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California Country Park

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California Country Park
Author: Claire, Published: 05 Jul 2013 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 UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Berkshire, Finchampstead
Walk Type: Garden or park
California Country Park
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 2 mile circular walk around California Country Park in Berkshire. The park covers 100 acres and comprises lowland heath, bogland, a lake, a play area with paddling pool and a cafe. The park was originally opened in 1931 as an amusement park and zoo called California in England, the name California being taken from an old local brickworks. Over the years the site has housed a circus, miniature railway, speedway track and holiday camp. Today, the site is managed by Wokingham Borough Council for leisure and wildlife.

The route is relatively flat although some of the paths can be very muddy after rain and in the winter months, so good boots are a must at all times except after long dry summer spells. There are several kissing gates on route plus sections of boardwalk. Cattle can be grazing one small area of the park for conservation of the heath. There is a cafe alongside the car park at the start of the walk. Allow 1 hour.

California Country Park can be found at the western end of Nine Mile Ride, and is situated about half way between Wokingham and Finchampstead. The entrance lane is marked with a brown tourism site, about half a mile west of the double mini-roundabout at the Wick Hill/California junction. Park in the pay and display car park directly alongside the cafe (or if this is full use the overflow car park and return to the cafe to start the walk). Approximate post code RG40 4HT.

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Walk Sections

Start to Footbridge
Start to Footbridge

Start point: 51.3795 lat, -0.8739 long
End point: 51.3777 lat, -0.871 long

From the car park alongside the cafe, take the path beyond the octagonal brick shelter, heading directly for the lake. As you reach the lake ahead, turn sharp right onto the tarmac path with a hedgerow to the left. Follow this path winding between rhododendrons. Cross over the small access lane and continue on the path opposite until you reach a footbridge on the left.

Footbridge to Kissing Gate
Footbridge to Kissing Gate

Start point: 51.3777 lat, -0.871 long
End point: 51.381 lat, -0.8648 long

Turn left over the footbridge and at the far side turn right. Continue on the tarmac path as it passes the back of a property on the right. Just a few yards later you’ll come to a fork (alongside a dog bin) – fork right here. At the next fork, keep left onto the dirt and stone path which heads between tall lines of trees. At the end of this grassy ride keep ahead to rejoin a section of tarmac path to reach a kissing gate.

Kissing Gate to Lakeside
Kissing Gate to Lakeside

Start point: 51.381 lat, -0.8648 long
End point: 51.3805 lat, -0.8725 long

Pass through the kissing gate and turn left along the stone path with properties now to your right. At the end of the properties you’ll reach a T-junction. Turn left and follow the woodland path, ignoring the kissing gate to the left.

At the end of this section you’ll come to a junction with a fence ahead and a gate to the left. Bear left through the gap alongside the gate and then keep immediately right to join the tarmac fenced path as it swings right. Over to the left you’ll see the caravan site with the lake beyond.

The path soon runs between rhododendrons with the lake immediately to the left (you’ll see the cafe on the opposite bank). There is a bench here should you wish to spend time watching the wildfowl.

Lakeside to Boardwalk
Lakeside to Boardwalk

Start point: 51.3805 lat, -0.8725 long
End point: 51.3821 lat, -0.8781 long

Follow the tarmac path as it swings left along the bottom of the lake and then, just a few paces later, turn right down the dirt path heading into the woodland, heading away from the lake. Pass through a kissing gate and follow the stone path winding through a woodland clearing and then continuing back into a denser plantation. The path reaches another kissing gate which takes you onto a section of boardwalk.

Boardwalk to End
Boardwalk to End

Start point: 51.3821 lat, -0.8781 long
End point: 51.3798 lat, -0.8738 long

Follow the boardwalk over the area of wetland, a real haven for an array of water-loving insects and plants. The red colour of the mud and water is due to the high iron content of the natural soil.

At the end of the boardwalk pass through the kissing gate and follow the stone path as it winds through another woodland clearing. Note: there can be cattle grazing here at certain times of year so take care with dogs. The diverse plant life in this area includes Sundew, an insectivorous plant that consumes insects.

Continue over the footbridge and follow the path as it swings left through another kissing gate to re-enter the woodland. You’ll emerge to a T-junction with the lake ahead, turn right passing between the lake on the left and the paddling pool and play area on the right. Keep ahead and you’ll reach the cafe and car park where the walk began on your right.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

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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