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Theale and Sulham

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Theale and Sulham
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 07 Jul 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Berkshire,
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Theale and Sulham
Length: 5 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 5 mile circular walk from the village of Theale, near Reading in Berkshire. Beginning in Theale’s High Street, the walk soon leaves behind the residential streets to pass the golf course and another hamlet before crossing farmland to reach the nearby village of Sulham. The return leg follows an ancient lane (now a bridleway) passing through the historic Sulham Estate.

The route is relatively flat with just a few gentle gradients. Whilst most of the route follows tarmac and stone paths, about one third of it follows woodland and field paths that can get quite muddy after periods of rain. There are a few gates plus three stiles (two will be easy for dogs with large gaps alongside, but one has a tight wooden fence surround that larger dogs may find more difficult to squeeze through). One of the fields may be holding livestock. Approximate time 2 hours.

Theale is accessed from Junction 12 of the M4. The walk starts from the long-stay pay and display car park at the east end of the High Street. Parking is free on a Sunday and 90p for ‘2 or more hours’ on other days (correct July 2013). Approximate post code RG7 5AL.

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Walk Sections

Start to North Street
Start to North Street

Start point: 51.4385 lat, -1.0729 long
End point: 51.4448 lat, -1.0836 long

Leave the car park to the road and turn right along Theale High Street. Continue passing an array of shops and the Bull and Falcon public houses. At the mini-roundabout keep straight ahead. Opposite the Red Lion on the left, turn right into Englefield Road. On the right you’ll pass the modern St Luke’s Catholic Church. Immediately afterwards turn right down The Courtyard, a signed public footpath.

Follow the path with a wall on the left and a hedge on the right and you will emerge to another road. Turn left here and keep ahead down the narrow alley in front of you. Pass through the staggered barrier, cross the next road and keep ahead on the narrow tarmac path across a small green.

Cross the next road and take the road opposite (North Walk). Keep to the left-hand pavement to join the narrow footpath to the left of the garages. Follow this fenced path with playing fields to the left. Pass the entrance of a golf club on the right and keep ahead on the tarmac path. Ignore the kissing gate to the right and keep ahead to reach a T-junction with the road.

North Street to First M4 Crossing
North Street to First M4 Crossing

Start point: 51.4448 lat, -1.0836 long
End point: 51.4519 lat, -1.079 long

Turn right onto North Street and, a few paces in, keep left at the fork. Follow the street between the pretty array of cottages including the timber-framed, thatched Bryar Cottage. Continue beyond the properties and where the road bends hard left, keep straight ahead onto a ‘no through road’. Where you reach a junction of paths with a gate ahead, follow the main track round to the right.

Ignore the kissing gate to the right at the next junction, simply follow the main track now bending left. As you pass a white property on the left, keep straight ahead through the gap alongside a wide gate onto a footpath lined with tall hedges. This will lead you to a footbridge across the M4.

First M4 Crossing to Sulham Hill
First M4 Crossing to Sulham Hill

Start point: 51.4519 lat, -1.079 long
End point: 51.4637 lat, -1.0754 long

Cross the footbridge and follow the path ahead as it passes through a pretty mixed woodland. Cross the wooden footbridge and keep ahead on the wide grassy ride. You will reach a crossroads of paths at the corner of a crop field – turn left here.

Follow the path along the left hand field boundary and in the far corner, go ahead over a stile (in fact it was derelict with a gap alongside at time of writing). Turn left along the edge of this next field and at the field corner you will see a footbridge ahead. (Should you wish to extend the walk you can cross this footbridge and explore Moor Copse Nature Reserve). Otherwise, do NOT cross the footbridge, instead turn right and follow the path along the left-hand field boundary.

At the top you’ll reach another stile – cross this into a pasture. Cross the field at 1 o’clock (with a concrete pill box over to the right) and cross the small footbridge via a pair of gates. Cross the next pasture at 1 o’clock and go over the stile to reach the road.

Sulham Hill to Nunhide Farm
Sulham Hill to Nunhide Farm

Start point: 51.4637 lat, -1.0754 long
End point: 51.4496 lat, -1.0713 long

Turn right along Sulham Hill. Keep ahead passing Sulham Lane to the left beginning to climb steadily. With a pretty white thatched cottage ahead (The Lodge), turn right down Nunhide Lane, passing St Nicholas’ Church to the left.

On the right you’ll pass the Sulham Estate, home to the Wilder family. The earliest known Wilder was a German soldier that fought for Henry VII, forming part of the army that defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. In 1497, the king gave Nicholas Wilder a landed estate here at Nunhide. The family have built many properties on the land over the centuries. The 17th century home still stands today as Nunhide Farm House. Sulham House was built in 1701 and remains the home of the Wilder family to this day.

Follow the main stone lane (a bridleway) for some distance. Eventually you’ll pass Coltmoor Cottages on the right. Further along, keep a look out on the left for glimpses of a brick tower on the hill. The tower is known as Wilder’s Folly or Nunhide Tower. It was built in 1769 by Henry Wilder when he was courting Joan Thoyts. Its position on the hill meant the tower could be seen both from his own home (Sulham House), and his sweetheart’s home (Sulhampstead House). In the late 1800s the windows were bricked up and the tower became a dovecote.

You will come to a wide gate across the track – the entrance to Nunhide Farm.

Nunhide Farm to End
Nunhide Farm to End

Start point: 51.4496 lat, -1.0713 long
End point: 51.4391 lat, -1.0707 long

Pass through the gap alongside the gate and keep ahead on the main track. You will hear the M4 getting louder as the track draws closer to it. Eventually you’ll emerge out to a T-junction with the road. Turn right, heading for the warehouse (Dunelm Mill) and before you reach it, turn sharp right to cross the M4 via another footbridge.

At the far side, keep right along the pavement heading away from the motorway. Keep ahead between properties and shortly you’ll reach the car park where the walk began on the 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.


2 responses to "Theale and Sulham"

Too over grown to follow the path about half way between points 2 & 3. So missed of a good chunk of Sulham. Followed the path through a gamers field which was a public paths anyway, continued the rest of the route.

By moochthepooc on 2015-06-20 16:34:03

Easy to follow and an easy and pleasant 2 hour walk. The only downside was the M4 traffic noise, but that was only in parts.

By stuartbarry on 2016-11-03 11:56:49

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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