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Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common

There are currently 7 comments and 18 photos online for this walk.

Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common
Author: DebbieK, Published: 08 Sep 2011 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guidestar1 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guidestar1 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guidestar1 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guidestar0 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide
Berkshire, Bagnor
Walk Type: Footpaths and Byways
Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide boot Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide
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This is a circular walk of approximately 4 miles, including the remains of Donnington Castle, woodland and the easy tranquil paths of Snelsmore Common.

There are no stiles on this walk and although there are a couple of fairly steep inclines the walk is suitable for all ages. Please note however it would be tricky to navigate some of the woodland with a pushchair.

Snelsmore Common houses grazing cattle, although these tend to be around the edges of the common, so please be careful with dogs as you enter the common.

The walk starts at The Blackbird, a lovely country pub in Bagnor, Newbury. The Blackbird is approximately 2 miles from Newbury town centre and is just off the A34, Newbury Bypass. Post code: RG20 8AQ. If you are not intending to have a meal at the pub, please park at Waypoint 3 instead (Snelsmore Common's free car park) and adjust the walk to start and finish there.

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Walk Sections

Start to Donnington Castle
Start to Donnington Castle

Start point: 51.4208 lat, -1.3497 long
End point: 51.4192 lat, -1.3397 long

Start at The Blackbird, Bagnor. Keeping the pub on your left, pass through the car park, past some cottages on your left and follow the gravel track to the kissing gate. Go through the kissing gate, turning left onto take the tarmac path up over the A34 to the edge of Donnington Grove golf course.

Follow the path through the golf course, keeping the green on your right. As you reach the top of the slope, cross over the intersecting tarmac path. As you reach the corner you’ll see a footpath way marker on your right, follow this into the wood. Keep the greens and fairways on your right hand side.

Donnington Castle to the fairways
Donnington Castle to the fairways

Start point: 51.4192 lat, -1.3397 long
End point: 51.4267 lat, -1.3413 long

As you emerge from the woodland you’ll see a gate in front of you, with a path to the right. Go through the gate and climb the slope up to Donnington Castle.

Donnington Castle was built by its original owner, Richard Abberbury the Elder in 1386 and the surviving castle gatehouse dates from this time. The castle was subsequently bought by Thomas Chaucer, the son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, as a residence for his daughter Alice, who later became Duchess of Suffolk. When the family fell out with the Tudor monarchs, the castle became a Royal property. Both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited Donnington Castle, in 1539 and 1568 respectively. Following the English Civil War in which the castle succeeded in guarding the major route ways from London to the West Country and Oxford to Southampton, Parliament voted in 1646 to demolish the castle leaving only the gatehouse, as we see it today.

As you pass round the back of the castle, you’ll see a gate. Take the gate and turn left onto the track, pass through the steel gate and follow the track as it leads past a timber barn on the left and a new barn conversion on the right. Bear left down the tarmac bridleway. Cross back over the A34 and sweep right along the bridleway following the drive as it dwindles to a track.

On to Snelsmore Common car park
On to Snelsmore Common car park

Start point: 51.4267 lat, -1.3413 long
End point: 51.4362 lat, -1.3343 long

Keep right at the fork and cut between the fences. On the left hand side you’ll pass by extensive fairways; be careful of any stray golf balls coming through the air and please be courteous to the golfers as the path is very close to the Tee squares. Follow the track towards a house set against the trees and keep to the left of it staying on the bridleway.

Pass through a gate onto Snelsmore common and go straight ahead at the way marked junction. Please note that livestock are walking freely in the common, so dogs should be kept under control.

Pass beneath power lines and continue straight ahead between bracken and gorse bushes. You will pass a couple of forks in the path; continue forward at each of these junctions. A useful directional landmark is the fire control tower (see additional photo in the gallery) which you pass on your left.

You’ll see the car park in front of you as you walk down the path, keep the first car park on your left, and continue down the path where you pass through the gate on your left and into the second car park. The car park houses a toilet block and a small refreshment hut selling drinks and ice creams. Please note that the toilet block is locked 4pm daily.

Snelsmore became a common in the medieval period, used for grazing of cattle and ponies and the collection of fallen timber and fuel. The common was believed to have been used as an ammunitions dump during Second World War. It became a country park in 1972 and Cattle returned to the common in 1999, where they can be seen grazing feely around the park helping control tree and scrub growth.

Entering Snelsmore Common
Entering Snelsmore Common

Start point: 51.4362 lat, -1.3343 long
End point: 51.4348 lat, -1.3406 long

Turn left, keeping the toilet block on your right and go through the entrance into the Snelsmore Common. Pass under the car barrier and at the sign take the right hand tarmac driveway.

Pass smaller car parks on the left and picnic areas, to the left and right. Follow the track and pass through the kissing gate. Follow the track as it curves gradually to the left and then runs clear and straight to a left curve.

Leaving the main path
Leaving the main path

Start point: 51.4348 lat, -1.3406 long
End point: 51.4335 lat, -1.3424 long

As the road curves, there is a stone path on the right with built up trees on the left, take this path and cut through the wooded area. Keep left at the next fork, avoiding the path to your extreme left. Follow the path passing two wooden seats on your left, looking out into the woods of the common.

Snelsmore common back to The Blackbird
Snelsmore common back to The Blackbird

Start point: 51.4335 lat, -1.3424 long
End point: 51.421 lat, -1.3498 long

After the second wooden seat, descend the bank between the bracken (be careful this is a steep slope with loose gravel), cut through the woods to the galvanised gate at the bottom. Follow the path ahead, passing Chestnut and Honey Bottom Cottages on your left. Go straight ahead when the track bends right. Follow the path along the woodland edge until you reach a wooden kissing gate.

Once over the kissing gate you will enter a field fenced on both sides, walk down the slope, through this field. Notice the Buck and Doe bronze statues in the adjoining field on the left. Make for the gate at the end of the field, turning left out of the passage onto the road. Turn left back to The Blackbird.

The blackbird is a very homely pub with a beer garden looking out onto the Village Green. Dogs are allowed both inside the bar area and in the garden. The Blackbird has an extensive and reasonably priced lunch and evening menu. They are open from 12 – 2pm lunchtime and 6-9pm evenings, except Sunday when they do not serve meals in the evening.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2011 by the author DebbieK and may not be reproduced without permission.


7 responses to "Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common"

This is a lovely walk with lots of variety and chances to stop along the way at interesting places such as the castle and nice viewpoints. The pub is friendly and does a good Sunday roast!!

By sherlock21 on 2011-10-14 12:16:36

Great walk be sure and bring a picnic.

By yankeeuk on 2012-08-18 13:49:42

Lovely walk but would do in reverse, beginning is quite noisy over A34 and back ground noise can be off putting though, Snelmore Common is beautiful and to finish off lovely pub lunch, basic but tasty.

By Stuhils on 2013-10-06 17:50:19

great walk and easy going. you can park at the pub but ask first and make sure you have a pint at the end of the walk.

By clubbers10 on 2015-03-31 16:02:56

Great walk and very varied. The pub now has about 20 signs on all fence posts outside saying for patrons only, so as we were not intending to eat there, we decided to start at Snelsmore Common car park(free) and do the walk from waymark 3 and back to there. It worked just as well and Donnington Castle is a good picnic spot.

By Lizanne on 2015-06-03 18:17:52

parked at the pub - chatted with landlord and said we will be in for food after walk. arrived back at 1.30 - no roast dinners left! nice walk tho

By Deborah1 on 2015-11-01 21:18:16

Nice walk but instructions across Snelsmore common need to be looked at. Got horribly lost (even though we re-read them 6 times) and had to retrace our steps to get back. Disappointing.

By Motters on 2015-11-29 14:31:31

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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18 images to "Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common"

-1 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: yankeeuk
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

331_0DebbieK1315474053 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: DebbieK
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Fire tower in Snelsmore Common - A useful landmark as you navigate your way through the heathland.
331_0yankeeuk1345294115 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: yankeeuk
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

331_0clubbers101427881212 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989595 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989604 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989612 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989616 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989621 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989625 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989632 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989638 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989644 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989651 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989656 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989664 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
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331_0clubbers101427989670 Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Walking Guide Image by: clubbers10
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

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