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Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Midweek Day Walk [Fully Revised] - Aldermaston to Woolhampton [Midgham Station] short option


…by special arrangement, Arthur D. has relinquished the walk poster role for this Wednesday, so that we can give this 'new' walk a run-out, thanks ever so much!

SWC Walk 117a – Rolling West Berkshire countryside: woodlands, fields, commons, chalk stream valleys (Kennet, Bourne), heathland, finish along canal or through parkland. Quiet and scenic. Not too muddy

Length: 16.6 km (10.3 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  240 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 4 hours
Toughness:  3 out of 10 

Take the 10.30 Bristol Temple Meads train from Paddington, arriving Aldermaston at 11.25; change at Reading: arrives 10.55, departs 11.12 (Newbury Train, usually on Platform 1)
Missed the 10.30? The 10.45 might still suffice: you have three minutes at Reading to get from Platform 9 to Platform 1 (note to self…)
Return trains: 16.24, 17.23, 18.24, 19.29, 20.08 hours (change at Reading, 58-70 minutes journey time)
Buy a Midgham return.

First posting of this former map lead walk, newly re-routed, split into two and fully written up, we will take the opportunity to check the walk directions of the short version of the first walk.
To quote the write-up:
“This walk explores a surprisingly quiet part of the commuter area that is West Berkshire, less than an hour from Central London. It is an undulating landscape with some fine views over unspoilt countryside - the West Berkshire Downs, which are part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and consist of a mix of ancient woodlands, commons, fields and pretty villages with pleasant, historical pubs. The route passes through the chalk stream river valleys of the Kennet and the Bourne. It also leads through parts of the Bucklebury Estate, one of the largest in the South, namely the elevated Bucklebury Common, which includes one of Berkshire’s largest heathlands. At the end there is a choice of finishes either along the Kennet & Avon Canal or through the landscaped Midgham Park. “

The recommended lunch option is The Cottage Inn in Upper Bucklebury (9.5 km/5.9 mi), which has won a Best Community Pub award for two years running
For tea The Rowbarge Inn in Woolhampton, 2 minutes from Midgham station, is the only option. 
For walk directions, map, height profile, and gpx/kml files click here.
T=swc.117.a
L=swc.117.a

10 comments:

Marion said...

Intend going. The Rowbarge Inn near Midgham Station is a large gastro pub ideal for drinks and early evening supper for those who like to linger. I seem to remember some very boggy sections even in summer so high cuff boots are recommended!

Thomas G said...

Having walked this repeatedly over the last weeks, I can re-assure you that the mud levels are nothing out of the ordinary. A few stretches in the woods of course need careful attention, but all else is fine.

Marc Ricketts said...

I might attend the walk. But I can't Guarantee I will.

Marion said...

The Ealing Broadway contingent will catch the 10.05 changing at Reading

Anonymous said...

I hope to do this walk but also want to go to a dance event in the evening.
This may mean I have to walk faster or that I have to bale out mid afternoon.jfk

Marcus said...


n=15 w=drizzle-set-in-during-morning-with-steady-rain-all-afternoon

Another good turn out for a mid-week walk, particularly as the weather forecast was not favourable. Setting off on the shorter, 10 mile version of this walk in West Berkshire, we were soon in pleasant countryside - a good mixture of woodland, farmland, heaths and commons, with views of river valleys, and some lovely churches to visit en route. Mud levels, to be expected in the woods, were very manageable all day and never spoilt the walk. We stopped for a late lunch at the Cottage Inn in Upper Bucklebury and although the Landlord seemed to take an age taking our orders, he did so cheerfully, and his food was well worth the wait. The morning's drizzle having morphed into steady rain, it was time to don full waterproofs as we set off on the afternoon leg, soon freelancing across Bucklebury Common. Thomas had forgotten to tell us to stow inflatable dinghies in our back packs, so we had to negotiate the flooded sections best we could. Having done so, we were soon on firmer footing as we progressed along country lanes towards St Matthew's Church, Midgham, before we set off on the last leg of our walk - a relaxing stroll along the Kennet and Avon Canal - our water feature for the day (apart from the rain). 5 stopped for refreshments at the cozy Rowbarge Inn by Midgtham station, leaving those still left in the group to catch the 17-23 hrs train to Reading, for a quick change to a fast service back to Paddington.
Today's walk turned out to be surprisingly good with lots of variety, some lovely valley views, no steep hills - just a few inclines to keep a walker honest - and excellent lunch and tea stops. Well worth repeating in early autumn.

Marion said...

Ive just finished cleaning the acidic silt off my high cuff leather boots by Meindle. Thankfully my feet were the only part of me that kept dry during this soggy rainy day. The Rowbarge pub provided excellent tea, salad and hot soup to revive us helped by a couple of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc to cheer our spirits whilst we waited for our apparel to dry out on the radiator commissioned by our property sales and maintenance adviser.

The train home we selected was cancelled without explanation so a second visit to the pub was required for more refreshment. By this time the conversation had revved up a gear reminiscing about absent friends no longer seen on regular walks. DAC you are sorely missed. Please come and join us one day!

Eventually catching the 21.02 train changing at Reading to the express for Paddington we enjoyed the empty first class restaurant car minus dinner with much hilarity and in my case a dash to the Heathrow connect and the bus home to Brentford. What a wonderful day for socialising in spite of the rain.

delia's barmy army said...

I count myself lucky that I did not drown in a quagmire as a result of this expedition, and a glass of wine at lunchtime would surely have resulted in that outcome; note to brain, extra lie in tomorrow and thanks of course to Thomas for his excellent maritime navigational skills. Additionally, I have learnt that much of West Berkshire is peat bog which I can only think has something to do with its proximity to Wales. Recently I had considered investing in a flotation tank session but now appreciate that it costs no more to do this walk, plus you get a 'free' lunch.
When I win the lottery, I shall purchase the latest technology rainwear, until which time, it may have to be an industrial strength plastic bag.
Nevertheless, every cloud has a silver lining and the walk finished with Annie calling me a 'slut', which ordinarily might be considered as insult added to injury, but in this case, may be a sign of a burgeoning friendship. What is it you say over there Karen 'Some days you eat the bear'? Thank heavens the sun came out.

Thomas G said...

Well, my dear friends of The Great Outdoors...
A recent, timely, multi-year study published by the European Fund For The Furtherment Of The Outdoor Industry (EFFTFOTOI) has come to these groundbreaking conclusions:
A. If you spend all day outdoors on a cold and wet winter day without waterproof jackets, trousers and gloves, you will get wet and cold (your local outdoor store will offer you gear for the occasion at a wide variety of price points).
B. Once you are wet and cold, you will stay wet and cold, until after a hot shower and a rubdown.
C. If you carry paper instructions or maps without an appropriate rain cover on a non-stop rainy day, they will get soggy and unusable (your local outdoor store will offer you solutions at a small fortune, your local stationary store will offer you solutions at fractions of a penny).
D. If - on a rainy day in a wet winter - you wear low-slung, fabric 'summer' shoes, you run the risk (some would say certainty) of water and mud ingress (your local outdoor store will sell you waterproof boots at a wide variety of price points; they are waterproof at time of purchase and will stay waterproof if you follow the care instructions).
E. Grassy slopes and standing water on tarmac or gravel paths near the end of a walk are great opportunities to clean the boots.
F. There's always the sofa.

I maintain my point that this walk had no unusual levels or percentages of muddy bits, considering it contained woods and commons, and that all but 2-3 steep bits in the woods were easily negotiable. The one unusual feature (heathland paths ankle-deep under water) I found quite hilarious, others might differ (but they were easy to avoid by walking through the heather, anyway).
Keep Walking...

delia's barmy army said...

Thomas, I appreciate and value your leadership and navigational skills without the slightest reservation. My sense of humour may be an acquired taste, in that unlike the British weather, it can be bone dry, but rarely intentionally offensive, and certainly not on this occasion. Having reproofed the jacket, I was hopeful that it might save me from the worst.Had I mummified myself with a toilet roll, it may have been more effective. I shall determinedly look into this [reproofing, not wrapping myself in toilet roll], as I am reluctant to throw the thing away. Ironically, the 'summer boots', which had also been treated,lasted the course very well.Trousers, not a major issue.Major issue: Knees. Did fabulously well, very proud of them. More demanding than last wednesday, but still manageable. For the time being, I shall stick to level four and under. In the mean time, keep trekking