It is too enclosed for the mind to breathe, too urban – why seek to walk to Downing Street, when it is best sometimes to shut the door and walk away from it, to a quieter, riverside town where there is rest to find and less trouble. So, while many have started looking towards that street, and we have provided a series of ‘Downing Street Walks’ to assist them to find the way, what of an escape for rest, to a gentle town beside the green reaches of the River Thames; a place such as Maidenhead?
The back way out of Downing Street westward opens onto St James’s Park, with little paths by the lake leading to Buckingham Palace, but here it is time to bid farewell to the pomp of power and splendour – there is a walk ahead.
The mapped route follows through the Royal Parks, by the river, by the canal with is a monument to the industrial age, and into the beauties and otherwise of southern Buckinghamshire and eastern Berkshire, all to reach the refuge from the unforgiving town which you so need.
- Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25 000) series:
- Ordnance Survey Landranger (1:50 000) series:
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Several years ago there appeared on the BBC’s local pages for Berkshire a series of 14 articles on walks all around Berkshire, which could be put together to form a proposed ‘Berkshire Way’. No more has been heard since. Maybe it is time to revive this.
I have added a new Berkshire Way project page to WildþingUK: have a look and see what you think. I have walked some of the paths but nothing like enough to judge the route from experience.
The route is an eccentric one, apparently because it is designed as a series of relatively short half-day walks rather than a logical whole, and as such it loops wildly and bends back on itself as it finds new, interesting places to go. Seen in that way, it makes more sense – it is a way to see the highlights of the county, although in a county of so many beauties there will be plenty of highlights omitted.
The first published version has a major failing in that it misses a major part of Berkshire altogether, namely the north of the county all amongst the Berkshire Downs and Vale of White Horse. Therefore our project fixes this, adding a new first stage from the St John’s Bridge near Lechlade, on Berkshire’s short border with Gloucestershire, to Lambourn by way of the Ridgeway and the White Horse of Uffington. There is far more to be seen in the north of the county, not least in the greensward valleys leading down to the ancient county town, Abingdon, but we cannot see everything.
From Lambourn the route runs south to the highest point in the county, on Walbury Hill, then back across its waist, through the rich farmland in of western Berkshire. It takes in the main towns; first Newbury then back up to the Ridgeway and along the county’s northern border, the Thames, to Reading. The forests of eastern Berkshire are the next to be discovered. The finishing point is at Queen Victoria’s statute in Windsor.
It is an ambitious route but it provides a variety of experience truly to soak in nature of Berkshire as a whole.
(On the Project page)