had been going on for some time before our presence broke it up, but luckily no blood had been drawn.
We stopped at the remains of St James' church, Bix Bottom, to look around and have our picnic lunch. This ruin has had some recent work done to preserve what's left of it and I believe that the occasional service is held there.
Crossing Westwood Manor Farm.
Heading up through Warberg Nature Reserve and Westwood Manor Farm, we reached Upper Maidensgrove, where we stopped for a drink at the Five Horseshoes pub. Refreshed, we returned via Russell's Water Common, Maidensgrove Scrubs and Warmscombe Lane, from where we had an aerial view of the church ruins we'd stopped at earlier.
Descending to the B480 road that passes through Middle Assendon, we doubled back and crossed through Little Bixbottom Farm, taking a longer route to Middle Assendon that avoided a walk along the main road. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Dan for leading this interesting walk.