Saturday, 9 February 2008

Mortimer to Silchester

St Mary the Virgin, Silchester

An early start on a cold but sunny Saturday morning took us from the centre of Mortimer in Berkshire south across the county boundary to Silchester in Hampshire. After leaving the edge of Mortimer via the wonderfully named Summerlug, a track leads down to a small brook, across a field and on through the delightful Nine Acre Copse, via more fields to Silchester. We last did this walk in June.

Bypassing the amphiteatre, we visited the church which dates from 1150 and is situated within the walls of the one time Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum. Inside there are beautiful thirteenth century wall paintings of flowers in the window recesses and this modern stained glass, which looked radiant in the sunlight.

We then completed the mile and half tour of the walls of the Roman town. The first picture shows the walls as seen from the churchyard and the second shows them from Church Road, which runs alongside the walls for a while. A wonderful tour round which put us in mind of Lucca, although in Lucca there is a thriving small city inside to look at as you go past. Here all you can see is grass.

And oak trees - there are some splendid specimens along the line of the wall, like this one below. I owe my heightened sensitivity to this to "Meetings with remarkable trees" which I read recently and reviewed.

From: The Mortimer-Silchester route is from Rambling for Pleasure: Around Reading second series by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers’ Association Group. We added the walk around the walls and modified the route home.
Rating: four stars.

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne).

Wonderful brickwork near Summerlug


The Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum dates back to the first century AD and the walls to AD 270. The full story of the site is available on the University of Reading website. It is unique among Roman towns in Britain for being completely abandoned - all you now see is the remains of the walls and grassy fields.

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