Thursday, 3 February 2011

Hampstead Norreys; Ashampstead and Yattendon

Pang Valley

Walks in the Pang Valley, West Berkshire.

Compton - Hampstead Norreys
Hampstead Norreys - Frilsham
Frilsham - Bucklebury
Stanford Dingley - Tidmarsh

The weather precluded a long walk in the depths of winter, either been dull and grey or else wet, well that is my excuse anyway. So the walking season started on Chinese New Year's day this year. I intended to walk part of the Ridgeway as at this time of year distant views are about all there is to see. However my plans were thwarted by an accident on the A34 that closed the road and sent all the traffic along the lanes I was planning to walk along so I had to switch to plan B. I have frequently driven through a number of quiet Berkshire villages but never explored them on foot, so this was an opportunity to set that right at last. Here is a map showing the route of the ten mile walk:


View Hampstead Norreys - Yattendon in a larger map

There is a pleasant steep climb up out of Hampstead Norreys to the East, it leads you past this attractive looking rural retreat.

hampstead norreys house

The path then went over flat farmland, flat enough for a little airfield, in actual fact an important base in World War II, east to woodland leading to Ashampstead.

Ashampstead Woods

The only flowers out at this time are snowdrops. The first ones I saw were at Ashampstead Church. The most attractive clump was located rather spookily on the grave of someone I once knew, Dr. Richard Welbourn.

Ashampstead Snowdrops

Also at Ashampstead were a clutch of healthy looking, free range hens.

Ashampstead Hens

The lane south from Ashampstead had quite a few hazels and birches covered in catkins.

Ashampstead Lane

The catkins were a welcome sight in the winter sunshine.

catkins

Yattendon is a small village with a church boasting a traditional style of architecture. Not that much of interest inside though.

Yattendon church

The village has a central market square with a pub the ‘Royal Oak’.

Yattendon village

I then headed south under the M4 to Frilsham which has an interesting Manor House and small Victorianised church. The church is dedicated to St. Frideswide the patron saint of Oxford. She lived locally in Frilsham Common and died in 727. The river Pang (a stream really) passes by on its way to Bradfield and Pangbourne.

River Pang at Frilsham

The clouds had started to come over and the walk back via Eling through woods was pleasant in the late afternoon. I had to re-cross the M4 whose continual drone was the background noise to much of the walk.

M4 motorway near Eling

Finally a somewhat artistic shot of bracken fern in the winter sunlight.

fern