Monday, 15 August 2016

Leith Hill

The top of Leith Hill Tower is the highest point in the South East, although the hill itself falls short of the highest peak by 3 metres (this being held by Walbury Hill which I hope to walk very soon).  Leith Hill has been on our To-Do list for a long time and after such a long break from hill-walking, it seemed like a good time to inject a bit of excitement (as far as Southern hill-walking goes) into our walks.

2.5 miles seemed like a fair distance as everybody seems to have fallen very lazy lately and after all this is a 'hill'.  It's a National Trust Walk so very straight forward and it even includes a section of Ordinance Survey Map.

The paths are clearly visible with very few junctions, and with an easy map to follow, the route is simple enough.  Already, in the first minutes we are rewarded with the distant hills and a promise of beautiful views.

Blue Surrey Hills in the Distance

As we pass below Leith Hill Place, the view opens up.  If only the clouds would clear I could get some beautiful pictures.  However, I am already feeling very warm so for sanity's sake, I'm quite glad for the cloud.
Golden hills and blue skies - oh and a bit of imagination 

Looking back across the field towards Leith Hill Place

Once we pass into the woods, the climb starts.  For anyone used to 'real' hills this incline is pretty much downhill! But for my family it is hard work.

I am surprised how few people we pass on the way up, but as we reach the tower there seem to be a good number of picnickers and cyclists.  The boys and I ascend the tower and become the highest people in the South East - apart from those in the planes above us, who we see taking off from Gatwick to our East and Heathrow to the North.

Leith Hill Tower
 The route back down could also have been pretty amazing had the sun appeared.  Eventually it did grace us - on our drive home.

The route down to Windy Gap

I have truly been bitten again by the walking bug.  Just the right kind of walks and I'm sure my boys will feel the same. 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sandhurst and Horseshoe Lake

I can't believe it is 3 years since I last posted! We have continued to walk as a family, but perhaps not as often as I'd like. However, it looks as though we will soon have our Sundays back, so I am looking forward to a lot more walking. I am always on the look out for walks, locally and within an hour's drive of home, so I was really excited to find Our first walk for a while was their Sandhurst to Horseshoe Lake and Blackwater
which is 4.5 miles. Our previous average would be 3 to 3.5 miles, but this always left us wanting for more.

We were familiar with several parts of this walk but this was the first time we'd amalgamated this route. In August the heather is in bloom and we were greeted with purple carpet and green ferns almost immediately. This part of Edgbarrow Woods is far more interesting and varied than some of the areas deeper into Swinley. If you're lucky you may see slow worms or even adders.

More woods, which are less inspiring but then the most exciting part for the boys, and most heart-stopping for me.  The railway crossing.  The track is straight and long in each direction.  There really is no danger as long as you are sensible, but any mother can't help but fret!

I'm afraid I didn't take many pictures (as I only thought of reigniting my blog afterwards) but below you can see the lovely pastures of Ambarrow Farm where we all commented how lucky we are to live so close to such beautiful countryside. You really wouldn't know that you're only a 10 minute drive from Wokingham or Bracknell.

And the view back across the meadow....

Soon after here we cross the lane to the lake and take a right turn to start the circuit of the Horseshoe Lake.  This is where we get the first complaints and tired boys (who really are big enough to have the energy!) realise we are taking the long route.  We pass close to the horseshoe shaped island (where the lake gets its name) in full bloom with so many colours of wild flower, before turning left to walk alongside the river.

I always love this part of Blackwater River.  The sun passes through the trees creating patterns of dappled light through the shallows that look almost magical.  We spot a rope swing and make a note to ourselves to return purely to play on this at a later date.

Unfortunately, the play area at the watersports centre no longer exists so we just refresh ourselves at the cafe and have a coffee while watching the paddle-boarders and kayakers.  

The route back always seems a lot quicker, but with this being a 'there and back' walk it wasn't quite as varied as a circular would have been and so boredom soon gave way to tiredness and complaints and I decided the family (of varying levels of fitness) would benefit from a few more shorter walks.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Rapley Lake

Our first proper walk for 3 months held hope of sunshine and bluebells.  After so many months of snow, rain and just general chilliness, we were happy to get out and walk in the sun.

Lots of clear streams which were very enticing on such a lovely day.  We even saw some fish which, at 6 or 7 inches, seemed quite long for such a shallow brook. This 3 mile walk was easy to follow, apart from the area closest to Bagshot Park which had been totally churned up by logging vehicles.  The paths were unrecognisable.  We were lucky enough to meet a couple who were doing our walk in reverse and advised us which way to go.

Churned up paths and not a bluebell in sight.

The state of the paths did add some interest and hilarity when the mud kept hold of DH's shoe!  He  regrets not wearing his boots!  It became quite obvious that this area was not going to be the stroll we'd expected so we short cut the right arm of the walk and followed the stream to catch the returning path.  The path improved greatly after this.

We reached the lake and the boys recognised the lake immediately, having usually approached from the opposite direction.  It's a shame that more of the lake isn't accessible, but perhaps it wouldn't be as unspoilt in that case.  We look forward to returning when there is more colour in the trees.

Waterlilies on the lake last August

A gentle stroll downhill returned us to the felled trees and more churned up paths, before following the track back to our car on Conaught Drive.  

It was a lovely day for a walk in the woods and I think we picked just the right walk (apart from the state of some of the paths).  It was close to home and short enough to get us back into the spirit   and leave enough time for everything else we had planned for the weekend.  Looking forward to next time - and hopefully we'll find some bluebells.

Wendy Booth - Portrait Artist

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Chapel Green and Luckley Path

New year and finally a dry clear day.  What a beautiful day for a walk!

Another one from "Rambling for Pleasure in East Berkshire".  Having found 3 -4 miles getting easier we decided to do 4.5 miles.  It was a gorgeous day and we just enjoyed strolling through fields and along lanes - passing several others enjoy the New Year's sunshine.

 Hardly a cloud in the sky - and finally a break from the rain which had barely stopped for weeks.

The ground was, of course, incredibly wet and fields and paths were still flooded.  The path running parallel to the railway line is tarmacked.  Most paths were tarmacked or gravel so we didn't have too much trouble.

After the Gorrick Cottage we turned in to Gorrick Plantation.  We had walked in this area in July and spotted a slow worm - it was golden in colour and we were all quite excited!  No such wildlife today though.

Passing through Gray's Farm (pick your own fruit), which is currently closed for winter, we wondered what these plants were growing in rows.  They didn't look particularly healthy, but what do we know?
The sun low in the clear sky produced long shadows and beautiful views across the sports fields and meadows of Ludgrove School.

There was no escaping the mud and sludge on these very wet paths.  It would take more than a morning without rain to dry up these footpaths.

On the route through Langborough Park, we stopped at the playground for a short play on the park before heading back to the car through Huntley Palmer Gardens. 
A very enjoyable walk - quite an easy 4.5 miles - mostly on the level.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Cut through Winkfield

Boxing Day started wet and just got wetter!  We no sooner left the road than paths quickly became ankle deep (and deeper) in water.  I wish I'd thought to take some pictures.  It made for some quite funny scenes, especially as DS1 wasn't wearing the right footwear.  I love my North Face boots.  Having spent a year walking through puddles, streams and very wet ground - this was the only day when my feet actually got wet and that wasn't the fault of the boots.  I misjudged a puddle and water came in over the top.  Next on the shopping list - gaiters!

A rather full stream

On the walk across towards St Mary's church.  The rain just kept on coming.

Over the stile - check out those wet trousers!  We were all soaked.  Somehow we didn't think to take waterproofs!

The churchyard of St Mary's Winkfield.  

This walk was only 3.5 miles and with the constant rain there wasn't much time for playing.  We realised how much fitter we've become over the last year. 3.5 miles was easy and we could easily have done the whole lot again.  I think it's time to crank things up a notch. Let's do something longer next time - and hope for better weather.

One of the drier paths

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Pudding Hill and Caesar's Camp

Another variation on our Sunday walk in Swinley Forest - this time the boys took their bikes.  We were rewarded with clear skies and sunshine - the boys were even warm in just their tshirts.  Quite a contrast from the previous week in Cumbria.

Pudding Hill in the distance

The walk to the wood from our home is initially quite dull, but quickly becomes wooded.  We walked along Nine Mile Ride for a while to find a safe place to cross and finally made it across into Swinley Forest.  I had a rough plan to walk towards Pudding Hill.  DH wasn't familiar with the area and was pleasantly surprised with the view from the top.

Bracknell is just a small grey splodge from the top of Pudding Hill - it makes you realise how much of the area is wooded and green.  It was a lovely clear day too.

Woods at the top of Pudding Hill

Climbing the hill with bikes was a bit of a struggle and they weren't even rewarded with a downhill ride as, in places, it's just too steep.  A great route for experienced mountain bikers though.  There was a bike race taking place in the area so some places were cordoned off.  We turned back and took another turn and decided to just visit Caesar's Camp, rather than make our way to the Look Out.  It was all a bit tricky with the boys on bikes (youngest on an old heavy bike) and DS2 was soaked from riding through a big puddle!  We decided that next week we'll do a bit more planning and all walk.  I can't imagine the weather being as good though.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Buttermere Circuit

Our last full day in the area and we thought we really ought to walk around the lake.  After almost a full week of rain, the morning looked promising.  Icy wind but fine.

We headed down to the lake, but somehow managed to corner some sheep.  We pulled ourselves over to one side though and they came rushing past - looking a little frightened!

DS3 climbed up and unlocked the gate - then pushed it open (with him on it) to let us all through.  Quite an ingenious way for a little person to do the job, although maybe not quite complying with the countryside code.  We did close it again afterwards, with DS on the right side.

View back towards the cottage - on the left.

DS3 full of enthusiasm

The outward leg was a lot of fun.  We observed the spray whipped up on the lake by the powerful wind.  Keeping the boys out of the lake was a job in itself.  Wellies were a mistake! The terrain was not quite Virginia Water!  I was the only one in hiking boots and was very glad of them.  

Loving the wind

As we reached the top end of the lake and Gatesgarth Farm, the weather started to turn.  The farmer was herding his sheep back into the field.  With some sun and my proper camera, I think these sheep would have made a good picture.

The wind, rain and hail battered us along the return leg. With freezing faces and hungry bellies, we found a spot under some trees with a couple of rocks for the boys to sit on, grabbed our lunch and quickly moved on.  Continuing with heads down, pushing on into the hail, we came to another wooded area and the boys were both getting very cold.  They put on their extra layers which they'd been carrying in their bags.  Eventually I gave my gillet to DS3 who was almost ready to give up by this stage.  The gillet soaked straight though, and wearing my hat too, passers by mistook him for a girl.  Luckily, he didn't hear!

Almost done - and soaked through!

We reached the home end of the lake and somehow the boys summoned up one last burst of energy for a paddle in the field (which was a lake itself by now) and some stone skimming.  Then finally back to the cottage for a change of clothes and a hot drink!

I don't think we've ever suffered so much with the cold and wet.  Our waterproofs were well and truly tested.  We were thankful to finally be cosy and warm, but so glad we'd made the most of our last day.  Lessons I've learnt - Wellies are not for long walks - take plenty of extra layers and gloves.  You can't predict what the sky will throw at you - especially in Cumbria!