Simple walk here, from the centre of Wantage town via the old Wilts and Berks Canal to West Challow and back. There is quite a bit of off lead walking for the dogs and it’s an easy level walk. From Wantage Town Centre, head towards the old canal following what appears to be an old branch in the canal. There is a tarmac and gravel foot path following the route which can be easily found next to the mill and passing to the west of the new housing development, I followed the path through the new shops car park and rejoined it over the bridge to the new houses. The path goes through the various housing estates in Wantage, keep going straight ahead and you will end up with a gravel section – this appears to be the start of a branch in the old Wilts and Berks Canal.
This track takes you directly to whats left of the Wilts and Berks Canal on the border between Wantage and Grove. It’s here that you find a roundabout, best to follow the path on the road until you can rejoin the canal route. The route from here follows the canal West. Once over the road an in the field you can lets the dogs off to have a play. Follow the ‘tree line’ as it’s what’s left of the old canal. Towards the end of the field you should start to see canal workings again. Over another style at the end of the field and your straight onto a shallow silted and rubbish filled canal. Follow this into East Challow – beware that there is a fast road in East Challow that needs to be crossed – get the dogs back when you start to see houses.
Cross the road and your back onto what’s left of the canal. It’s built over and filled through most of East Challow, but when you start to leave the village it returns and it’s possible to find canal workings. It’s all off lead for the dogs now, straight to West Challow. What’s left of what must have been a bridge has been filled in at West Challow, so it’s a good place to stop and about face.
If you look at my other walks in the area, it’s easily possible to join other footpaths that will take you back into Wantage via Childrey or past what’s marked as an old Roman Villa (nothing to see though).
This is an easy walk that anyone who can climb a style can do. Whilst there are no seat’s, there are plenty of opportunities to stop on bridges, canal workings and village facilities.
Start: Wantage Town Centre
Waypoint: West Challow Bridge
End: Wantage Town Centre
Distance: 5.4 miles
Time taken: 2 hours
Elevation change: flat
Dog walking: 70% off lead. Several dogs, walkers and cyclists.
Track condition: Good gravel/tarmac short stretches of field grass and mud.
Accessibility: Some stiles, narrow paths, overgrown in places.
Difficulty: Easy romp.