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Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas

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Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas
Author: Ecoworrier, Published: 27 Jun 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknellstar0 Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknellstar0 Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknellstar0 Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknellstar0 Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknell
Berkshire, Bracknell
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknell boot Popes, Peacocks and Panoramas  - walk in Bracknell
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This interesting and varied 5 mile circular walk visits some of the less known green bits of north-west Bracknell in Berkshire, including meadows, bluebell woods, copses, and tree-lined paths. It also explores some local history and takes the walker to some surprising viewpoints. It was inspired by a challenge from Binfield Parish Council to connect up a series of paths, and a walk published in the 1970s by local historian and walker, Robin Mosses.

Despite the fact that you are walking on the outskirts of Bracknell, bits of this walk can be challenging and you should dress accordingly. The walk has a few kissing gates and at least one V-shaped chain-gate. You will need to follow a few sections alongside roads, including a brief section of a dual carriageway slip-road, and there are several road crossings that need particular care. A few bits of path can get overgrown in summer and some sections of the route get muddy in winter. There are two stiles on the route, but at the time of writing you could walk around the sides of both of them. Allow 2.5 hours.

The walk starts at Pope’s Meadow car park. Approximate post code RG42 4BB and OS Ref 845699. The car park is on the west side of St Mark’s Road, just to the north of its junction with London Road. There are regular buses between Bracknell town centre and this junction.

Walk Sections

Start to Piglittle Field
Start to Piglittle Field

Start point: 51.4223 lat, -0.7868 long
End point: 51.416 lat, -0.7974 long

Pope’s Meadow is named after the poet Alexander Pope, who was Binfield’s most famous resident. He spent part of his childhood at nearby Whitehill House, in the early 1700s. Whitehill House was subsequently sold and its next owner, William Reynolds, turned it into Popes Manor and created the landscaped park that has subsequently become Pope’s Meadow. At the time of writing, Bracknell Forest Council was working hard to make Pope’s Meadow even more attractive to visitors and nature, with a new playground, additional gravel paths and plenty of new wildlife habitat.

From the south-west corner of the car park (by the Bracknell Forest Council noticeboard), follow the gravel track downhill, passing to the right of a small play area. Continue to follow this track as it turns left to pass to the left of a pond. When you reach a T-junction of paths, turn right to keep the pond on your right. Continue to follow the gravel path as it bends first right and then left to leave the pond behind and head downhill through the park. The copse at the centre of the park is home to tawny owls and several species of bats. After passing a bench on your left, the path turns right. A short distance later turn left, again on a gravel path, to leave the park through a kissing gate and join Murrell Hill Lane.

Turn left along Murrell Hill Lane, and after just a short distance turn right down a footpath, just before Palm Cottage. (There is a footpath sign on the left side of Murrell Hill Lane, but this can get obscured by vegetation). Follow this tree-lined lane past two ponds. When it ends, turn left to follow the marked path between a hedge and a wooden fence. The field on the right contains a permissive path into Pockets Copse, which we are going to ignore, but can be used if the footpath gets overgrown or too muddy. Follow the path with the hedge on your left and field on your right. The path crosses some wooden boards and passes through a chain gate to the left of two gates into the field. The hedge on the left opens up to give you a view into the landscaped garden of the Nike family. This garden used to have a small golf course, and has a collection of sculptures. Keeping the garden’s wooden fence on the left, the path passes between the corners of Pockets and Blackmans copses. These are both great for bluebells in spring. Ignore the wooden gate and permissive path into Pockets Copse (unless you want to see the bluebells) to turn left through a metal gate into the Amen Corner development.

Our path passes just to the right of the houses in front of you and rises towards the prominent oak tree on the horizon. This section of the walk is currently under development with new housing and so, if in doubt about the route, look for the Wokingham Way signs, yellow footpath arrows containing the Rambler’s Association icon. The Wokingham Way is a 55 ¾ mile circuit of the parish of Wokingham from the River Thames in the north to the River Blackwater in the south.

When you reach the oak tree you will find a noticeboard telling you all about Piglittle Field and Copse and the wildlife that can be found there.

Piglittle Field to Portacabin
Piglittle Field to Portacabin

Start point: 51.416 lat, -0.7974 long
End point: 51.4107 lat, -0.793 long

Go through the wooden kissing gate to the left of the noticeboard, passing to the left of the oak tree. Our route follows the fence and newly planted hedge on the left down into Piglittle Field and then up again to a wooden gate which you should be able to see on the skyline ahead of you. (As this field was being landscaped at the time of writing, you may need to be a bit creative about how you reach the gate). Piglittle Field was a riot of wildflowers, butterflies and other insects when I researched this walk. When you reach the gate in the hedgerow on the other side of the field, turn round and look to your left. Despite the noise of the A329(M) from behind you, the view north from this point is stunning. You are looking across a patchwork of fields, hedges and copses towards the Thames Valley and the Chilterns in the distance. This is one of my favourite local views, and is enhanced by the landscaping of Piglittle Field.

Pass through the gate and turn left down a fenced path between hedges with the A329(M) glimpsed to your right. At the bottom of the path you pop out onto the Coppid Beech roundabout underneath the A329(M). Our route here is straight ahead, carefully crossing the London Road (the dual-carriageway joining the roundabout from your left), and then going a short distance up the left-hand verge of the slip-road heading up to the A329(M) (the Berkshire Way). Once on the slip-road verge, immediately after the first streetlight, look out for a flight of wooden steps up to your left. Ascend these, passing an old stile at the top, and turn right along a tree-lined path.

(If you don’t fancy walking up the A329M slip-road, you can walk a quarter of a mile up the London Road until you see a bus-stop on the far side. Cross the dual carriageway carefully here and then climb a short section of path up to the old route of the London Road. Turn right down this, and at the end turn left along a muddy path to pass the steps and stile mentioned above).

Follow the path initially following a tall fence on your left and then passing between the concrete fence posts, ignoring a path to your left, to continue in the same direction, now following a barbed wire fence and hedgerow on your right. A small field, usually containing horses is the other side of the fence on your right. At the end of the field you reach a path crossroads. Apparently there is a boundary stone here, but I have yet to find it! Our route here takes the right branch passing between a portacabin and a fence made of wooden sheets.

Portacabin to Beehive Road
Portacabin to Beehive Road

Start point: 51.4107 lat, -0.793 long
End point: 51.4102 lat, -0.7807 long

The next section of path can get overgrown and muddy, so take care. Go down the enclosed path to the left of the portacabin, passing between the pony field on the right and the farmyard on the left. Beyond the field and yard, the path opens up to pass through a chain-link fence at an old stile (which you don’t need to climb). The path turns left and climbs, becoming a tarmac path running alongside the A329(M) to cross the Reading to Waterloo railway line. Continue to follow the tarmac path which now descends between the railway and the road before turning right to pass through a tunnel under the road.

You emerge from the tunnel to pass through a kissing gate into Peacock Meadow, noting that we have re-joined the Wokingham Way. You pass through a break in the hedge into the meadow. This is another example of how a former farmer's field can be managed for people and nature with mown paths for dog-walkers and plenty of wildflowers for butterflies. The main footpath goes straight across this field, slightly to your left to reach a kissing gate on the far side. The main path is marked by triangular red FP16 signs on poles. When you reach the far side, go through the kissing gate and carefully cross Peacock Lane and then turn left, leaving the Wokingham Way, to use the footpath and cycle path that runs parallel to Peacock Lane.

Cross Sparrowhawk Way and later Osprey Avenue to stay on the path running parallel to Peacock Lane. Most of the roads in this new estate are named after birds, and many of the street signs have a picture of the bird and a QR code. If your phone is able to scan the QR code, it will take you to the relevant page of the RSPB’s website that tells you about that species. The bird names chosen for the estate are a fascinating combination of birds that you can still see or hear in the area today (skylark and goldfinch), birds that a keen birder might spot flying over once or twice a year (osprey), and birds that you will never see in Bracknell except on a street sign (Ptarmigan and Black Grouse).

Shortly after you have crossed Osprey Avenue, you pass Grouse Meadows on you right and reach a pedestrian crossing on your left. Cross Peacock Lane here and turn right to reach Butler Drive. (If you need refreshment, you can turn left after the pedestrian crossing to visit the Peacock Farm pub).

Beehive Road to Milbanke Way
Beehive Road to Milbanke Way

Start point: 51.4102 lat, -0.7807 long
End point: 51.4166 lat, -0.768 long

Turn left and follow the left-hand pavement of Butler Drive, passing (and ignoring) a footpath marked Beehive Road. This is one of the old lanes that connected the villages before this became a built-up area. Beehive Road has now been cut-off by the A329 and the railway line. Our route follows Butler Drive to its T-junction with Bunce View, and then continues straight ahead along a path to enter Wykery Copse between carved wooden seats. Follow the wooden boardwalk through the copse. Wykery Copse is a real hidden gem. It was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1984 and contains more than a dozen species of tree, including the Wild Service Tree, a rare species that Bracknell Forest Council are trying to conserve. The copse is also good for bluebells and is a haven of tranquility considering what lies around you.

When you leave the copse look right. The keen-eyed might be able to see a Peregrine Falcon that uses the Fujitsu building as its viewpoint. Cross Butler Drive and take the short gravel path ahead to reach Langton Lane, another of the old lanes. Turn left down this tree-lined path and follow it to its end. Turn right at the end and descend a short flight of steps to reach Doncastle Road, one of the access roads to the Southern Industrial Estate. Turn right and walk along the grass verge before crossing the road just before a roundabout. Walk down the left-hand side of the section of Doncastle Road, heading east and passing Waitrose warehouses.

Immediately after Gate 5 and before the multi-storey car park for Waitrose staff, turn left down a tarmac footpath and cycle-path which passes under the A329 and railway. (If you want to visit another copse, before you turn down the cycle path, look across the road to your right. This small copse in the middle of the industrial estate is much-loved by Waitrose staff and contains a number of trees planted as memorials to former Waitrose partners). Back at the tarmac footpath and cycle-path, once you have passed under the railway line, and where the cycle-path runs right, turn left down a narrow tree-lined path.

I love this little tree-lined path, if you ignore the glimpses of railway embankment and industrial estate, you could be walking through any area of woodland in southern England. After a while, the path turns sharp right and brings you to the Longshot Lane Industrial Area, opposite the civic amenity site (a.k.a Bracknell Tip). Follow the pavement along the right-hand side of Longshot Lane, cross Downmill Road, and walk along a tree-lined tarmac path running parallel to Longshot Lane to emerge on Western Road. Turn right and walk along the near pavement, passing Greggs (a useful spot to re-fuel if you don’t fancy stopping at a pub). Shortly after Greggs, cross Western Road to walk down Milbanke Way. (There is a pedestrian crossing just after Milbanke Way if Western Road is busy).

Milbanke Way to Jocks Lane
Milbanke Way to Jocks Lane

Start point: 51.4166 lat, -0.768 long
End point: 51.4248 lat, -0.7662 long

Walk down Milbanke Way. When the road ends, continue ahead along the tarmac footpath and cycle-path to pass under the Wokingham Road and The Bridge pub. The Bridge has been a pub for more than a 150 years, and was built as part of the first phase of development when the railway came to Bracknell. Originally, everything around you would have been heathland and you would have to take precautions to avoid highwaymen and other undesirables. There are tales that link this area with Dick Turpin, but historians think it unlikely that he was ever in this area.

After the underpass, the path rises to join Fanes Close. Turn left and at the end of the Close cross Lindenhill Road. Continue straight ahead using the path to cross the grassy area. Cross Priestwood Avenue and join the footpath that is sign-posted as Brook Close. This footpath leads into Queensway, an open grassy area with a number of big old trees standing guard. Queensway was opened in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and was built over the River Cut. Priestwood, the area that we are now in, was one of the first areas developed when Bracknell was designated as a new town after the Second World War. Meadowvale, the school on your left, was the first school in the new town, opened in 1954.

At the end of Queensway, cross Moordale Avenue and continue straight ahead along a tarmac path to cross Englemere Road and eventually reach Jocks Lane opposite the Jocks Lane recreation area. The recreation area has public toilets and a small cafe.

Jocks Lane to End
Jocks Lane to End

Start point: 51.4248 lat, -0.7662 long
End point: 51.4222 lat, -0.7867 long

Turn left to walk up Jocks Lane. Large trees line this quiet lane, which tells you that the lane was here before the housing developments either side (Priestwood on your left and Temple Park on your right). Jocks Lane is reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of Colonel John Walsh and his mistress Rachel. The former is supposed to be chasing the latter, which is odd as Rachel took her own life when the unmarried Colonel took another mistress.

As you approach the top (west) end of Jocks Lane, turn right down a cycle-path with wooden fences either side. (This path is opposite the entrance to the car park for the two blocks of flats.) At the end of the path, turn left down Hitherhooks Hill. Where the road bends left, cross the road into the turning area and go through the gap in the hedge to the right of the turning area to join Temple Way. Walk up Temple Way and cross it using the traffic island just after Wood Lane. Go a short distance down the left-hand side of Wood Lane and then turn left up a tarmac path. At the top of the path, turn right to walk along Popeswood Road.

After you have passed the recently renovated Popeswood Manor, you should be able to glimpse Pope’s Wood through the hedge to your right. This is where the poet is said to have sat and written when he lived nearby. A bit further along Popeswood Road there is a bench and viewpoint and you can see why Alexander Pope liked this spot as you can see across the Thames Valley and up to the Chilterns. After Popeswood Road turns right, and just after the first house on your right, there is a gap in the wooden fence on the opposite side of the road marked by a red-ringed post. Take this path to walk through into Parkham Mead. Walk through this close passing to the right of a lovely old brick building, and admiring some of the patterns in the brickwork. Binfield was famous for its brickworks and William Reynolds, who we met earlier, made his fortune from the brickworks, and spent some of that fortune landscaping Pope’s Meadow which is on the opposite side of St Marks Road from you now. Cross the road to return to the car park where you started.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author mikecoker 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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