Thursday, 8 January 2009
Satwell and Greys Court
The walk begins at The Lamb Inn in Satwell, a few yards off the Reading-Nettlebed road at Satwell. The Lamb is owned by the chef Antony Worrall Thompson and we enjoyed an excellent lunch there when we had finished walking.
Leaving The Lamb, you quickly turn into the first of several sections of beechwood. From here, the route passes through woodland and fields of the Nettlebed Estate and the along tracks to Bromsden Farm. You then descend into more woodland, walk along a wide drive between fir trees ....
.... past a lake (frozen today with puzzled-looking mallards wandering along on top of the ice) along fields, and then through the splendidly named Famous Copse (famous for being Famous?). Then through more fields to enter the park of Greys Court, with excellent views of the house itself (see below).
A steepish climb leads to a further sequence of woodland-fields-woodland and the Lamb Inn again.
From: Pub Walks for Motorists: Berkshire and Oxfordshire by Les Maples (Countryside Books).
Map: Explorer 171 (Chiltern Hills West).
Rating: Four stars. Interesting and varied. Would be even better in spring or especially autumn.
We were transfixed by this warlike sculpture on the edge of a field at Bromsden Farm. It appears to represent Bellerophon on the winged horse Pegasus, although the rider's appearance is more like a sixteenth century Spaniard than a figure from classical mythology.
Closer inspection revealed that the sculpture was made of fibreglass and that both its wings were broken. There is no doubt a story behind it, but it certainly livened up this section of the walk.
Greys Court is a Tudor manor house, with the vestiges of a fourteenth century castle in its grounds. The Great Tower, which dates from 1347, can be seen on the right in the picture below. The two visible towers are at one end of the walled garden of the main house, which out of sight to the left.
Other interesting features are a Tudor wheelhouse in which a donkey was used to draw water from a well, a Victorian ice house and fine plasterwork.
The house is owned by the National Trust but closed for refurbishment until April 2010, although the garden is open between March and September.