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Finchampstead Ridges and Blackwater Valley

There are currently 8 comments and 3 photos online for this walk.

Finchampstead Ridges and Blackwater Valley
Author: Richard, Published: 28 Sep 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Berkshire, Crowthorne
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Finchampstead Ridges and Blackwater Valley
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4 mile circular walk from Simons Wood near Crowthorne in Berkshire. The walk heads south through the heath of Finchampstead Ridges and then through the Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve to reach the River Blackwater. After following the river the walk turns back north to pass through paddocks and woodland to reach the start.

The walk has a number of steady climbs and descents and includes a number of kissing gates but no stiles. The woodland and field paths can be very muddy after wet weather and there is also some road walking along quiet country lanes. The walk passes through a few paddocks which may be holding horses so take care with dogs here. There are no toilets or refreshments on route. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts from the free National Trust car park in Simons Wood accessed from the B3348 Wellingtonia Avenue in Crowthorne, Berkshire. Approximate post code RG45 6AE. The nearest train station is Crowthorne which is less than a mile from the start point.

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Walk Sections

Start to Track
Start to Track

Start point: 51.3655 lat, -0.8336 long
End point: 51.3608 lat, -0.8373 long

From the car park, walk back along the access track to reach the T-junction with Wellingtonia Avenue. Turn right and follow the narrow pavement alongside the road.

Wellingtonia Avenue was planted with Giant Redwood or Giant Sequoia trees in 1869. Another name for the tree species in England is Wellingtonia trees and it is from this that the avenue takes its name. The trees are native to California, they grow to a height of between 50 and 95 metres and can live for 4,000 years. Even though these examples are less than 150 years old, their height still makes an impressive sight as drivers pass along the avenue.

Before you reach the bend marked with a chevron sign, cross to the left hand side of the road and continue along the grass verge. As you reach the chevron signs, turn left onto an open footpath immediately to the right of the white-walled vehicle entrance.

Follow this path into the woods and continue as it goes over the brow of the hill and heads steeply downhill. Continue ahead as a wider path merges in from the right. A few paces later ignore the path with boardwalks off to the left and, instead, go straight on as the path begins to level off.

Pass by a pond on the left and you will reach a T-junction with a wider path. Turn left to pass along the bottom edge of the pond and follow this path as it swings to the left and begins to climb again. As you reach a gate ahead, fork right out through the gap in the fence to reach the corner of a wide track.

Track to River Blackwater
Track to River Blackwater

Start point: 51.3608 lat, -0.8373 long
End point: 51.3524 lat, -0.8445 long

Turn right along the stone track with the fences of paddocks on the raised banks to your left. Continue passing a partially thatched cottage on the left and a little distance later you will come to a T-junction with Moor Green House on your left. Turn right here along the quiet tarmac lane taking care of any traffic.

Continue past horse paddocks and you will then pass Ridgedale House on the right hand side. A little distance further, opposite Blackwater View, turn left under the vehicle barrier into a stone car park. Pass through the squeeze gap at the back of the car park and go straight ahead onto the public footpath with horse paddocks to the left.

This area is part of the Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve. Soon on your left you’ll get your first view of the lakes that make up the nature reserve. The reserve currently covers 90 acres and comprises three lakes that have been restored from the past gravel extraction works. Gravel extraction continues to the west of this site and eventually the reserve will be extended to include restored lakes in this area. A haven for wildlife, more than 100 species of birds are recorded annually including Little Egret, Lapwings, Mandarin Ducks and Ospreys.

Continue over a wooden footbridge and then keep left at the fork. On the left you’ll pass a slatted wooden screen which acts as an excellent viewing point to watch the wildfowl on the lakes. Eventually you will reach a T-junction with the River Blackwater ahead.

River Blackwater to Activity Centre
River Blackwater to Activity Centre

Start point: 51.3524 lat, -0.8445 long
End point: 51.3524 lat, -0.8236 long

Skirt right and then left to join the footpath running closest to the river, with the water running on your right. When the fence ends on the left hand side, keep left to continue on the path running alongside the river – do not take the bridge across to the opposite side.

The River Blackwater runs for 17 miles from its source near Aldershot to Swallowfield where it meets the River Loddon. Along this stretch it forms the boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire.

Eventually you will come to a Horseshoe Lake sign with a gated footpath off to the left. Keep right here, still on the path running alongside the river. After some distance, pass under power lines and a couple of bends later you’ll see metal gates ahead. (It is wise to put dogs on leads here as there is open access to the road). Just before you reach the metal gates turn left through the gap in the fence and follow the stone footpath to reach the car park of Horseshoe Lake.

With the car park ahead, keep left to follow the narrow footpath with Horseshoe Lake to the left. Soon you will reach the Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre on the right.

Activity Centre to Bluebell Wood
Activity Centre to Bluebell Wood

Start point: 51.3524 lat, -0.8236 long
End point: 51.3577 lat, -0.823 long

Horseshoe Lake is named after the horseshoe shaped island in its centre. The lake is 22 acres in size and is home to a range of water sport activities. In summer the lake is a hive of activity with everything from pedalos and rowing boats to rafts, kayaks, sailing dinghies and dragon boats.

Keep straight ahead and pass through a kissing gate. At the top, where the main path swings left, keep ahead through a kissing gate and go over a narrow sleeper bridge to reach a tarmac lane. Cross over and take the footpath opposite through a metal kissing gate.

Follow the field edge path with the hedgeline to your left. Pass through a second metal kissing gate and continue along the left hand edge of the next field. At the end, a third metal kissing gate takes you into a horse paddock. Keep to the left hand edge again and at the top pass through a wooden gate and a few paces later you’ll reach the road.

Turn left along the tarmac lane, taking care of any traffic. As the road bends left, turn right past a metal gate into woodland (the turn is immediately after the drive to Ambarrow Lodge).

Bluebell Wood to End
Bluebell Wood to End

Start point: 51.3577 lat, -0.823 long
End point: 51.3656 lat, -0.8325 long

Follow the path through Bluebell Wood. As you meet a wooden gate ahead, keep right to follow the footpath with woodland to the right and paddocks to the left. The path swings left between fences and then enters the next woodland copse.

Keep left at the fork and follow the stony path climbing quite steeply uphill. The path levels off and then winds gently though the woodland. Keep right at the fork and you will reach a T-junction with a wider stone track with a fence opposite. Turn right along the track and follow it until it emerges out onto Wellingtonia Avenue.

Cross over the road with care and take the footpath opposite into Simons Wood. After about 150 yards take the left hand turn through the trees and after just a short distance you will reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author Richard and may not be reproduced without permission.


8 responses to "Finchampstead Ridges and Blackwater Valley"

Fab here today. Boats are on the water. Clear blue skies.

By Richard on 2013-05-26 10:26:18

Thanks for this. My family and I walked it today and it was beautiful.

By PaulB31 on 2013-05-31 21:22:59

Lovely walk today with family and our 2 dogs. Plenty of benches along the way to stop and picnic and the dogs loved swimming in the river. Definitely do it again :-)

By Izzypenn on 2013-06-09 14:20:41

Lovely walk, will take picnic next time, dogs enjoyed dipping into the river.

By doglets on 2013-08-28 15:36:33

lovely walk. There were horses in the fields you have to to through but they were friendly so don't worry

By hyperfied on 2015-06-20 15:02:47

This is a fantastic walk with plenty of things to see and a mix of terrain. Many places to stop for a rest too. Thanks!

By wolfsburg8v on 2016-05-09 11:25:39

Perfect walk on a hot sunny day. Plenty of opportunity for dogs to cool off in the river and much of the walk in quiet shady woodland. Loved it!

By jansmith on 2016-07-23 09:38:44

Fantastic walk - really peaceful with some great scenery. Brilliant!

By linnie43 on 2016-08-16 13:48:44

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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3 images to "Finchampstead Ridges and Blackwater Valley"

1435_0Richard1369560407 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

1435_0Richard1369560430 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

1435_0Richard1369560492 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

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