Saturday, 21 March 2009



Just time for a short walk this morning. This one starts in nearby Southend Bradfield, a sprawling village with some nice Victorian buildings, and one or two older cottages. You head north across fields and along a lane towards the River Pang. Along the lane I made a detour to seek a glimpse of Bradfield Hall.

I could only see the rear, but it is clearly a rather unusual construction. Pevsner says that it dates from 1763 and describes the entrance side as being "curiously informal", so maybe I didn't miss much. The building with the cupola is the stables.

Leaving the lane, you cross a field and walk by a wood to join the banks of the Pang. I was pleased to see a Greater Spotted woodpecker on the way. This photo looks back (west) along the Pang, with the Berkshire Downs on the horizon.

On the right bank is first the playing fields of Bradfield School and then the school itself. The school was founded in 1850 and the dining hall has stained glass by Burne-Jones. The building on the right is the chapel, which Pevsner thinks is "architecturally the best the school has to offer" and is by John Oldrid Scott, a son of the great Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott (St Pancras Station, Albert Memorial).

Finally, you reach Bradfield village with the mainly Victorian St Andrew's church (Sir G G Scott) and some pretty cottages by the river - for a moment, you could be in the Cotswolds.

The return route follows the road in front of the school and then passes through a golf course and fields. There are very pleasant views over the Pang valley.

From: Waterside Walks in Berkshire by Nick Channer (Countryside Books).

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading Wokingham and Pangbourne).

Rating: three and a half stars.


Usually I just approach new walks as a voyage of discovery and see what turns up. If there are any interesting buildings I look them up in my collection of Pevsners when I get home. Today for some reason I had quick look at what the great man had to say about Bradfield and noticed the entry on Bradfield Hall. A quick look at the map revealed that it was quite close to the route of the walk. I suppose it's like being on holiday: it's better to read the guidebook before you go as that way you are less likely to miss something worthwhile.

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