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Route for a Berkshire walk/cycle ride around Greenham Common

PUBLISHED: 16:08 09 January 2019

A winter sunset at Greenham Common © Steve Davison

A winter sunset at Greenham Common © Steve Davison

© Steve Davison

Stretch the legs this winter (by walking or cycling) as we summarise a route around Greenham Common

The airfield at Greenham Common was built during World War II, but it was during the Cold War that Greenham became a household name. Rising tensions between NATO and the Soviet Union led to ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles being deployed here, which in turn gave rise to the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp during the 1980s; on two occasions, between 30,000 and 50,000 women circled the perimeter fence.

Following the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the airfield was declared redundant in 1992, and in 2000, after decades of military use, the common was officially reopened for public use. Most of the military structures have been removed, except for the central part of the single east–west runway that originally stretched for two-and-a-quarter miles, the reinforced-concrete silos that housed the cruise missiles, and the control tower which now houses a visitor information centre and cafe.

The common, which is a great place to explore, is managed by BBOWT and offers varied wildlife, from numerous butterflies to rare birds such as the nightjar and Dartford warbler, and a range of plants, including orchids.


Information

• Walk 2 start/finish: Car park at Greenham Common (SU498651); 1.5 miles east from A339 along Pinchington Lane and Bury Banks Road

• Map: OS Explorer 158

• Distance: 3.75 miles (6km)

• Terrain: Fairly level on tracks that are open to cycling, one gate

• Time: 1.75 hours

• Refreshments: Greenham Control Tower

The walk

1 (SU498651) – From the end of the car park head south past the control tower, go through a gate to a track junction. Turn left (east) along the track for three- quarters of a mile, ignoring a track to the right to reach a split junction. Fork left, soon following the track through trees.

2 (SU514649) – Keep to the track as it swings left and then curves right, soon with a road over to the left and pits on the right. Stay on the track as it continues to curve clockwise to reach a junction, with Old Thornford Road over to the left. Turn right and follow the track westwards, with the pits on the right to reach a split junction.

3 (SU516645) – Take the left fork heading south to another junction and turn right. Follow the track westwards for a mile. At the junction, turn right, crossing the centre of the former runway (tarmac area) to rejoin the main track used earlier. Turn left for 300m to a junction and turn right, retracing the route back to the car park. 


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