Thursday, 11 March 2010

Enborne and Hamstead Park

St Michael, Enborne

Yesterday we took our Essex friends Dave and Chris to Kingsclere, today we thought we would offer a variety of Berkshire delights. This walks starts at the Saxon, or early Norman, St Michael's church at Enborne. You walk down the road and turn left to reach the Kennet and Avon canal at Benham Bridge.

Here you turn left (west) and follow the tow path to Hamstead Lock, just south of Marsh Benham. Now you turn left again to pass Hamstead Mill, whose original octagonal shape can still be seen in the larger house which now bears this name.

We followed the walls of Hamstead Park and walked through St Mary's churchyard. We felt out of place here in our walking clothes as a military funeral was about to take place and many people were in full dress uniform.

Cutting back inside the walls we passed an old motte - an "enditched mount, usually artificial" - on which a motte and bailey castle would have been erected. Pevsner notes that this, and two other such mounds in the ground, were probably castle mounds, but offers no further insight.

The dense covering of snowdrops was very attractive.

We walked through the park, admiring the lake, the contours and the trees and found our way back to Enborne church. We had passed through the park before on the Combe Gibbet to Hamstead Marshall leg of the Berkshire Way, but this time we gained a much fuller sense of it.

Then we got in the car and drove to the Red House at Marsh Benham where we enjoyed a really excellent lunch. We could of course have interrupted the walk to do this - or, if I was more alert, started from here.

From: 50 walks in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Map: Explorer 158 (Newbury and Hungerford).

Conditions: bright and dry, but a cold wind.

Rating: four stars
. Very nicely varied. The best of Berkshire in many ways.

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