Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Lookout, Bracknell, to Ascot (Berkshire Way 13)

About the walk

We did our next stage of the BBC's Berkshire Way out of order: it was wet and we thought a short stage (this one was only only 4 1/2 miles) was preferable to the 8 mile one which was next on the official itinerary.

The walk begins at the Lookout, a country park on the edge of Bracknell (we started a nice walk in the woods here earlier in the year) and initially heads off on tarmaced paths into a housing development. However, you quickly turn off into Swinley Park and walk for a good while through very pleasant woodland. The directions were a bit vague on the distance to be walked before reaching the critical landmark of four tracks meeting, but we found the right exit from the wood in due course.

The next stage, through light woods, bypasses the overgrown Englemere Pond to reach the main Bracknell-Ascot road, the A329. You then cross the road and wander through various housing developments (some of impressive modern opulence) to reach the edge of Ascot race course. We had some difficulty following the route here too: this time because the printed out directions had become so sodden that the pages had coalesced and become impossible to separate. Tearing off the top corner by the staple proved to be the effective technique.

Perhaps surprisingly, you can walk directly across the racecourse - although not the actual race track. It is an impressively large area with fine views of the extraordinary new grandstand. I am sure it must have frequently been compared to an airport terminal, because that is surely what it resembles. I would have added a photo, but it was still pouring with rain.

Rating: three stars. Despite the unprepossessing start, surprisingly varied and interesting.

Map: Explorer 160 (Windsor, Weybridge and Bracknell).