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This Week's Walks - Archive

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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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Sunday Walk – The Blackwater Valley (Crowthorne-Sandhurst)

Extra Walk 83(b) – Crowthorne to Sandhurst (or Blackwater)
Length: 17¼ km (10.7 miles) to Sandhurst, or 20½ km (12.7 miles) to Blackwater. Toughness: 3/10

10:03 Cardiff train from Paddington, changing at Reading (arr 10:37, dep 10:48) for the Redhill train, arriving Crowthorne at 11:02. A return to Blackwater is the most flexible ticket on this route.

If it's more convenient you could take the 09:30 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo (Clapham Jct 09:39) and change at Guildford (arr 10:11, dep 10:23) for the Reading train, arriving on Crowthorne's other platform 10 minutes earlier at 10:52. However, there are rumours of industrial action over Easter on South Western Railways out of Waterloo. If you do take this route, buy a return to Crowthorne.

The Waterloo/Guildford ticket is cheaper but is not valid for return via Reading; the more expensive ticket lets you return on either route.

The Sunday service on the Reading-Redhill line was improved at the end of 2017 and trains back from Sandhurst are now hourly in each direction, at xx:05 via Guildford and xx:49 via Reading. If you take the optional 2-mile extension to Blackwater there are two trains per hour, at around xx:09 & xx:34 via Guildford, xx:18 & xx:45 via Reading.

I'm taking a chance on posting this walk since the most recent feedback was from some punters who got hopelessly lost, although I have an unworthy suspicion that they clicked a 'random play' button on the directions and tried to follow the sections out of order. To be fair, the ongoing gravel workings in the Blackwater valley might have resulted in some footpath diversions, so be prepared to use your initiative.

The walk itself is a mix of woodland, heaths and pastures, returning alongside flooded gravel pits and through nature reserves in the Blackwater valley. The Queen's Oak has always been very welcoming and if you call them in advance they've been know to reserve a cosy bar for groups of walkers at lunchtime; let's hope they can manage on Easter Sunday. The options for tea in Sandhurst or Blackwater aren't quite so enticing, but there are several pubs in the area and a Café in the Park on the route between the two stations.

You'll need to bring the directions from the Crowthorne to Sandhurst Walk page. You can click the word 'Main' in the Walk Options heading to hide the unnecessary directions for the Short Walk variation.


Anonymous said...

Just to correct a typo, if travelling from Waterloo via Guildford the connection is Guildford (arr 10:11, dep 10:23)

Sean said...

Well spotted, thanks. Connection times at Guildford corrected.

Mr M Tiger said...

There seem to be problems with trains out of paddington this morning 0 the 10;03 cancelled suggest waterloo

Sean said...

I hear that some people find it hard to get their walk reports accepted by the system, so to keep the walks archivist happy I'll record that n=4 people turned up at the appointed time on a w=cloudy-but-dry day. The gloomy weather and rumours of train problems with GWR at Paddington meant that only one was there in time to catch a fast train to Reading a few minutes before the cancelled 10:03, meeting three who'd arrived at Crowthorne from the other direction.

This was not the best time of year for this walk. The snowdrops were long gone, the daffodils fading and the bluebells still slumbering; on the lakes the winter migrants had flown and the summer visitors yet to arrive. There was of course plenty of mud, if not the flooded areas reported on other recent outings. On the plus side the Queen's Oak deserves high praise for squeezing us in and serving four excellent lunches, substantial enough to put paid to thoughts of the longer afternoon or optional extension. We duly reached Sandhurst in good time for trains back around 4pm, although GWR had one trick up its sleeve: holding the train outside Guildford just long enough to miss the connection to Waterloo. I hope others got back without too much delay.