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South Hill Park and Cesar's Camp

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South Hill Park and Cesar's Camp
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 29 Oct 2011 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, Bracknell
Walk Type: Footpaths and Byways
South Hill Park and Cesar's Camp
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 taking in the grounds of South Hill Park arts centre, an elegant red-brick mansion mostly of the Victorian period. It stands within fine gardens and the remnants of its original 800 acre park. The parkland is designated as a Grade II registered park of special historic interest. It provides a valuable habitat with its woodland of birch, oak, sweet chestnut and exotic species, parkland areas with formal lawns, two lakes (which act as balancing ponds) and wetland areas. The walk continues through local residential areas and then into Swinley Forest to Cesar’s Camp Iron Age hillfort. The hillfort was built between 2500 and 2700 years ago and is designated as a scheduled ancient monument.

The walk follows a mixture of parkland paths, pavements and forest tracks with a couple of short but fairly steep ascents and descents in the forest section. Some of the forest tracks will also be muddy after wet weather. There are no stiles but the walk does pass through three kissing gates. Dogs are welcome both in the South Hill Park grounds and in Cesar’s Camp. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

The walk starts from South Hill Park arts centre on Ringmead in Bracknell. There is plenty of free parking at the centre. Approximate post code RG12 7PA.

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Walk Sections

South Hill Park to Birch Hill Shops
South Hill Park to Birch Hill Shops

Start point: 51.3931 lat, -0.7499 long
End point: 51.3919 lat, -0.7532 long

Start the walk from the lawns at the back of South Hill Park arts centre, which are accessed via the large stone terrace with bar tables. Head directly away from the building across the lawns until you come to a lake. Take the left hand path, keeping the lake to your right, until you come to a wooden bridge that crosses the lake. Turn right here and cross the bridge.

Continue straight on along the tarmac path past the children’s play area until you reach the Birch Hill shops. As you come into the shops turn immediately right in front of the post office, then turn left in front of Aldi and up to the Silver Birch public house.

Birch Hill Shops to Quintilis
Birch Hill Shops to Quintilis

Start point: 51.3919 lat, -0.7532 long
End point: 51.3908 lat, -0.7679 long

Turn right to follow the pavement along the main road. After you cross over a pedestrian subway, cross the road towards the bus stop and then follow the path that forks to the right. Almost immediately veer to the left to take a long straight path lined with oak trees, houses and lampposts on both sides signed towards Nutley.

At the end of the path, cross over the road and then turn right to follow the tree lined pavement with the road (Ringmead) to your right. Follow the pavement past a number of side roads and bus stops until you reach the side road on the left called Quintilis.

Quintilis to Cesar’s Camp
Quintilis to Cesar’s Camp

Start point: 51.3908 lat, -0.7679 long
End point: 51.3834 lat, -0.7636 long

Turn left into Quintilis and as the road bends to the left, turn right signed to house numbers 28 to 73 and then turn immediately left down the footpath alongside a wooden fence and water gully.

Follow the path into the small area of woodland with a stream (sometimes dry) on your right. Shortly you will come across a small children’s play area on the left. Continue ahead and as you come to a small crossroads by a sign for Dry Pond Rise, turn left signed Ramblers Route. After a Qualitas sign on the left, turn right through the kissing gate and cross the road (take care as Nine Mile Ride can be busy) and go straight ahead into Swinley Forest.

After only 20 metres fork left and follow this path as it bends round to the right and downhill to meet a small pond (which is very peaty and so not recommended for dogs to swim in!). Follow the path as it bends to the left alongside the pond and then goes up hill ahead. As you reach the junction with a wide stone path turn left.

Follow this path with tall trees on the right, as it bends round to the right and then to the left to meet a wide sandy junction. Continue straight ahead through a small gap in the trees and pass through a kissing gate to enter Cesar’s Camp.

Cesar’s Camp to Nine Mile Ride
Cesar’s Camp to Nine Mile Ride

Start point: 51.3834 lat, -0.7636 long
End point: 51.3874 lat, -0.7585 long

Please note that dogs should be kept on a lead in Cesar’s Camp (this is to protect the ground nesting birds and also the young deer that are trapped by the tall fences while they are small). Cesar’s Camp Iron Age hillfort, which covers an area of 17 acres and is surrounded by a mile-long ditch, is a remarkable piece of engineering having been constructed entirely by hand using basic tools.

Go straight ahead on the path climbing the hill with heather on each side. At the top when you reach the T-junction turn left. You are now at the centre of the hillfort.

The obvious use of a hillfort is as a defensive location, but it is possible that Cesar’s Camp could have been a market place or a religious or political centre. There have been no major excavations at the hillfort, but English Heritage did conduct a geophysical survey in 1995 which sadly revealed very little.

After walking for about 50 metres you will come to a junction, take the left path which enters a wooded area. The path will then veer to the left and then back to the right running through tall conifer trees. Follow the path as it descends through beech, sweet chestnut and birch trees. When you come to the bottom of the descent do not go through the gate, instead turn right along the fence line for a few paces to reach another path. Turn right and follow this path with the fence on your left.

The path will soon bend to the right to enter a cutting with steep sides held back by Western Red Cedar timbers, known as Queen Anne’s Gully. It was cut through the forest in 1708 so that the ageing Queen Anne could follow the Royal Hunt in her carriage. The ride is a designated public right of way and runs from Nine Mile Ride to Cesar’s Camp. George III who also enjoyed riding and hunting extended the network of rides throughout Swinley Forest and Windsor Great Park.

At the brow of the hill on the left you will see large gullies that form the ramparts of the fort now populated by very large beech and oak trees. As the area starts to open up again look for another information board on the left describing how the fort was built. Arriving back at the junction, take a sharp left that leads down a small hill and onwards to a metal gate alongside a kissing gate.

Go through the kissing gate and turn immediately left along a path. You are now heading back to the road so keep dogs and children in hand. You will come to a junction with two paths marked on posts, ignore these and take the path to the right that leads to the road.

Nine Mile Ride to South Hill Park
Nine Mile Ride to South Hill Park

Start point: 51.3874 lat, -0.7585 long
End point: 51.394 lat, -0.7511 long

Cross the road (Nine Mile Ride) with care and turn right along the woodland footpath which runs parallel to the road. You will enter a large open wooded area know as Birch Hill which has given its name to the surrounding residential area of Bracknell. Continue to follow the path as it swings around to the left and then right again. Do not go straight ahead into the housing estate, but follow the fork to the right past some bungalows. Pass the signs for Maddingly and Knightswood. Shortly afterwards, take a left turn by a large oak tree just before a footbridge along a footpath signposted Gormoor Ride.

The path leads away from Nine Mile Ride with houses on the left and large oak trees on the right. Continue to meet a road (Ringmead), cross the road and go ahead along a tarmac path with a school on the left. As you come back to the bridge over the lake on your right, ignore this and go straight ahead along the tarmac path leading to the car park.

You may want to take some more time to explore the arts centre and its grounds. South Hill Park has had many well-known visitors over the years: Pitt, Gladstone (who planted a tree in the park) and Oscar Wilde after whom the new theatre is named. Remember Lady Bracknell?

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4 images to "South Hill Park and Cesar's Camp"

399_01325172028 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by:
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Historic view of South Hill park
399_11325172029 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by:
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Historic view of South Hill park
399_21325172029 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by:
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Historic view of South Hill park 1819
399_0richard1344197153 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970

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