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Wantage and Letcombe Regis

There are currently 4 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

Wantage and Letcombe Regis
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 28 Aug 2015 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
Oxfordshire, Wantage
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Wantage and Letcombe Regis
Length: 6 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 6 mile circular walk from the market town of Wantage in Oxfordshire. The walk follows an ancient path out to the nearby village of Letcombe Regis, famous for its links to horse racing, then heads north along bridleways before returning to Wantage along the disused Berks and Wilts Canal. There is plenty of historical interest, pretty settlements as well as lots of wildlife to enjoy as you make your way through this part of the North Wessex Downs.

The walk has a few gentle gradients throughout. The paths are mainly surfaced footpaths and old track byways. There are no gates or steps on route, just one single stile to negotiate (which has an adjacent dog gate). The byways between Letcombe Regis and the canal are heavy clay, are deeply rutted with vehicle tracks and can be muddy all year round (so boots are required and wellingtons with grips are recommended in the wetter months). There are public toilets in the car park at the start of the walk. Approximate time 3 hours.

Wantage is located about 14 miles south-west of Oxford in the Vale of the White Horse, at the junction between the A417 and the A338. The walk starts and finishes at the long stay Portway pay and display car park near the centre of town, which costs £1.30 for 3 hours and is free on Sundays (correct August 2015). Approximate post code OX12 9BU.

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Walk Sections

Start to Letcombe Regis Church
Start to Letcombe Regis Church

Start point: 51.587 lat, -1.4276 long
End point: 51.5758 lat, -1.4521 long

Leave the car park via the vehicle entrance alongside The Beacon and turn right along the pavement of The Portway. After about 50 yards, use the pedestrian crossing to swap to the left-hand pavement and continue, passing the old priory on the right. Cross over the side road and continue along the pavement. Where the left-hand pavement ends, turn left to join the signed public footpath to Letcombe Regis. Follow this surfaced path between hedgerows and soon it crosses a small stream, Letcombe Brook.

Letcombe Brook is a 7.5 mile long stream which rises at the foot of the Berkshire Downs and feeds the River Ock, a tributary of the Thames. The brook is a chalk stream, an important habitat that supports a rich diversity of wildlife including water voles.

The path leads you on to reach a tile-clad cottage on the left. Bear right here and follow the stone path past an allotment site on your right. The path now swings left and continues for another half mile. Take time to look out for wildlife in the pretty hedgerows and in the chalk streams along the way. For the next stretch the path continues between crop fields and eventually you will emerge to the edge of a residential road within the village of Letcombe Regis.

Keep directly ahead to reach a crossroads. Cross over with care and go straight ahead on the road signed to the church. Follow the road as it swings left, passing through the centre of the village with its beautiful old cottages (including the 1698 thatched black and white cottage, The Old House). Swap to the right-hand pavement at this point and a few paces later you will reach the crossroads alongside Letcombe Regis Church.

Letcombe Regis Church to B4507
Letcombe Regis Church to B4507

Start point: 51.5758 lat, -1.4521 long
End point: 51.5851 lat, -1.4535 long

This medieval church sits at the centre of the village, with part of the tower dating from the 12th century and fragments of stained glass from the 14th. An obelisk in the churchyard stands as a memorial to a Maori chief from New Zealand, George King Hipango, who at the age of nineteen died at the vicarage, possibly of tuberculosis.

Turn right at this crossroads and follow the pavement with the church across to the left and passing the old school, also on the left. Where the main lane swings left, keep directly ahead on the access lane signed as a byway. A few paces along, keep ahead again to join a grass and stone track. Stay with this grass track as it swings right and then left to climb steadily up the hill.

Across to the right you will see a large complex of horse paddocks, a sure sign of the area’s links to horse racing. The neighbouring village, Letcombe Bassett, has produced a number of Grand National winners including Ben Nevis and Last Suspect.

At the top of the slope you will come to a crossroads of tracks within a small section of woodland. Turn right here and follow this track, which is rutted from vehicle tracks and can be very muddy, all the way to its end (where it meets a T-junction with a quiet lane). Turn left, heading uphill along the edge of the road and taking care of any traffic. At the top you will come to a junction with the B4507.

B4507 to Old Canal Bridge
B4507 to Old Canal Bridge

Start point: 51.5851 lat, -1.4535 long
End point: 51.5929 lat, -1.4596 long

Cross over with care and take the stone track directly ahead, signed as a byway. A few paces along (before you enter the tunnel of trees) magnificent views open up ahead across the Oxfordshire countryside. Continue into the tunnel of trees and follow the path which leads you gently downhill to reach a crossroads with a quiet tarmac lane.

Go directly ahead on the byway path which continues downhill. This ancient byway is called Cornhill Lane and would once have been a busy thoroughfare. Keep ahead on the path for some distance, passing between fenced fields and pastures. Ignore the first stile on the right, simply keep ahead and eventually the path will lead you over a bridge, crossing the course of the old Wilts and Berks Canal.

Old Canal Bridge to Denchworth Road
Old Canal Bridge to Denchworth Road

Start point: 51.5929 lat, -1.4596 long
End point: 51.5991 lat, -1.4328 long

Immediately after the bridge, turn right to join the canal’s former towpath, with the overgrown canal basin running on your right.

The Wilts and Berks Canal was opened in 1810 to link the Kennet and Avon Canal (near Melksham, Wiltshire) to the River Thames (at Abingdon). The main canal was 52 miles long but there were also several side branches that connected the canal to the towns of Chippenham, Calne, Wantage and Longcot. The canal was abandoned in 1914 and quickly fell into disrepair. Work is underway to restore some sections for recreational use.

Further along, the path continues with fenced properties each side and leads you to the road in East Challow. Cross over with care and take the track directly ahead, signed as a footpath to Wantage. Continue past the new housing development on the left and then look out for a waymarker yellow arrow which directs you to fork right to join a narrower tree-lined path. Once again the derelict canal basin is running on your right.

Eventually the canal basin disappears again and you will come to a crossroads with a tarmac track. (NOTE: At this point you may need to follow a diversion in order to avoid the construction work for a new housing estate, so please follow one of the two options below, whichever is available to you).

OPTION 1 MAIN ROUTE: Go straight ahead into the field opposite and follow the path along the right-hand edge of the field. The tree-line on the right now conceals the continuing line of the canal. Stay with the tree line as it swings right and at the far end of the field you will emerge out via a stile to reach a junction with Denchworth Road.

OPTION 2 CONSTRUCTION DIVERSION: Turn left and follow the path which follows the line of the field on your right. At the road, turn right and follow the path to reach the roundabout with the aeroplane statue. Your route continues straight ahead, into Mably Way.

Denchworth Road to Smith's Wharf Play Area
Denchworth Road to Smith's Wharf Play Area

Start point: 51.5991 lat, -1.4328 long
End point: 51.5922 lat, -1.4278 long

Cross over the road with care and turn left along the pavement, heading for the roundabout. Follow the pavement as it swings right into Mably Way. Ignore the first footpath on the right and, immediately after the large road sign, turn right onto the second footpath.

Follow this pretty surfaced path winding through the Belmont Estate. Keep straight ahead at all the junctions and cross straight over the residential side roads as you meet them. Each time you will find the tarmac footpath continuing opposite. Eventually you will reach a fenced play area on your left, Smith’s Wharf Play Area.

Smith's Wharf Play Area to End
Smith's Wharf Play Area to End

Start point: 51.5922 lat, -1.4278 long
End point: 51.5871 lat, -1.4276 long

Keep straight ahead past the play area and, soon afterwards, you will come to a junction within the path. Go straight along the main branch of path which bends left, ignoring the path through the staggered barrier on the right. You will emerge out to the road alongside King’s Wharf. Cross over and take the path which leads you diagonally right through the small park.

This park was once the site of the wharf within Wantage, where the Wantage Branch of the Wilts and Berks Canal terminated. If you look at the surrounding buildings you will be able to see the tell-tale signs of the old wharf industries. Agricultural products, coal, timber, iron and stone were transported and traded along the canal. Flour ground by the mills here was transported to other parts of the country.

At the far side of the park, turn left along the pavement (Mill Street), crossing over Letcombe Brook once again. Just before the top of the hill, use the pedestrian crossing to swap to the right-hand pavement. Continue up the start of the Market Place. Wantage is perhaps most famous for being the birth place of King Alfred the Great and a statue in the Market Place commemorates this fact.

Do NOT walk through the Market Place, instead follow the pavement swinging right and right again (signed to the Museum and Tourist Information Centre). Take the one-way street heading directly for the church and, immediately before the church, turn left along Church Street. At the T-junction, cross over and turn left along the pavement. Before the end of the road, you will come to the side entrance for Portway car park on the right, where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


4 responses to "Wantage and Letcombe Regis"

We did this walk and it was lovely! Had a bit of a head scratch when we got to the muddy crossroads as it didn't say which way to turn! Fortunately we picked the right direction and it was very muddy but plenty of places to dodge the mud. Had a thoroughly enjoyable time and rewarded ourselves with an ice cream when we got into Wantage.

ADMIN RESPONSE: So pleased you enjoyed the walk and very sorry about the missing word 'right' in the directions. We've corrected that now, thanks for pointing it out.

By Kleoette on 2015-09-11 14:20:41

I did this walk today the 17th Jan of 2016.. Really enjoyable walk with lots of great views.
By Grove Technology center towards the end of the walk. I had to do a slight detour, because the footpath was closed due to new houseing being built, I don't know whether the footpath will be open again, there isn't any diversion route, but you can follow another path to the left of the field which eventually brings you around to the aeroplane statue.

Quote: Eventually the canal basin disappears again and you will come to a crossroads with a tarmac track. Go straight ahead into the field opposite and follow the path along the right-hand edge of the field. The tree-line on the right now conceals the continuing line of the canal. Stay with the tree line as it swings right and at the far end of the field you will emerge out via a stile to reach a junction with Denchworth Road.

Where it says Go straight ahead into the field opposite, this where you need to turn left and follow another footpath around the field..

Hope this helps

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you for providing this update. We have added the details of the diversion to the main walking route so that future walkers will be able to find their way round.

By jon4354 on 2016-01-17 18:30:17

Did this walk today 18.08.2016, very good walk with lots of decent views. No problems with mud given the excessively dry weather but I can see why it may be very muddy in winter / wet weather. Decent terrain throughout with some good paths, good for dogs too just need a lead for the short road bits. Finished it with a nice cider at a pub in Wantage, recommend it to anyone.

By Pete78 on 2016-08-18 19:17:38

Peter Garrett: Did the Wantage and Letcombe Regis walk today, lovely 6 miles and Jess dog loved it. Thanks to all who have worked on this app, it's great.

By Facebook on 2016-08-27 12:44:00

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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2 images to "Wantage and Letcombe Regis"

4964_0Richard1440743791 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Letcombe Regis - The Old House. (I wonder if it was called this when it was built in 1698?).
4964_1Richard1440743791 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Just a picture of the church that you pass by.

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