Walks

Walks, rambles and routes.

Bury Castle Circular Walk #bodminmoor #cornwall

Fantastic walk covering starting on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor, walking through high banked single track roads, woodlands, upper reaches of the River Warleggan and up to the spectacular Bury Castle.

Woodland Walking to Bury Castle

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Minions offers some amazing walks

Minions is perhaps not on the top list of Cornwall destinations to visit, but it should be.  This small and sleepy village hosts a whole bunch of Cornish archeology – mining being the most obvious.  The views are stunning and it’s only a few miles to walk to the Cheesewring (cheese ring or Keuswask for some) and the Hurlers (stone circles).  So if you are near Bodmin Moor have a look and bring your walking boots as most could walk around all day.

Old Mine Workings near Minions

Old Mine workings

The Cheesewring / Keuswask

A view of Cheesewring / Keuswask

Wantage, Letcombe Regis, East Challow Circular Walk

Circular route from the centre of the market town of Wantage. Good selection of road, gravel, mud with excellent dog walking potential. Ends walking via the old Berks & Wilts canal and back into the centre of town.

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Dawlish to Teignmouth Coastal Walk

The walk from Dawlish to Teignmouth is something I’ve done many times, so I thought it about time I put the route down in the blog.  The views are stunning and it’s a largely simple flat and level walk (along the sea wall between the sandy beaches and railway line).

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Ridgeway to Wantage via Lecombe Walk

Amazing walk this, half of my longer Wantage circular. Get dropped off on the Ridgeway crossing the A338 south of Wantage, then walk past the massive and ancient Segsbury Camp then down from the hills into the Thames Valley via the two Letcombe villages and back into Wantage. Nothing too difficult here, but there are some steep bits and as always the Ridgeway is exposed, so don’t expect mercy from wind/rain etc. You can cut the walk shorter by going through Sedgbury Camp and by-passing one of the villages, but personally I think it’s worth doing the whole route.

Start: Ridgeway A338 in South Oxfordshire

Waypoint: Letcombe

End: Wantage A338

Distance: 3.91 miles

Time taken: 1 hour 27 mins

Elevation change: rolling hills with one steep

Dog walking: 60% off lead. Walk includes crossing fields with animals.

Track condition: Stretches of grass, chalk and deep mud. Over half the route is path and track.

Accessibility: Stiles, steep grassy sections, narrow paths

Difficulty: Easy

Brightwalton to the Saddleback Farm Shop

Start: Brightwalton

Waypoint: Saddleback Farm Shop

End: Brightwalton

Distance: 3.25 miles

Time taken: 1 hour 15 mins

Elevation change: rolling hills

Dog walking: 80% off lead. Walk includes crossing a fast B4494 road.

Track condition: Stretches of grass and deep mud. Half the route is road and track.

Accessibility: Field sections are ploughed and rough.

Difficulty: Easy

Wantage to Uffington via the Berks and Wilts Canal

Start: Wantage

Waypoint: End: Uffington

Distance: 8.5 miles

Time taken: 4 hours

Elevation change: flat

Dog walking: 80% off lead. No dogs, walkers or cyclists for most of the route.

Track condition: Stretches of brambles, field grass and deep mud. Occasional road and track. In dry conditions this may be easier.

Accessibility: Some stiles, narrow paths, overgrown to chest height in many long stretches. Note that there are lengths of deep mud.

Difficulty: Average

Berks and Wilts Canal – still not made it to Uffington

You've gotta love walking on the old Berks and Wilts Canal. Good stretches are filled-in, dry or just stinky mud, but there are sections that are being renewed and areas with good water levels. I only managed to get to Sparsholt again yesterday. Party cos I'm full of cold, but also I met some great people on the walk and stopped for too many long chats! Might have to start further along next week and see if I can finally get through to Uffington; but I know the route from Sparsholt to Uffington is by no means a straight route – most of the canal network from there is now private land (or at least that's what the signs tell you).

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Black Canal Water

Found a very strange section of canal with thick black water. So dark you can't see just under the surface. Best not let the dogs drink from that section.

Berks and Wilts Canal

Great little walk along the Berks and Wilts canal yesterday. Started at Grove and finished near Steventon. I couldn't quite get to Abingdon in the time available, but it's a start. It's not an easy walk though as most of the foot paths are very overgrown and fallen trees, flooded field boundaries and local deer don't help. Was a good hour and a half romp though.

It's amazing to see how much of the old canal infrastructure still exists – lock gates still in situ and others seem to be delicate frames hanging in the air. I'll post the route later, but here are a couple of pictures.

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Update, I completed the walk easily today. After crossing the road between Hanney and Steventon it's a very straight forward walk with a good path, track and well managed footpaths.

West Challow to Sparsholt on the old Wilts & Berks Canal

Following the old Wilts and Berks Canal, I continue the journey at West Challow Bridge. Most of the canal from here is private land, so this is not going to be an easy route to follow. Heading out as best as I can to follow the route, I’ve headed towards Sparsholt. This is a short walk, but it’s hard going in places with some footpaths deep in mud.

This track starts out easy along paths and field paths well walked. There are some amazing parts of the canal still intact, full of water and looking amazing.

Start: West Challow Bridge

Waypoint: End: Sparsholt

Distance: 2.6 miles

Time taken: 1 hour 17 mins

Elevation change: flat

Dog walking: 60% off lead. No dogs, walkers or cyclists. Several horses.

Track condition: Stretches of field grass and deep mud. Occasional road and track. In dry conditions this may be easier.

Accessibility: Some stiles, narrow paths, overgrown in places. Note that there are lengths of deep mud.

Difficulty: Average

Wantage to Challow via Childrey Walk

This could easily be a circular walk, but I'm still taking it easy with the knee so wanted to limited myself to 4 miles. It's an easy walk with no significant hills and it's mostly solid footpath. Good for the dogs and some good views of the Thames Valley and edge of the North Wessex Downs.

Start: Wantage Park. There is good parking and you could easily extend this route back to here (only add's a mile or so).

Waypoint: Childrey

End: East Challow

Distance: 3.9 miles

Time taken: 1 hour 16 mins

Elevation change: not recorded but there are no significant hills

Dog walking: 80% off lead. Few dogs or other walkers.

Track condition: Good gravel/tarmac short stretch of field grass and mud.

Accessibility: Some stiles, narrow paths, overgrown in places. No shelter. Occasional seat.

Difficulty: Easy romp.

Wantage to West Challow Abandoned Wilts & Berks Canal Walk

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.

 

DNSR Didcot to Newbury – the old Railway walk – Part 2

Continuing to follow the DNSR using An Historical Survey of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway – Layouts and Illustrations and starting at Upton and heading to Compton I continue my walk from Didcot to Newbury.

DNSR Didcot Newbury Southampton Railway

The original Upton and Blewbury station has gone, but you the station building is now a house and much of the local railway land has been sold for housing, so you can’t just walk from the old station, but right next to the pub is a footpath that roughly follows the route of the railway.

I’ve a few pictures posted in Flickr, so please head on over and have a look.

  • Start: Upton near the George and Dragon Pub (closest point to original railway that’s a public footpath).
  • Waypoint: Reclamation works near Chilton
  • End: Compton Station
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Time taken: 2 hours
  • Elevation change: 30m
  • Dog walking: All off lead. Few dogs or other walkers.
  • Track condition: Variable from shallow mud/chalk to good gravel/old rail track.
  • Accessibility: Some stiles, narrow paths, overgrown in places. No shelter.
  • Difficulty: Easy romp.

Starting at the George and Dragon Pub, it’s possible to follow a newly fenced foot path behind the pub and houses to join along side the old railway. It’s a simple route from here, follow the public footpath signs. There are long sections of the railway that are not public rights of way. The track conditions are mostly good but narrow, with some muddy patches and a few stiles.

It’s a great walk for rolling countryside, open fields, few houses and even fewer people. The first shock of the walk is going near the reclamation works near Chilton. The railway has largely been filled in with rubble and at the time of the walk there was a massive wood fire in the reclamation yard. It’s disappointing to see the old bridges spanning a filled-in DNSR cutting.

But past Chilton the walk resumes into rolling hills and open fields. Churn Holt is clearly visible from the path, but ‘private no entry’ signs are all around the station site. If I get a chance I will find out who owns the land and ask them if I can go and wander. Churn is an odd station as it’s in the middle on no where and I’m not joking there. No houses, buildings or real roads approach the station. My guide book tells me that at one point Churn was considered for the Rifle Association, but Bisley was eventually chosen. The station highlights part of the problem with this walk – there is no shelter anywhere on the route. No shelter from the elements could make this route more difficult for some and you might need to think about the weather before setting out.

The walk from Churn into Compton is only a couple of miles of largely flat land. The foot path crosses the Ridgeway and at this point you can take a quicker route into Compton and use the roads or keep to a footpath that loosely follows the railway. I have taken a chunk of journey here along the old railway itself. This is private land and I asked the farmer for permission – please don’t go onto private land without permission. There is a suitable footpath following the old railway, check your OS map.

The walk into Compton is, from a railway perspective, disappointing. Most of it is private land and a lot of it has been developed. The station and sidings are now an industrial estate and there is no right of way to walk over the bridges in Compton itself. I ended my walk near the primary school and playground – it’s as close to the original station as you can get and a good spot to grab a short break.

The next leg in the journey is from Compton to Hermitage. It’s not a long walk, but in places the original railway has been ploughed away and there are no close public footpaths.

Reference material:

-Not high quality photo’s, but they give an idea of conditions.  Part 1 of the walk can be found here.

Wikipedia

DNSR Didcot to Newbury – the old Railway walk – Part 1

After Beechings massive railway cuts, several of the local downland branch lines have been closed. Newbury to Lambourn and Didcot to Newbury are two of the most well known. I’ve walked the Newbury to Lambourn route, something that was just amazing, following the original route in many places and touring the wonderful villages of the Downlands and Lambourn Valley. But in what I hope will form a nice series of blogs, I am going to walk the DNSR Didcot to Newbury railway in sections that I hope most people could complete and rate them for their dog walk potential.

DNSR

So I am following An Historical Survey of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway – Layouts and Illustrations and starting at the Didcot end of the route. Partially because it’s easy to get too, but also because it’s the easiest part of the route to follow (well sign posted). The route is a very easy 5 mile walk from Didcot Parkway station to the original Upton and Blewbury station.

Start: Didcot Parkway Station (DNSR terminus)

Waypoint: Upton and Blewbury Station

End: Didcot Parkway Station

Distance: 5.1 miles

Time taken: 2 hours

Elevation change: Level ground, less than 10m.

Dog walking: 2 miles on lead, 3 miles off lead. Some cattle. Lots of other dogs and people.

Track condition: Tarmac surface along entire route

Accessibility: Mostly flat, smooth ramps available. Cattle gate at Upton end restricts access. Quite a few seats available on the route.

Difficulty: Very easy walk.

 

Starting at the Train station in Didcot (called Didcot Parkway), it’s possible to follow the new link road east past Riches Sidings to a roundabout that marks the first remnants of the original embankment through Didcot. From here there are good sign posts showing routes to Upton. This largely follows the original rail line. Once out of Didcot the embankment climbs above the surrounding countryside and it’s possible to see quite a distance.

On the route back, I diverted through Didcot itself and through some of the estates and past schools. You can follow the return journey here

Didcot to Upton Railway Walk

I’ve not added pictures for this one as there are plenty on-line already.  One thing to note is that in Upton right next to the old station house there is a playing field and small playground.  If your walking with a picnic it’s a great half way point; or check out the Pub in Upton – it’s next to the old station house.

Next article… Didcot to Newbury – the old Railway walk – Part 2

 

Reference material:

Wikipedia

-DNSRR Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway Revival