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.
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).
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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