Monday, 5 May 2008

Upper Woolhampton, Douai and Beenham

Douai Abbey

This is an interesting short walk which begins outside Elstree School in Upper Woolhampton. A track and a path through a wood take you to the hamlet of Kiff Green, and then another track skirts Douai Abbey, passes through High Wood and brings you to a housing estate on the edge of Beenham. This is the low point of the walk, but the route soon passes the peaceful St Mary's Churchyard and a sequence of tracks, copses and farms to return to Upper Woolhampton by St Peter's Church. It was a muggy afternoon, with birdsong and bluebells being the dominant themes.

Bluebells in High Wood

Below are St Mary's church Beenham and its churchyard


Rating: three and half stars.

Rambling for Pleasure: Kennet Valley and Watership Down, by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers’ Association Group.

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


Yes, it is a wolf. The walk passes the Wolf Conservation Trust. The sign is quite discrete, so the first sight of this creature and his two mates was quite exciting.

Douai Abbey

The Benedictines were expelled from their Community in Douai in northern France in 1903. This sounds like an event from much earlier in history. A bit of internet research reveals that Republican politicians in France passed the Law of Associations which provided that all congregations of religious had to apply for authorisation or be dissolved. The full story can be found here.

The Abbey Church was consecrated in 1933 on completion of the neo-Gothic sanctuary and choir (see photo above). The church was completed in 1993. It is in truth an odd-looking structure.

More information on the Abbey can be found on the Abbey's website.

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