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Lambourn and Eastbury Down

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Lambourn and Eastbury Down
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 03 Nov 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide star1 Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide star1 Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide star1 Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide star1 Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide
Berkshire, West Berkshire
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Lambourn and Eastbury Down
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide boot Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide boot Lambourn and Eastbury Down Walking Guide
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A 7 mile circular walk from the village of Lambourn in West Berkshire. Lambourn is a pretty village nestled alongside a small chalk stream in the Valley of the Racehorse and is well worth exploring before or after your walk. The route takes you on quiet lanes and peaceful tracks to explore the surrounding rolling hills and chalk downs, home only to crop fields and some gallops used for training racehorses. The views across the valley are spectacular, there’s a pretty thatched village along the way and, aside from the odd thunder of hooves, your tranquillity will probably be interrupted only by the song of a skylark!

The route has several long climbs and descents throughout but there is nothing too steep to contend with. The tops of the downs are very exposed and can be very windy so take appropriate clothing. The tracks are generally well made but can be muddy in part throughout the year and can get very sticky in winter, so good boots are a must. There are no stiles on route, just a couple of gates and kissing gates to negotiate. The vast majority of the route follows grass tracks between woodlands and arable fields, with a couple of short stretches on quiet roads. There are no cattle or sheep fields to cross, but you will need to cross the horse gallops once (just wait for a suitable gap if there are horses training) and the walk also crosses one horse paddock towards the end (this can be avoided if you prefer by following a short stretch of road instead). Allow 3.5 hours.

The village of Lambourn is located just north of the M4 (nr Junction 14), between Swindon and Newbury. It lies within Berkshire but is very close to the borders with Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. The walk starts and finishes at the southern end of Mill Lane, near to the junction with Newbury Road (this junction is the site of The Lamb pub, which was closed at the time of writing). There is usually roadside parking available on Mill Lane, but please park with respect for the local residents. Nearest post code RG17 8YP (which takes you further north along Mill Lane).

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Walk Sections

Start to Long Hedge
Start to Long Hedge

Start point: 51.5067 lat, -1.5255 long
End point: 51.5018 lat, -1.519 long

The walk starts from the southern end of Mill Lane. Head south along the right-hand pavement to reach the road junction with Newbury Road, with a grass circle at its centre (and the old Lamb pub on your right). Follow the pavement as it swings right, passing the fire station on your left. Ignore the first footpath on the left (immediately after the fire station), instead continue for 60 metres and then cross over to turn left into the side road, Bodman Close (signed as part of the Lambourn Valley Way). Fork immediately left to join the stone path between fences and hedges.

At the junction within the path go straight ahead, cross over the residential road and continue ahead, passing through a kissing gate to enter the village sports field. (Dogs are welcome to cross the sports field as long as they are on a lead and stay on the path). Continue straight ahead, staying fairly close to the right-hand boundary and joining the tarmac path which passes just to the left of the seating stand and the sports club building.

Continue in the same direction through the parking area and cross the rough meadow ahead via the two single wooden gates (still following the Lambourn Valley Way). You will emerge out to the frontage of a converted barn, join the road here and follow it ahead (taking care of traffic), passing Upper Bockhampton Farmhouse on your left. This is the site of a former medieval village called Bockhampton.

A little further along, follow the lane as it turns left, crossing the River Lambourn. This chalk stream is a tributary of the River Kennet but for this stretch the surface water dries out for some times of the year. At the top of the slope you will come to a junction with the main road. NOTE: This next short stretch follows this road which, whilst a 30mph limit, can be busy so take good care. Turn right (signed to Eastbury), pass a couple of properties and a bus stop on your left and then, immediately after the national speed limit signs, turn left into the side road, Long Hedge.

Long Hedge to Beechdown Crossroads
Long Hedge to Beechdown Crossroads

Start point: 51.5018 lat, -1.519 long
End point: 51.5167 lat, -1.5065 long

Follow this quiet access lane, climbing steadily. Further up, as the tree line on your left ends and just before you draw level with Chipping Lodge on your right, you will be rewarded with glorious views to your left back over Lambourn Valley and Lambourn village with the church tower at its centre. This is a good spot to pause and learn more about the area.

Lambourn is a working village and is famous for its association with the training of the world's finest racehorses. There are more than 1500 horses in training in the Lambourn Valley with more than 50 racing yards, giving the area its nickname of The Valley of the Racehorse. The springy downland turf makes the perfect gallops and the large uninterrupted open spaces create an ideal environment to breed and train horses. Over the years many famous personalities associated with horse racing have lived and worked in Lambourn, including the jockey Lester Piggott and the author Dick Francis. Francis used Lambourn as the setting for several of his crime fiction novels. Many successful racehorses were trained in Lambourn Valley including the Grand National winners Party Politics (1992 winner) and Many Clouds (2015 winner).

Continue following the lane ahead, keeping left at the fork to stay on the tarmac branch. Pass a couple of properties on your left and continue ahead as the lane dwindles to a grass and stone track. Beyond the hedge to your right you may hear the thunder of hooves as horses train on the gallops. When you reach a gate ahead, stay with the main track (signed as a Byway) which turns to the left. Later, the track merges with a tarmac track passing Beechdown Farm on your right. Just a few metres along you will come to a crossroads with a quiet lane.

Beechdown Crossroads to Gallops
Beechdown Crossroads to Gallops

Start point: 51.5167 lat, -1.5065 long
End point: 51.5147 lat, -1.4913 long

Turn right here, signed as another Byway, and follow the quiet lane climbing steadily. Pass Starlight Farm on your left and follow the unmade track ahead (which can get very muddy in part). You will come to a fork in the track with a farm gate ahead. Take the right-hand branch of the track, leading you steadily downhill through Eastbury Down.

Follow this track with a fenced sheep pasture on your left and the rolling chalk downs on your right. The track continues with a belt of woodland on your right, which gives particularly good displays of colour in the autumn months. You will pass a circular clearing within the trees to your right, the site of an ancient earthwork. About 50 metres later you will see a waymarker post on your right. Turn right to join the public footpath, a grass path leading you up through the trees. Mind your step on this stretch as there are several large badger holes along the path.

You will emerge out to a corner of the grass downs, keep straight ahead along the left-hand boundary with scrub and then woodland running on your left. When the trees on your left end, you will reach a set of white railings, marking a section of the horse gallops.

Gallops to Eastbury Village
Gallops to Eastbury Village

Start point: 51.5147 lat, -1.4913 long
End point: 51.4939 lat, -1.5034 long

NOTE: Ensure you look and listen carefully to make sure there are no horses coming before you proceed. Go straight ahead crossing over these gallop tracks and pick up the footpath track at the far side, continuing ahead with a hedgerow on your left. Continue on this sandy track and, where it swings away left, go ahead to join the grass track heading steadily downhill. This section of Eastbury Down with its uninterrupted rolling fields is particularly popular with skylarks, listen out for the distinctive song from overhead.

At the bottom of the slope, go past more white railings, cross a grass horse track and go ahead to join the grass track leading you steeply uphill (staying directly alongside the crop field on your right and the field boundary on your left). NOTE: A little way up the climb you will notice a sunken track running on your left, this is the official right of way but your higher level crop-side grass track is provided to afford less mud and better views! As you reach the brow of the hill, take a moment to glance behind you where you will have incredible far-reaching views. It is unusual in the south-east counties to have such uninterrupted views without a settlement in sight.

Stay with the track which now takes you downhill, leading you back into the Lambourn Valley. Part way down the track dog-legs left and then right and continues downhill between hedgerows. Keep ahead as the grass track turns to stone, passing the entrance for Castle Piece Gallop on your left. After passing a barn on your right you will see a fingerpost marking a crossroads with the Lambourn Valley Way. If you wish to cut the walk short you could turn right here and follow this waymarked path back to Lambourn village. However, for the full walk, keep ahead to reach the T-junction with the main road in Eastbury village (with the stately Montague House on your right).

Eastbury Village to Cleeve Crossroads
Eastbury Village to Cleeve Crossroads

Start point: 51.4939 lat, -1.5034 long
End point: 51.4885 lat, -1.5213 long

Turn left along the road edge for just 15 paces and then cross over to turn right onto the small side road signed as a byway. This leads you back over the River Lambourn alongside the large thatched Old Iron House. Do NOT follow the lane as it swings hard left, instead keep ahead to join the stone track called Corney Street.

The track leads you between a couple of houses before entering a section of woodland. Follow the track as it swings right to reach a waymarker post on your left. Ignore the footpath to the left here, instead continue for a few paces to reach a fork. Take the left-hand branch at this fork (the equivalent of going straight on at this staggered crossroads).

The track climbs between trees and then widens out to a broader grassy stretch with trees on your left and a sparse hedgerow on your right. Part way along, look out for a (partially hidden!) fingerpost on your right. Fork right here, leaving the byway to join a public bridleway, a grass track leading you between fields. Continue over the brow of the rise then ignore the path signed off to the right. Keep ahead on the grass track with a large woodland, Cleeve Wood, running on your left. When this woodland ends you will see metal gates ahead and a fingerpost marking a crossroads of paths.

Cleeve Crossroads to Bockhampton Road
Cleeve Crossroads to Bockhampton Road

Start point: 51.4885 lat, -1.5213 long
End point: 51.5021 lat, -1.5217 long

Turn right and follow this wide unmade track with a tree line on your left and open crop fields on your right. The track leads you steadily uphill passing a smaller woodland, Thornhill Copse, on your left and with superb views on your right once again. When the woodland ends, the track begins to descend with a clear view of Lambourn village in the valley bottom ahead.

Just before you come to the road ahead, you will see a wooden kissing gate on the left (alongside a water pumping station). At this point you have two choices. For the main route (which crosses a horse field) follow the directions in this paragraph. However, if you would prefer to avoid the horses, you can use the road edge instead by skipping to the next paragraph below. Turn left through gate to enter the horse pasture and walk straight ahead on the main grass path. Stay with the path which bears right, staying close to the right-hand boundary. At the far side, go through the kissing gate ahead and join the enclosed grass path which leads you past an electricity sub-station on your left. Go alongside the metal access gate to reach Bockhampton Road.

(To avoid the horse field, walk to the T-junction and turn left along the road’s grass verge – taking care of traffic – and follow this into the village edge. Take the first village road on the left, Bockhampton Road, and follow this back over the river and turning right).

Bockhampton Road to End
Bockhampton Road to End

Start point: 51.5021 lat, -1.5217 long
End point: 51.5069 lat, -1.5256 long

From this point you will be re-tracing your steps back to the start. Go ahead on the lane, passing Upper Bockhampton Farmhouse on your right and then forking right into the entrance yard of the next property. Cross the rough meadow via the two gates and you will emerge into the sports field. Go ahead on the footpath, passing just to the right of the club building and seating stand.

Exit at the far side via the kissing gate and go straight ahead, crossing the residential road. Continue ahead on the stretch of stone footpath and merge with the pavement of Bodman Close to reach a T-junction with the main road. Turn right, passing the fire station, and then turn left into Mill Lane where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 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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