Sunday, 24 August 2008

Bury Down to Lardon Chase (Berkshire Way 7)

Oxfordshire from the Ridgeway

Stage 7 of the BBC's Berkshire Way runs long the Ridgeway from Bury Down, north of West Ilsley to Lardon Chase, on the edge of Streatley. This represents seven and half miles along a single signposted path. You can't go wrong - there is just one place where the Ridgeway is the left turning at a junction, rather than straight ahead as you expect, and one final right hand turn off it across a golf course to the car park at Lardon Chase.

You set off on a broad ride with wide views over the flat Oxforshire countryside, cross the A34 and walk through farmland with horse gallops. You cross a bridge which is one of the last remains of a dismantled railway - presumably but for the Ridgeway it would have been converted into a path or cycle track.

The next section is a bit more enclosed, but creates pleasing views looking back towards open country ...

... and forward as the path wends downwards towards Streatley and the Goring Gap.

You pass the impressive gate posts of Thurle Grange.

Thurle Grange

Soon after this you turn right to cross the golf course, ringing various warning bells as you pass by. The views back towards Thurle Down, which runs parallel to the Ridgeway, are delightful.

Thurle Down

So we are now half way - in stages at least - and we have walked 44 miles in total.

Rating: Four stars - but see below.

-->Explorer 158 (Newbury and Hungerford).


This was a really excellent walk, but for part of the way we felt a sense of slight - what?, frustration? disappointment? On reflection we realised that the problem was a lack of reference points. Walking along looking out over a vista of open country, with neither natural nor man-made landmarks, we felt we were missing something. We felt we wanted some reference points by which we could orientate ourselves and measure our progress. When we came on the section of the Ridgeway we have previously walked we felt better - here was the track that led to Starvall Farm, there was the track towards Aldworth where I took some pictures of the Goring Gap.

I have an evolving list of the things that make for a good walk and now I see that this is one of them - a sense of where you are, relative to the major landmarks. I think that's why I don't really enjoy walks which are wholly within a wood.

No comments: