Today we’re walking in Berkshire and the ancient Kingdom of Wessex and, it turns out, I’ve been joined by Ethelred’s long-lost grand-daughter, ‘Susan the Unready‘. We arrive at the Lardon Chase car park to discover that Sue’s left her walking boots behind! It seems she ‘needs a new pair of boots, anyway’ so, in true Saxon style, we fight our way into Reading and ransack the local GoOutdoors for a new pair. This is not a good thing to do on a Bank Holiday! Two hours later and a lighter wallet, we return to start our walk.
In spite of our inauspicious start, this is a thoroughly enjoyable walk. It has a pleasing mix of river views, secluded valleys, downland views and sleepy country villages. We follow the Thames as far as Moulsford before striking up onto the Downs through Unhill Wood and Cow Common. From up here the views are far and wide, including the Chilterns and Oxfordshire in the distance. We arrive at Aldworth by mid-afternoon. Local legend has it that a young Alfred the Great and another King Ethelred defeated the Danes near here in 871 AD (the Battle of Ashdown). Ethelred refused to join battle until the priest had finished his sermon…another late start…a theme emerges!
From here the quiet lanes and woodland tracks take us to Ashampstead and on to Stubbles (nice name!). We’re not used to walking into the late afternoon but it’s really enjoyable. The lanes are absolutely deserted…so far we’ve been walking for a good 4 hrs and have met 1 cyclist…and the heat of the day has released some intoxicating hedgerow smells.
The final climb to the high ground above Streatley is tough but there are some lovely views out towards Reading. By now Susan the Unready is ready…but for a rest and explains so at regular intervals…it doesn’t help that I guzzled most of the water 5 miles back! We arrive back at the car by 7-15pm, a very enjoyable 15.4 mile walk and being unready had some advantages in the end…we saw the best part of the day!
Streatley picture gallery (more pictures on Flickr):
Distance: 15.4 miles ; Difficulty: Moderate
Postcode for Satnav: RG8 9AF