Sunday, 25 January 2009

Finchampstead (Fleet Copse and Rectory Farm)

St James's Church

This five mile walk begins in the California Country Park and heads south across fields before, taking a turn south-west along a lovely fenced track which provides very nice views over the rolling Berkshire hills for a mile or so.

Crossing a road, you then follow an unmade up road with houses on both sides which leads to a farm. From here, you skirt Fleet Copse, walking along the edge of a large field. Unfortunately, following heavy overnight rain, this field was waterlogged and very muddy, so very hard work. We tried to make ourselves believe it was good for us to have the extra exercise. We saw some disturbing signs on the boundaries of the copse: "Dogs worrying stock will be shot".

From here, you pass through Finchampstead village, bypass a farm and arrive at St James's church. According to Pevsner, the brick tower dates from 1720, but the body of the church is Norman, while some windows and arches are Perpendicular from 1590 or thereabouts. The ochre wash is unusual and attractive.

After passing the nearby pub, a descending track takes you back to the main road (Nine Mile Ride) and the entrance to the country park.

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading).

From: Rambling for pleasure Around Reading second series, by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers Association Group.

Rating: three stars. Some nice tracks and views, but several undistinguished sections.

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