Berkshire’s best high spots
PUBLISHED: 10:14 24 May 2016 | UPDATED: 10:14 24 May 2016
© Jim Batty / Alamy Stock Photo
In Berkshire you can clamber up beautiful hillsides, or sometimes just park the car right by a high spot. Sue Bromley tells us more
The title holder
We’re all for taking the high ground, and in Walbury Hill near Hungerford our county can claim both the highest chalk hill in England and the highest point in south-east England at 974ft (297m).
Wonderful, wild and often windy (although there are sheltered spots for rests and picnics), Walbury has nearby car parks to make the going easy. It’s popular with radio enthusiasts and you might see a BBC van using it as a broadcasting relay spot. The summit was an Iron Age fort, and we can add to Walbury’s titles that it is the largest such hillfort in the county.
Among the sights is a stone and plaque commemorating The Merville Battery. During the Second World War the 9th Battalion The Parachute Regiment used the fields and woods below the hill to rehearse plans for what would be a successful D-Day assault on a German position on the Normandy coast.
A leisurely walk can take in the village of Coombe. Head for Coombe Gibbet on the Inkpen longbarrow, first erected in 1676 to display the executed bodies of a man and woman found guilty of murdering his wife. It’s not been used since and the current one, while suitably creepy, is a replica.
West Berkshire is definitely the place to head for a natural taste of the high life. Warren Hill along the Ridgeway Path near Streatley Warren, east of Compton, makes it to 614ft (187m); Grimsbury Castle, an Iron Age hillfort between Cold Ash and Hermitage takes you to 518ft (158m); Bussock Hill at Winterbourne is at 489ft (149m); and Snelsmore East Common reaches 472ft (144m).
The Berkshire Downs, including the Lambourn Downs, offer some of the best views in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The high spot here is actually just over the border near Bagshot Park in Surrey. No surprise then that it’s called Surrey Hill, reaching 427ft (130m).
Top spot here is at Park Lane, Tilehurst where you find the water tower landmark that can be spotted for miles around, including from the M4. It’s 338ft (103m) above sea level.
It’s all a bit flat here, but East Burnham Park does offer some loftier ground at 167ft (51m). The summit is at the Farnham Lane and Crown Lane junction. Surprisingly, this little one is at the tail end of a chain of hills running from Wendover in Buckinghamshire, where its ‘parents’ reach up to nearly 900ft.
Windsor and Maidenhead
The title here goes to Ashley Hill near Hurley, where many walkers take in The Dewdrop Inn. At 472 ft (144m) it’s the 1,333rd tallest in England. The actual ‘summit’ is in a private garden, but this doesn’t matter as the top is pretty flat. For views rather than any real height, we have to include Winter Hill, near Cookham Dean, looking north over the Thames Valley.
Bowsey Hill in Wargrave civil parish reaches 427ft (130m) where the district faces the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s close to the charmingly named Pudding Hill.
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• Buckinghamshire’s best high spots - In Buckinghamshire you can clamber up beautiful hillsides, or sometimes just park the car right by a high spot. Sue Bromley tells us more