Berkshire walk near Great Shefford and across the River Lambourn
PUBLISHED: 09:53 16 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:53 16 December 2016
Cross the River Lambourn and make the most of the North Wessex Downs countryside
The walk starts at Great Shefford – the ‘Shefford’ part of the name is believed to mean ‘sheep ford’ – a place where sheep could cross the River Lambourn, being derived from the Saxon word ‘sciep’, meaning sheep; in the Domesday Book it was known as ‘siford’.
After nipping across the River Lambourn – a lovely chalk stream that rises just north of Lambourn and joins the River Kennet at Newbury – the walk heads out into the downs taking in views across the rolling landscape. This area forms part of the North Wessex Downs AONB which encompasses one of the largest and least developed tracts of chalk downland in southern England.
Once back in the valley, along which the Lambourn Valley Railway once ran – the line opened in 1898 and closed in the 1960’s – the walk heads back to great Shefford passing st Mary’s Church. Dating from the 12th century, the church has a rare round tower, one of only two in Berkshire. Inside, the carved Norman font is said to be one of the finest in the county, whilst just outside is an old preaching cross. From here it’s a short walk back to the start.
• Start/finish: Church Street in Great Shefford near the church; grid ref SU380753 – limited on street parking
• Map: OS Explorer 158
• Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6km)
• Terrain: few ups and downs, tracks and paths which can be muddy, sections of road, some stiles and gates
• Time: 1.5 hours without stops
• Refreshments: Great Shefford – The Swan Inn (01488 648271)
1 (SU380753) – Head south-eastwards along Church Street to the junction opposite the Swan Inn and turn left across the footbridge over the River Lambourn. Follow the enclosed path to a road and go straight, crossing the stream. Here the road splits, take the right fork up between the houses and keep ahead along the enclosed path with a recreation ground to the left and gardens on the right, soon passing a small gate. Continue along the enclosed path passing through a set of double gates and then another set before crossing a stile. Continue alongside the hedge on the right, then straight on across the field and through a gap in the fence to join a gravel drive.
2 (SU390766) – Turn left up towards Trindlewood for a short distance before heading back through the fence and following the field edge, with a house on the right, to a footpath sign. Continue in a similar direction across the field, later passing through a line of trees and then across the next field. Ignore a crossing farm track to reach another track by some trees and a trig point. Turn left down the track for half a mile to reach Maidencourt Farm. Continue along the driveway, crossing the bridge over the River Lambourn and shortly turn left over a stile. Follow the path across the field aiming just left of the house. Cross the stile and follow the fenced path then keep ahead through two fields, heading towards Great Shefford and passing to the left of St Mary’s Church. Go through a kissing gate and turn right along the track as it curves left back to Church Street.
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