Sunday, 10 August 2008
Newbury to Chieveley (Berkshire Way 5)
Stage five of the Berkshire Way: Newbury to Chieveley (6.75 miles). The walk begins at Victoria Park in the centre of Newbury and then heads northeast to Shaw. We diverted off the official route for a glimpse of Shaw House, an Elizabethan mansion now splendidly restored and owned by West Berkshire Council.
The footpath continues from a housing estate on the edge of Shaw and then all of sudden you are in open country. A long straight stretch across fields heads then due north. I walked this stretch in the opposite direction as part of a circular walk from Shaw earlier in the year. It is delightfully open with views across rolling countryside.
Just before the village of Curridge you head west along a lane and cross the A34 Newbury Bypass. The you swing north along more lanes until you reach woodland beside the M4. After crossing the motorway a track across corn fields brings you to Chieveley.
Rating: three and half stars. Quiet nicely varied, but too much tarmac.
Map: Explorer 158 (Newbury and Hungerford).
More of a "sounding" really, but in the early part of the walk we were conscious of a curious crackling sound as we walked along the edge of cornfield. Insects? Small animals? No, we decided - corn drying out in the sunshine following a shower.
Later in the walk we came on this fierce charging pony.
Ok, he was just coming over to see if we wanted to feed him. This was at Snelsmore miniature Shetland Pony stud.
The really striking thing about this walk was the number of barn conversions. We passed about five separate farms and, so far as I can remember, all had at least one barn conversion. One had no less than six separate properties made in this way. They were generally very nicely done, but with the strange sense of a development of terraced homes in the middle of the country.