Berkshire dog-friendly walk - Woolhampton & Midgham Park
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 June 2020
A classic Berkshire country walk, this easy-to-navigate circuit starts by following the towpath along the Kennet and Avon Canal for a mile and a half.
The canal is a popular spot for dog walkers as dogs can run freely without worrying about sheep or cars.
You can also stop to watch the narrowboats passing through the locks as the boats travel from one water level to another. There is a short stretch of road-walking, passing St Matthew’s church, Midgham, whose tall spire can be seen on the horizon from miles around as it proudly stands on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding valley. You then head back towards Woolhampton via the wide rolling landscape of Midgham Park.
1. Follow the towpath by the Kennet and Avon canal in front of The Rowbarge pub, heading west and past Woolhampton Lock. Cross Oxlease Swing Bridge and continue along the towpath on the opposite side of the canal. Pass Heale’s Lock, then cross back over the canal at Cranwells Swing Bridge to continue along the towpath, listening out for the skylarks in the fields beside you. Follow the path under a road bridge, then walk up by this bridge to the road.
2. Turn left and walk by the side of Brimpton Road with care, as a section of this road has no pavement. Look out for the Victorian spire of St Matthew’s in Midgham on top of a hill ahead of you. When you reach the A4, turn left, cross the road with care and walk up Church Hill, by the side of the Coach and Horses pub. Again there is no pavement, but this is a quiet road with grassy verges. Pass St Matthew’s church and continue ahead for a short distance through Midgham to School Hill. As the road begins to dip down, look out for a gap on your right, by the end of a garden wall and the start of the hedge.
3. Go through this gap and you will see the rolling hills of Midgham Park opening out in front of you. Walk down a short path, then turn left and walk with the gardens of some houses on your left, heading east across the fields. Go through a metal farm gate and cross the gravel drive of Midgham House, then follow the footpath sign in front of you through the gate and across the fields. Listen out for the sound of woodpeckers in spring, guarding their territory in the trees around you. The footpath veers to the left by some tall trees with their branches decorated with giant balls of mistletoe. Walk north east, heading towards Hallcourt Farm up on your right. Cross the stile, which has a dog-friendly gap under it, or go through the farm gate next to you. Then cross this field to another stile, with a gap for dogs next to it.
4. Turn right and follow New Road Hill as it leads you downhill back to Woolhampton. When you get to the busy A4, turn left and cross the road. Follow the footpath sign which takes you down a narrow shady path between the houses. When you get to the road, turn right and walk past Midgham Station, renamed in the 1930s after the stationmaster got fed up with redirecting packages for Wolverhampton. Cross the railway tracks and return to the car park by The Rowbarge pub.
Start/finish: Car park at Midgham Railway Station in Woolhampton
Distance: 4 miles or 17km, circular walk
Time: 2 hours
Refreshments: The Rowbarge, Woolhampton
Terrain: Easy walking along the towpath while the fields in Midgham Park can be boggy in places. There is road-walking up Church Hill, then later downhill to the A4, which links these two different places.
We love a new app – especially one with expertise baked in, and this is one you’re going to use all the time! Dog Walks App has been developed by the team at Countryside Books in Newbury, who have been publishing walking guidebooks for more than 40 years.
A first-of-its-kind product, dedicated to compiling and curating dog-friendly walking routes (hurrah!), at the touch of a button users will have instant access to more than 400 walks, hand-picked by experts and tested on dogs. What’s not to love?
Rory Batho, from Countryside Books in Newbury, says: “My wife and I, plus our two girls, live in the centre of Newbury and we absolutely love it. My wife is from the town and although we met in London, it felt inevitable that we would move back to Berkshire at some point. I’m glad we did. There’s a sense of community here that I haven’t experienced in places I’ve lived previously – our girls’ school is a one-minute walk away and we know pretty much all the neighbours on our street.
“I also love how close Newbury is to all our other favourite places. Whether we’re heading south to the coast, east to London or west to our family in Bath, everything seems to be about an hour away.”
And, of course, Newbury and the surrounding towns and villages in Berkshire have some glorious dog walks, so Rory decided it would be great to create an app showcasing them.
“Many of the walks on the app come directly from our hugely successful and respected dog-walking guides,” he says.
And as well as the incredible content, this app is designed to be really easy to use – route maps show the user’s location and direction of travel, and they can easily toggle between a map view and written instructions.
An annual subscription of £5.99 will give the user access to hundreds of walks across England – all of them accessible at the touch of a button. There’s even the option to try before you buy. Users can download it for free and get access to a selection of walks in their area, and upgrading for a small fee unlocks hundreds more.
Dog Walks App is available now on the App Store, with an Android version in the works as we write this...