A Berkshire walk through Ashampstead and Yattendon
PUBLISHED: 11:57 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:21 25 September 2020
We’re heading to the west of Reading for a wander through historic Ashampstead and Yattendon, home of the West Berkshire Brewery
This month’s walk meanders through fairly level farmland to the west of Reading and visits the interesting villages of Ashampstead and Yattendon; the latter being home to the award winning West Berkshire Brewery.
The village of Ashampstead, mentioned at the time of the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror gave the lands to William FitzOsbern, is home to the picturesque late 12th century St Clements Church with its wooden bell turret.
However, the real treasure of this little Norman church is to be found inside, where the walls are decorated with fragments of 13th-century medieval wall paintings. Those on the north wall of the nave depict religious scenes from the birth of Christ, whilst on the chancel arch can be seen the remains of the Last Judgement, or Doom, with the figure of Christ and the Apostles and souls being admitted to Heaven (left) or dragged down to Hell (right). The paintings were uncovered in 1895 having been plastered over following the 16th-century Reformation.
Once past the church the walk heads towards Casey Fields Farm Shop before heading south through fields to arrive at Yattendon.
Like Ashampstead, Yattendon was mentioned in the Domesday Book when the manor was held by ‘William son of Ansculf’. Step inside the 15th-century Church of St Peter and St Paul to see a memorial to Sir John Norreys (d.1466), a distinguished soldier in the reign of Elizabeth I and lord of the manor who built the present church; the Norreys family, and their descendants, held the manor of Yattendon until the 19th century.
On the north wall of the nave there is a tablet (Latin inscription) commemorating Harriet Molesworth, her son Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930) and his wife Monica Waterhouse; Bridges, a doctor by profession, became the Poet Laureate in 1913 and his works include London Snow.
Tucked within the village, to the south of the church, is the award winning West Berkshire Brewery. Originally established in 1995 in a barn beside the Pot Kiln at Frilsham, the brewery, which offers guided tours, is home to the Taproom and Kitchen cafe.
From Yattendon the route heads north through fields and woods back to Ashampstead.
• Start/finish: edge of recreation ground in Ashampstead - limited parking
• Map: OS Explorer 158
• Distance: 5 miles (8km)
• Terrain: gates and stiles, gentle ups and downs, paths and tracks and sections of country lane, so family friendly
• Time: 2.5 hours
• More Info & Books: steve-davison.co.uk
1 (SU565769) – Face green and turn right to crossroads. Go down Church Lane for 100m, turn right through a gate to the churchyard. Follow path left of the church and leave through a gate. Head across fields separated by gates and turn left along the concrete track. Just before the farm shop turn right, following a track through trees. Continue to waymarker.Turn left across the field to reach trees on the far side. Go through a gate and follow the left-hand field edge.
2 (SU554758) – Go through gates either side of a track and continue between the trees and hedge. Go through another gate and follow hedge on the right. At the field corner go left for 75m still following the hedge and turn right through a gate. Head diagonally left across the corner of the field, cross the boundary into the next field and turn right following the right-hand field margin for 200m. At the waymarker, head across the field, passing a wooden electricity pole. Cross a stile and continue through the paddock to another stile. Bear left to a junction in Yattendon.
3 (SU554758) – Keep left, passing The Royal Oak and village hall to a footpath sign. For the brewery turn right across the road and follow Church Lane (if not visiting the brewery just turn left through the churchyard). Keep left at T-junction for 300m and turn left to the Brewery; retrace the route and enter the churchyard, before leaving through a gate in the far corner. Continue between trees and hedge to end of Oaken Copse.
4 (SU557750) – Keep ahead through the field for 600m on right-hand boundary to a junction in far right corner; Calvesleys Farm is to the right. Keep ahead, with wood on the left and field to the right. Follow field edge round to the right (waymarker) for 250m. Shortly before the field corner, turn left at waymarker and head through the trees to a track. Turn right along the dip in the field to Pinfold Lane. Turn left up the track, later becoming Church Lane and continue past St Clements Church. On reaching the crossroads passed earlier turn right back to the start.
• The ultimate Berkshire walking guide - With the North Wessex Downs, Windsor’s Long Walk and a whole host of beautiful towns and villages, Berkshire is an amazing place for a stroll