All routes start and finish in Elms Field, and share the same path at the start, branching off at different points along the way. All routes are clearly signed with arrows, and there will be marshals at significant points. There are also mile markers. Try to remember which markers you have passed so you can be located in case of emergency.
Hazards on the route are indicated by a Triangle with an explanation mark. Take special care when you see these and be aware of your surroundings.
In order to minimise the use of “one shot” disposable water bottles you are strongly encouraged to bring your own water supply in a reusable bottle. We will supply a limited amount of disposable water bottles which will be available in exchange for a donation to the selected charity.
There is one rest stop on the 10-mile route and two on the 15-mile route. Water, sweets and bananas are available at each stop.
Woodland Route – 5 miles
This route has been designed for those that are new to walking, or perhaps want to bring their children and/or dogs along for a nice day out in the surrounding countryside. We estimated it will take you around 2 hours to complete.
Starting in Elms Field, it quite quickly passes along footpaths, through into the countryside and woodland without crossing any major roads. There is a bridge over the railway line from which the route continues to the Gorrick Plantation.
On the return from the Gorrick Plantation you will pass the Henry Lucas Hospital, Wokingham’s only grade 1 listed building which was built in 1665 as an Alms House for the elderly of the area.
There is a free “Nature Trail” included to keep the children occupied which involves looking for nature and wildlife along the route.
Route 2 – 10 miles
We have introduced a 10 mile route at the request of parents who wanted to challenge their children to a longer walk without making the “leap” to 15 miles.
The route starts on the same paths as the Woodland route and then splits off in the Gorrick Plantation, taking a bridleway that emerges on Nine Mile Ride. This is probably the most well known of the “rides” that passed through the royal forests, created throughout this area for Queen Anne (and later George III). In old age, she was unable to ride with the hunt, so liked to follow in her carriage instead.
You then pass around Heath Lake, which consists of an area of woodland and heath land in the parish of Wokingham Without. The shallow 7 acre lake is the only acid lake in Berkshire. This means it has a naturally high pH which supports several rare plants, including the water-milfoil and the 6 stemmed water crowfoot. Designated as a site of special scientific interest.
The route then crosses the fairways of a East Berks Golf Course on a public foot path. Please pay attention to the Golf Club signage asking you to look to check that it is safe to proceed before continuing.
A path takes you between Wellington College where numerous famous past pupils including James Hunt, Will Young, Rory Bremner and George Orwell were educated. You will cross the Railway track over a recently re-opened bridge, emerging at Ambarrow Car Park, where there is a rest stop with a supply of water, sweets and bananas.
The route then takes in some marvellous Bluebell woods before passing across the Devil’s Highway, which is an old Roman road that connected London to Bath via nearby Silchester.
The route continues to the Wokingham side of Simon’s Wood then rejoins the Woodland route in the Gorrick plantation.
Route 3 – 15 miles
This route follows the 10-mile route as far as Ambarrow Car Park (where there is a rest stop) then splits off to follow the River Blackwater to the Queens Oak pub in Finchampstead, where there is another rest stop with a supply of water, sweets and bananas. The pub will be pleased to sell more interesting refreshments and allow you to use their toilet facilities! If you would like to have lunch at the pub we would recommend booking in advance.
You might like to briefly visit St James Church, near the Queens Oak. This beautiful 12th century church uniquely has the burials of two holders of the Victoria Cross Britain’s highest award for bravery: Alfred Stowell Jones VC (Indian Mutiny, Delhi) and Sir John Watson VC (Indian Mutiny, Lucknow)
From the Queens Oak the route follows the old Roman Road to Heath Ride before rejoining the Woodland route on the Wokingham side of Simon’s Wood