Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Mortimer/Silchester (Roman Amphitheatre and Foudry Brook)

The Roman Amphitheatre, Silchester

You start the walk by Mortimer church, leaving the village by a series of unmade up roads and paths. You head south along a pleasant farm track then through a wood and across fields to reach the edge of Silchester and the splendid Roman Amphitheatre. The return leg follows a track and then a small road for a while before turning off to join the bank of the Foudry Brook to return, through fields, to Mortimer. The final section passes through a small pine wood and crosses the large grass area known as the Fairground. 5 miles.

A nicely varied walk with the added interest of the remains of the Amphitheatre, although some imagination is required as there is now (as the photo shows) only an open space with a raised mound around it. The walk can be usefully extended by going on into Silchester, past the church and waling the circuit of the old roman walls. This is a real delight.

Rating: three stars.

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

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne).


Not very good conditions: early evening and an incipient thunderstorm. Lots of Meadow Brown butterflies took flight as I passed by. And, sadly, what I can only describe as a pile of 5 dead baby rabbits by the side of the track in one place. What on earth can have accounted for that?

The Roman Amphitheatre

A helpful sign reveals that the Amphitheatre was built between 50 and 75 AD and was used for executions, gladiatorial combats and wild beast fights. However, this exciting description is undermined by the next paragraph which says that the evidence is in fact unclear and that most of the bones recovered were of horses. The Roman name for Silchester was Calleva.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Reading/Pangbourne: Westbury Farm and Sulham Woods

View towards Purley and the Thames Valley

The walk starts in Tilehurst on the edge of the Reading built-up area, but almost immediately enters surprisingly open country with a great sense of space and lovely views over towards the Thames valley. The path crosses the main road and the railway to skirt the unlovely village of Purley, cuts the edge of Pangbourne and returns via Sulham Woods to Tilehurst. The bit on the edge of Pangbourne is very suburban (and not worth including), but overall this is a delightful stroll, mainly through fields and meadows. 5 miles overall.

Rating: 3 stars.

From: From: Rambling for pleasure around Reading (First series) by David Bounds for East Berkshire Ramblers' Association group.

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham and Pangbourne).


A number of personal and work issues on my mind today, so no great thoughts about walking or nature. However, I returned home feeling calmer about the personal stuff and with some clear things to do in relation to two work projects. Part of the magic of walking.


Some nice butterflies: small white, meadow brown (appropriately, given that the walk passes through a significant number), small tortoiseshell, red admiral, another painted lady and today's stand-out, a marbled white.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Barkham Church and the Combes

Path through The Combes

Just time today for a bit of local early morning exercise. This walk starts in a quiet lane in Barkham, near Reading, and goes via lanes and fields to Barkham Church, past Barkham Rectory (a surprising distance away) to the delightful wood known as The Combes. Four miles.

Rating: 3 stars.

From: Rambling for pleasure around Reading (First series) by David Bounds for East Berkshire Ramblers' Association group.

Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham and Pangbourne).


Once nice thing about this walk is that it intersects one of my regular ones, Carter's Hill and Barkham Brook. One of the many things that make for a good walk is surely that sense of building a detailed knowledge of a locality, and seeing the same path, landmark or view from a different perspective is one of best ways to do this.


Drizzle, not much going on, but I did spot a single deer in the middle of a field. Every few moments it would look up and freeze, alert for any threat. And I enjoyed this field of pink-headed grass, sprinkled with buttercups.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Kingsclere: Hollowshot Lane and Hannington Village [reprise]

The Victorian well-head in Hannington

I did the short version of this walk in April and today returned to do the full version, which goes up and over the North Hampshire downs to the pretty village of Hannington. The first site of the village is Bertha's cottage, but the whole place is full of lovely houses. The well-head is on the village green, near the church. The full walk is richly varied and rewarding.

Rating: 4 stars.

From: Rambling for Pleasure: Kennet Valley and Watership Down by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers’ Association Group.

Map: Explorer 144 (Basingstoke, Alton and Whitchurch).

Bertha's cottage, Hannington


I commented on the impact of bright yellow oilseed rape on the earlier walk, and later on how it had faded by early May. I was struck today by the new yellow of ripening corn. The picture doesn't quite do it justice.


A few butterflies about today, none better than a pair of Painted Ladies. A foreign visitor, which my butterfly book says can be quite tame and approachable. And so it was.