Berkshire walk around Brimpton
PUBLISHED: 16:45 25 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:15 05 October 2017
Steve Davison explores the countryside around Brimpton with views of the Kennet Valley and the North Hampshire Downs
This month we head to the village of Brimpton, which lies just to the south of the River Kennet between Newbury and Reading. Located at the highest point in the village, and visible for miles around, is St Peter’s Church which was rebuilt by the Victorians. Slightly to the north is Manor Farm which was known as Brimpton Court in the 13th century and was once surrounded by a moat. Next to the farm is a small 14th century chapel (private, no access), which belonged to the Knights Hospitalier, who owned nearby Shalford Manor.
After leaving Brimpton the walk follows the River Enborne for a while. For much of its length, this river, which was mentioned in Richard Adam’s classic novel Watership Down based on the adventures of a group of rabbits, forms the border between Berkshire and Hampshire. The walk heads for the unusually named Pineapple pub at Brimpton Common, passing Blacknest Farm; Blacknest is home to the Forensic Seismology department of AWE and it is here that they develop techniques to help distinguish seismic signals generated by underground nuclear explosions from those generated by earthquakes. As for the pub name, the sign depicts a pine cone and pineapple, it’s said to be the old English name for a pine cone (the walk may be started at Brimpton Common, Point 3).
Our next stop is Wasing Park which, after the Norman Conquest, was held by Bernard the Falconer. Over the next few hundred years the estate passed through several owners until John Mount, a London nautical publisher bought the estate in 1759; the estate has been in the Mount family ever since. The house, which can be seen from the path, was built in 1770s, although it was subsequently rebuilt following a fire in 1945. On several occasions the estate has been used as a film location, including the TV costume drama, Cranford.
Close to the house is the 13th century St Nicholas’ Church with its weather-boarded bell turret, whilst inside there are some fragments of 16th and 17th-century Flemish painted glass. After leaving the church the route wanders down through the park before passing Shalford Bridge and heading back to Brimpton.
• Start/finish: War Memorial in Brimpton (SU557647); limited parking at the church
• Map: OS Explorer 159
• Distance: 4.75 miles (7.6km)
• Terrain: some gates and stiles, ups and downs, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2.25 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Brimpton – The Three Horseshoes (0118 971 2183); Brimpton Common – The Pineapple (0118 981 5006)
1 (SU557647) – From the War Memorial head up the gravel track up to St Peter’s Church and follow the enclosed path ahead and then right (or go diagonally through the churchyard) to enter a field where the path splits. Turn left alongside the churchyard boundary (to the south-west views include the North Hampshire Downs) and then down the side of the field. Continue downhill and just before the lane, turn right along the track for 100m and then follow the left-hand field edge.
2 (SU558639) – Where the path bears right at the field corner (40m after the first path joins from the left), turn left. Cross a footbridge to enter another field and continue with the River Enborne on the left. Later, dogleg left (marker post) and follow the path through some widely spaced tress and then continue through the field to a path junction on the far side. Keep ahead over the footbridge crossing the River Enborne and bear right through the trees, keeping a stream on the right, to join a lane beside Oxford Bridge. Turn left up the lane for slightly under three-quarters of a mile, later passing Blacknest Farm; the lane forms the border between Berkshire (left) and Hampshire (right). At the junction, turn right, then left for 40m to reach The Pineapple pub.
3 (SU566628) – From the north side of the road (pub behind you), follow the signposted path northwards through the trees. Cross a stile, continue between fences, then cross another stile. Cross Brimpton Lane and continue along the track as it quickly swings right to a junction. Turn left, keeping houses on the left and then continue along the track for 500m, ignoring a path off to the right. On reaching a house (left), turn right through a kissing gate into Wasing Wood and bear left along the track to reach a surfaced farm track beside a cattle grid.
4 (SU575640) – Cross the track, go through the kissing gate and keep ahead through the field to leave through a kissing gate; ahead is St Nicholas’ Church and slightly right is Wasing House. Turn left along the surfaced drive to a cross-junction. Keep ahead, cross a cattle grid and follow the tarmac drive down through Wasing Park. Cross another cattle grid and leave via a small gate on the left side of the hedge, close to the larger gate and Lodge House.
5 (SU569649) – Turn left to a T-junction and then right, following the lane as it crosses the River Enborne at Shalford Bridge. At the next junction, fork left along Wasing Road (signposted to Brimpton). Where the road curves left, bear right through a gate (the lake on the right is an old flooded gravel pit) and keep left, following the left-hand hedge. Continue through the field, ignoring a crossing route, to reach the far side; across the road is Manor Farm. Turn left up the road (Brimpton Road) back to the War Memorial; 100m to the left in The Three Horseshoes pub.