Berkshire walk through Twyford and Ruscombe
PUBLISHED: 12:19 05 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:58 05 October 2017
Steve Davison leads the way on a walk through Twyford and Ruscombe in East Berkshire and also visits BBOWT’s Loddon Nature Reserve
Twford – the place with two fords – has a history stretching back to Saxon times and probably much earlier. Tradition claims that St Mary’s Church was built on a former druid site and, when the old Norman church was rebuilt by the Victorians, 12 large stones were found at the foundations of the tower. Just to the west of the village there are several flooded gravel pits, and one of these now forms the BBOWT (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust) Loddon Nature Reserve. The path meanders round the lake passing several viewpoints and seats allowing you to admire the views and the wildlife which includes various waterfowl and insects such as butterflies and damselflies.
After leaving the reserve the walk passes under Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous Great Western Railway before crossing the River Loddon at Whistley Bridge. Next stop is Stanlake Park. The estate dates back to the 12th century when it was in the ownership of the Earl of Salisbury, jump forward several centuries and in 1979 Jon Leighton took the decision to plant a small test area with 500 vines; Stanlake Park Vineyard now has over 20,000 vines (for information: www.stanlakepark.com).
After re-crossing the railway the route heads through picturesque Ruscombe which was mentioned in the 11th-century foundation charter of Salisbury Cathedral. Parts of St James’ Church dates from Norman times, though the brick tower, described as ‘the finest of the post-Reformation towers in Berkshire’ was added shortly before 1640. Step inside to see the 14th-century wagon-shaped roof, several wall paintings and some interesting memorials including one to Sir James Eyre, Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.
• Start/finish: pay and display car park at Polehampton Close off the High Street in Twyford; grid ref SU786759
• Map: OS Explorer 159
• Distance: 4¾ miles (7.7km)
• Terrain: fairly level, tracks and paths which can be muddy, some stiles and gates, and sections of road
• Time: 2 hours without stops
• Refreshments: Several choices in Twyford including the Waggon and Horses (01189 340376), the Duke of Wellington (01189 340456) and The Golden Cross (01189 340180); Stanlake Park Cellar Shop (01189 340176)
1 (SU786759) – From the car park turn left along the High Street for 125m and just before Silk Lane turn left along a footpath, passing some steps and a couple of bridges. At the apartments ahead, turn left and then right over the footbridge and bear left along a path beside the River Loddon. After 50m turn right on a permissive path and then right again to follow the Wildlife Walk path anti-clockwise around Loddon Nature Reserve (at the information board situated at the northern entrance to the reserve a short detour leads to the Waggon and Horses pub). Follow the path as it curves south and then east round the lake to reach a signposted path junction.
2 (SU785755) – Turn right, away from the lake, go under the railway and continue for 750m with a lake and fence on the right for a time to reach a lane. Turn left for 50m and then follow the enclosed path beside the electricity pole on the right-hand side of the lane. Later bear left to cross the lane and take the path opposite as it curves right, staying parallel with the lane. Rejoin the lane, cross the River Loddon at Whistley Bridge and continue for 75m. Turn left along an enclosed track (bridleway) and cross over the A321 to a gravel parking area.
3 (SU792746) – Do not take the byway (Hogmoor Lane) but bear slightly right into the field and follow the path along the left-hand margin running parallel to the byway. Cross a stile and continue through the next field to the far left corner. Turn left across the stile, then right along the byway for 125m. Turn left along a signposted path through a gap in the hedge and continue across the field. Cross the footbridge and turn left (ignore path ahead) to follow a path round the wood. Cross the footbridge and stile into the field and follow the right-hand boundary. Keep ahead through the next field and cross a stile beside the gate to join the B3018; to the right is the entrance to Stanlake Park.
4 (SU799752) – Turn left along the pavement, crossover at Stanlake Bridge, continue along the pavement for 40m and turn right through a kissing gate. Head across the field, go through gates either side of the track and keep ahead along the fenced path; to the left is the vineyard and to the right is the 17th-century Elizabethan Stanlake Manor. Go through a kissing gate, cross the footbridge and continue through the field towards the houses. Turn left along Southbury Lane towards Ruscombe and cross over the railway to a junction.
5 (SU798762) – Fork left, passing to the left of the church to a junction. Keep left (Bracknell and Binfield) and with care follow the road – there is no pavement. Cross the railway and continue for 175m before turning right past a gate. Continue across Stanlake Meadow Recreation Ground staying close to the right-hand edge. Go through the gap in the hedge and turn right along the pavement, shortly after crossing the railway turn left along Station Road beside The Golden Cross pub. Continue past the station and follow the road as it swings right. Continue past St Mary’s Church and bear left along the A321 to a crossroads. Turn left along the High Street (A3032) to the Duke of Wellington pub and then left back to the car park.