Monday, 29 July 2019

Snelsmore, Bagnor, Winterbourne

An enjoyable, but somewhat chaotic, walk with our friends Gillian and Russell. The main problem was that we missed the intended path towards Winterbourne and only got our bearings when we passed the watch tower (above) and reached the southern extremity of the Country Park. As walk leader I decided that the best solution would be do the planned walk in reverse and start by walking southwards to Bagnor.

Our first sight was this rather splendid house.

We followed a lovely wooded track and emerged at Bargnor, passing behind the celebrated Watermill Theatre, where we recently saw a fantastic performance of The importance of being Earnest.

The path continued across a large field where Gillian encouraged a flock of doves (?) to burst into flight.

This led into a woodland path which soon gave way to farmland. Mount Hill lay ahead and we spent some time debating the crop in the field on our left - was it corn or not? Late we me some farm workers who told us that it was a new type of wheat.

After Mount Hill we continued between more fields with a fine view across to Winterbourne Church.

We walked across Boxford Common and turned right onto a road then left at the wonderfully named Mud Hall Cottage. We following a poorly marked path to reach Borough Hill when we headed east towards Winterbourne, passing a classic black sheep, seemingly isolated by the other members of the flock.

On the edge on Winterbourne we passed this interesting barn style development ...

... to then reach the church of St James the Less, a medieval church with 19th and 20th century restorations. Googling suggests that there is some confusion as to exactly who St James the Less was.

We passed the 19th century Manor House and headed towards the village, passing a lovely flower meadow on the right. Curiously, there was no sign of any butterflies.

In Winterbourne, we were sad to see that the local pub had closed and was slated for a change of use to residential.

Now across fields to reach Winterbourne Holt and through woodland on the edge of the Country Park where we finally worked out where we had gone wrong. It was revealed to be a combination of lack of clear signs and of common sense on the part of the walk leader.

Conditions: sunny and warm.

Distance: six miles plus at least another half mile stumbling around in search of the right path.

From: Kennet Valley and Watership Down (Rambling for Pleasure series, produced by East Berkshire Ramblers).

Rating: four stars. It was both pleasing and surprising how rural this bit of country felt, despite the occasional sounds of the A34. Doing the walk in reverse was a good test of my map reading skills, which were fortunately up to the challenge.

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