Dog-friendly Berkshire walk near Chieveley
PUBLISHED: 11:14 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:15 14 February 2017
Follow Steve Davison as he heads to Chieveley for a fairly long dog-friendly walk, though with a shorter option, through the downs to the north of Newbury
From the parking area we head east down School Lane for a while before meandering through fields to arrive at Chieveley. Here we take a short loop through the village which has a pub – Ye Olde Red Lion – along Green Lane and a number of fine 18th century red-brick houses, including the Old Vicarage along the High Street.
The village, known as ‘Cifanlea’, was mentioned as far back at 951, when King Edred granted land to his servant Wulfric; the village name probably means field or clearing of ‘Cifa’, or maybe it has something to do with chives, as in the plant. The manor was later given to the abbey at Abingdon until it passed to the king in the 16th century. There was a Saxon church hereabouts, but that has long since gone, the present church – St Mary the Virgin – dates from the early 13th century, though with lots of alterations over the centuries.
After exploring the village, we head north through open fields before going west along New Road – which is actually a track – to a junction with Gidley Lane; this was once an old drove road to the market at East Ilsley. Here you have to decide between the long or short walk; the latter heads south along the byway back to the car park. The longer walk continues westwards to reach Chapel Farm before heading south to North Heath Common, where a short detour leads to the unusually named Crab and Boar pub. From here, it’s a short walk back to the start.
• Start/finish: parking area 1 mile west of Chieveley (SU462742); from the junction of Graces Lane and the High Street in Chieveley (just off the M4 / A34 junction) head west along School Lane (signposted for Winterbourne / Boxford) to a junction with the car park opposite
• Map: OS Explorer 158
• Distance: 5.75 mile (9.3km) or 3.75 mile (5.9km)
• Terrain: some gates but no stiles, gentle ups and downs, paths and tracks that can be muddy, and sections of road
• Time: 3 or 2 hours
• Refreshments: Ye Olde Red Lion (01635 248379) and the Crab and Boar (01635 247550) both in Chieveley
1 (SU462742) – From the parking area head east, following School Lane downhill for 600m. Shortly before the waterworks turn left along the hedge-lined track for 200m and turn right, still following the hedge. Ignore a permissive path to the left and soon keep ahead alongside the trees. Later dogleg left up steps into the field and continue along the right-hand margin as it swings left and right to a path junction just before Manor Lane (if you don’t want to explore the village you can turn left here). To continue with the walk keep ahead along the track to the High Street. Turn right for 125m and then go right along Church Lane to enter the churchyard (church ahead). Turn left, leave through a kissing gate and follow the enclosed path, cross the drive and keep ahead between fences to a road (School Road). Turn left to a junction; the private house opposite was once the Wheatsheaf pub and the Morland’s sign is still on the wall.
2 (SU476738) – A short way to the right is Ye Olde Red Lion, however, we turn left along the High Street for 400m passing Church Lane and then turn left along Manor Lane. Once back at the path junction passed earlier, take the right-hand path through the bushes and then along the left-hand field edge. Then keep ahead through the field to a track (New Road) on the far side. Turn left along the field edge, gently down to a dip. Keep ahead (ignore a path to left) and follow the shady route to a cross-junction with Gidley Lane (byway).
3 (SU465754) – here you have to decide between the two walks:
• Shorter walk - Turn left along the byway for three quarters of a mile to a road junction beside the parking area on the right.
• Main walk - Keep ahead along the tree-shaded route, later dogleg left into the field and keep ahead down the track to a cross junction. Go straight on along the bridleway for half a mile and follow the track as it turns left and then right, before turning left to go between the large barns at Chapel Farm. Keep ahead, with the big farmhouse on the right, to the road. Go straight on for a few metres and then turn left at the footpath sign. Head south, following the line of wooden electricity poles between fields to the lower field edge. Turn left for a few metres and then right, heading up beside a small wood on the left.
4 (SU462742) – Keep ahead towards North Heath Farm, bear right round the old barn and then swing left to a gate, keep ahead over the track and then take the enclosed path opposite to reach North Heath Common and a junction of ways. To visit the Crab and Boar keep ahead, soon going between the fence on the right and the trees on the left, then go along the byway to the road and pub on right; retrace steps and turn right along the right-hand hedge. If you are not visiting the pub, bear left and shortly follow the hedge on the right. Continue alongside the hedge on the right and then along the enclosed route back to the parking area.
• 10 pretty Berkshire villages you need to visit - Stunning, picturesque and beautiful are all words used constantly to describe the villages of Berkshire - and rightfully so. Why not take a visit and enjoy one of the fantastic pubs or restaurants on offer...