Berkshire walk around Leckhampstead and Peasemore
PUBLISHED: 10:51 15 January 2019
© Steve Davison
There’s no better way to burn off the turkey on Boxing Day than with an easy walk on the Downs through Leckhampstead and Peasemore
Our walk this month takes us west to the village of Leckhampstead, tucked amongst the rolling Berkshire Downs, which form part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Known as Lecanestede in the Domesday Book, we head south through the village to the brick and flint St James’ Church, which was built in 1859. The building replaced a much older church that probably dated back to Saxon times, though fortunately, several items were reused including the Jacobean pulpit and the 13th century font. From here we head east through fields, passing the picturesque hamlet of Hill Green with its collection of lovely thatched cottages, including the Old Manor, before arriving at Peasemore.
The first reference to the village was in a charter of King Edred in 951 and, like Leckhampstead, it was mentioned in the Domesday Bookwhere it was known as Praxemere. However, the area’s history goes back much further than this as a Neolithic stone axe was found at Prince’s Farm and flint tools were found at Warren Down. The Manor House is slightly more recent, having been built in the early 15th century, with later alterations; this was once the home of Thomas Chaucer, the son of the great poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
At the south-eastern corner of the village is Peasemore House, which was once owned by Poughley Priory; the priory, which was founded in 1160, was located to the south-west near Welford. After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, Peasemore House passed to Cardinal Wolsey for a while.
The Victorian styled red-brick St Barnabas’ Church, which replaced an earlier Norman building, has a tall tower and spire that can be easily seen from the surrounding countryside. Just to the south of the church is the Old Rectory where former Prime Minister David Cameron was brought up.
From the church, we head past The Fox pub before turning south through Grove Pit Green common to arrive back at Leckhampstead, with its triangular shaped village green and unusual War Memorial. The Grade-II listed memorial comprises an obelisk on a plinth with two clocks, one facing north and the other south. The clock hands are made from old bayonets, with the roman numerals and minute marks made from spent ammunition. The surrounding chains, which are supported on shell cases, are from a battleship that took part in the Battle of Jutland.
• Start/finish: Village hall in Leckhampstead (SU439762), follow the road for Leckhampstead and Chaddleworth off the B4494 Newbury to Wantage Road; limited on-street parking
• Map: OS Explorer 158
• Distance: 4.25 miles (7km)
• Terrain: Stiles and gates, gentle ups and downs, paths and tracks, sections of country road
• Time: 2 hours
• Refreshments: The Fox at Peasemore
• More information: steve-davison.co.uk
1 (SU439762) From the village hall, head south along Shop Lane for 400m using pavement where available. Ignore Manor Lane on the right and then immediately before St James’ Church (left) turn left along a track (church on right). Keep ahead between fences and go through a gate. Here the path splits; take the left-hand fork (straight on) down the field. Cross over the road (B4494) and follow the fence opposite, heading gently uphill with the fence on your left. Continue along the left-hand field edge passing a house (Windmill Place) to a lane.
2 (SU450762) Turn left along the lane for 225m, passing thatched cottages including the white-painted Old Manor at Hill Green. On reaching a footpath sign, turn right down the track and at the end, dogleg right and continue alongside the hedge (cottage on left), then up across the field. At the top edge, go through the bushes and then keep ahead across the field to the fence opposite. Turn left along the fence line to a road. Keep left (straight on) to a junction and then keep right (straight on), following the road (Prince’s Lane) signposted to Peasemore for 200m.
3 (SU455768) Turn right through the bushes into the field and head diagonally across the field towards the distant church. On the far side, keep ahead through the garden to the gravel drive beside the house and turn left to a road; the church is on the right. Turn right to the junction and then go left (signposted to Lilley and East Ilsley) for 250m to a junction. Turn left along the road for Leckhampstead, soon passing The Fox at Peasemore. At the junction just after the pub, turn right (cricket pitch on left) and follow the lane for 600m. At the slight right-hand bend beside a footpath sign, next to Eastley Copse, fork left (not through the gate) and follow a path through the trees to enter a field.
4 (SU448777) Continue down the right-hand edge to a dip, keep ahead and then swing left to continue along the field edge. Head down to a stile in the right-hand corner, go over and turn right along the road for a few metres and then left along the track (byway). Follow the track as it swings left and enters Grove Pit Green common. Follow the track southwards for half a mile and just after a track from the garages joins from the right, fork left along a path through the recreation ground. Exit to a road and keep ahead past the green and War Memorial back to the village hall.
• Winter walks in Berkshire - When the weather gets colder, there’s not much more refreshing than a brisk walk across the countryside. Here are a few of those to enjoy in Berkshire