Berkshire walk - Newbury and Donnington Castle

PUBLISHED: 17:09 10 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 10 February 2020

Elevated view of Donnington Castle Ruins (c) Webistry/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Elevated view of Donnington Castle Ruins (c) Webistry/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Webistry

Colin Wharton brings you a Valentine’s walk along the canal path at Newbury, taking in the sights of Snelsmore Common and Donnington Castle.

River Kennet in Newbury (c) Richard Hall/Getty Images/iStockphotoRiver Kennet in Newbury (c) Richard Hall/Getty Images/iStockphoto

This is a chance to explore an interesting section of Newbury to the north, past Snelsmore Common and the ruined remains of Donnington Castle.

Newbury station is well connected and has regular trains from London Paddington. The car park charges £4.40 at weekends or after 10am on weekdays (always check before travelling).

1. From the northern side of the main station exit, turn right and follow the road (Cheap Street). Continue north up Cheap Street with the main shopping area to your left until you reach a pedestrianised square (Market Place) and veer left towards Bartholomew Street, keeping

St Nicolas Church on your left. Continue to the bridge (SU 47113 67173), crossing the Kennet and Avon Canal. Over the bridge, look out for a path on your left leading to the lock and canal path.

The Kennet and Avon Canal is made up of a navigable river and canal, and is very picturesque with many original old locks and canal-side pubs.

2. Follow the canal until you reach a main bridle path (SU 46503 67103) that is marked the Lambourn Valley Way. The Lambourn Valley Way is a national long-distance footpath that runs from the Berkshire Downs close to the Uffington White Horse to Newbury.

Continue on the Lambourn Valley Way north, veering west for a short time and then north again past the church of Saint Mary the Virgin (SU 45563 67818) at Speen. Follow a short section of Speen Lane, cross the A4 (Bath Road) and continue on the Lambourn Valley Way up to the Lambourn Road.

Speen is village on the edge of Newbury and the parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin is late Saxon and the oldest in Newbury. It is the burial place of Giovanni Battista Castiglione (1515-98), the Italian tutor to Queen Elizabeth I.

3. Follow the footpath alongside the Lambourn Road under the A34 and turn right, following the Lambourn Valley Way to get to the small hamlet of Bagnor. You can stop for refreshments at The Blackbird (SU 45373 69268) before you continue right and then left northwards, following the restricted byway sign.

Continue northwards until you reach Snelsmore Common and country park, and head for the car park and café (SU 46340 71018). Snelsmore Common is an area of about 104-hectares and listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, containing heath, bog and woodland. The park is a great place to have a break and admire the natural habitat.

4. From the country park and café follow the track back southwards past Hill's Pightle and cross the A34 over the bridge. The path will take you to Donnigton Castle (SU 46118 69195). The medieval ruins mark history from the 14th century. The castle was a royalist stronghold during the English Civil War and withstood an 18-month siege. Only the gatehouse survives and is now run by English Heritage.

5. After the castle follow the footpath north to Nothing Hill, following a road northwards (Oxford Road) past a hotel and then eastwards along a footpath and then under a tunnel under the A339. Follow the footpath southwards to the aptly named Love Lane, and then right at Church Lane past St Mary's Church (SU 47470 68278), then through Shaw. At the main road interchange roundabout take the crossing to get to St Joseph's Catholic Church.

6. From the church follow Park Lane south until you reach the Kennet and Avon Canal. Follow the canal westwards until you reach the centre of Newbury again and the start of the walk.

COMPASS POINTS

Start/finish: Newbury Station, Station Approach, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 5DG

(SU 47298 66768)

Explorer map: 158 Newbury & Hungerford

Distance: 10 miles or 16km, circular walk

Time: 3-4 hours

Refreshments: Eateries in Newbury

Terrain: Largely flat walk from Newbury along the canal but undulating towards Snelsmore Common and back to Newbury

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