Sunday, 19 April 2009
Mapledurham: Newell's Lane and Chazey Wood
This 4.75 mile walk starts by the well-known Pack Saddle pub on the A4074 at Mapledurham, north of Reading. After walking a short way further along the road you turn left and cross the middle of a field. The farmer had simply seeded the whole thing and not left a line for the path - this is now quite unusual around here. You skirt a copse, cross a road and enter a sunken track, Newell's Lane. This runs along the edge of a golf course for a while but before long you reach a farm and beyond it enter Park Wood.
Looking towards the wood across the field as you approach it seems curiously dark between the trees. As you get closer it becomes clear that this is the result of a dense concentration of blue bells.
At the further end of Park Wood you come upon what the guide laconically describes as "the monument". This is a tall brick plinth with a statue on the top. A bit of googling unearths the information that the statue if of Pan and is said to have been instigated by Alexander Pope, a friend of the ladies of Mapledurham House. As ever, one is left with further questions - the most obvious being, "why?" The area around the monument is sadly overgrown and it is only directly visible from behind, or looking up from immediately below.
From here, a winding path descends to the park which surrounds Mapledurham House. Park Wood is on the right in the photo.
You walk away from the house along the first of a series of concrete estate roads. As you glance back, the house gradually becomes fully visible.
Two further sections of concrete road lead up through Chazey Wood, then a green track passes through the gold course to return to the start.
From: Rambling for pleasure around Reading (first series) by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers.
Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham and Pangbourne).
Rating: three stars. Nice countryside, but spoilt a little by the golf course and the excess of concrete.
A good crop of butterflies: brimstone, comma, orange tip, speckled wood, peacock, small white. Kites and buzzards overhead - the former very low. Lesser periwinkles, wild garlic, ground ivy and greater stitchwort by the wayside.