Berkshire walk around Crazies Hill
PUBLISHED: 12:27 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:59 04 September 2020
Steve Davison takes a walk through the rolling countryside around Crazies Hill in East Berkshire and finds an ancient spring along the way
After leaving The Horns at Crazies Hill the walk soon passes the cupola-topped Crazies Hall, which was also known as Summerfield House. This was originally the Town Hall in Henley-on-Thames which was built in 1790. However, in the late nineteenth century it was decided to build a new town hall at Henley and the original building, which was bought by Charles Clements, was rebuilt at Crazies Hill.
Shortly after Worley’s Farm we head south, soon passing Hennerton golf course. Not far from here, opposite Gibstroude Farm, is the former home of the prolific actor, Robert Morley CBE (1908-92). Nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor in Marie Antoinette (1938), Morley bought the house in 1940 and spent much of his life at Crazies Hill.
We then take a meandering route through fields and woods to reach Rebecca’s Well, originally known as Rebra’s Well; it was the Reverend Grenville Phillimore, curate at nearby Wargrave, who renamed the well. He also raised money to have the well-house built in 1870 and the well-known garden designer and artist, Gertrude Jekyll, painted the gable end with a scene from the Bible depicting Rebeka and the servant of Abraham at the well of Nahor.
After leaving the well, the final loop takes us round part of the village passing the village hall, which was originally a Mission Church, and later on passing the entrance to Cayton Park, part of the Juddmonte Farms racehorse empire, before arriving back at the pub.
• Start/finish: limited roadside parking near The Horns at Crazies Hill (SU800809); accessed from Wargrave (A321) or Knowl Hill (A4)
• Map: OS Explorer 171
• Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2km)
• Terrain: some gates and 3 stiles, ups and downs, paths and tracks that can be very muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 2 hours (excluding stops)
• Refreshments: Crazies Hill – The Horns (0118 940 6041)
1 (SU800809) – Stand with your back to the pub and turn right (south-west) along lane for 200m, passing the school and then a house (both on your right). Turn right at the footpath sign following the Chiltern Way (Berkshire Loop) along the enclosed path. Go through the gate and continue along the enclosed path, soon crossing straight over a drive with a large house (Crazies Hall) over to the left. The path now splits, take the left-hand fork straight on between hedges for 500m, passing through a gate on the way. At the end, cross the stile and turn left along Worley’s Lane. Follow the lane for 600m, passing the entrance to Crazies Hall and then Worley’s Farm, later heading downhill.
2 (SU788810) – Just before the road junction, turn left through a gate and follow the enclosed path (footpath sign), with views to the right. Cross a stile and continue steeply downhill. Cross a track (Penny’s Lane) at the bottom, go through the gate and follow the path up beside the hedge on the left, then later steps up beside a fence. Cross over the private track and continue alongside the fence on the left, with trees on the right. Keep ahead, with the golf course on the left, cross another private track and continue beside the trees and hedge, over to the left is a pond. Keep ahead and go through a gate. Turn right along the lane (300m to the left is the former home of Robert Morley), pass the entrance to Hennerton Golf Club and continue for 150m to a signposted path. Turn left through the gate and follow the path south-eastwards across the large field to the fence on the far side. Stay in the field and turn right, following the fence on the left.
3 (SU794795) – Leave through a gate and turn left along the lane (Highfield Road) for 100m and turn right through another gate. Follow the path along the right-hand side of the field to a path junction at the corner. Turn left to stay in the field and follow the right-hand hedge for 120m, then dogleg right through the hedge into the adjacent field and continue, now following the hedge and woodland on your left. At the field corner cross the stile to a three-way junction. Turn right along the tree-shaded bridleway for 100m and then turn left on a footpath following the field edge. Go through a gate and continue up the edge of Bottom Boles Wood. Keep ahead, with a field on the left, up to a path junction (gate to right).
4 (SU806797) – Turn left and follow the path through the trees down to a dip and continue straight on. Keep ahead at cross-path junction (the Chiltern Way joins from right) and continue through High Knowl Wood for 500m. Turn right along the lane for 50m and then turn left along the restricted byway through the trees, soon passing Rebecca’s Well. A path joins from the left, keep ahead along the restricted byway to a lane. Turn right along the lane for 150m and immediately after the village hall turn right (to shorten the walk follow the lane back to the start). Continue along the enclosed path (Chiltern Way) to its end and go through a gate. Turn left along the lane to a junction with the entrance to Cayton Park opposite. Turn left and follow the lane for 250m to a junction and turn left again to arrive back at the start.