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Beenham and Douai Abbey

There are currently 5 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

Beenham and Douai Abbey
Author: Claire, Published: 01 Aug 2013 Walk Rating:star1 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guidestar1 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guidestar1 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guidestar1 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guidestar0 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide
Berkshire, Newbury
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Beenham and Douai Abbey
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide boot Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular walk from the West Berkshire village of Beenham. The route follows pretty stretches of woodland and arable fields to reach the nearby village of Upper Woolhampton where you’ll have chance to admire the buildings of Douai Abbey, a Benedictine monastery. The walk returns through arable fields, grazing pastures and mixed woodlands where you’ll enjoy a host of wildlife and wild flowers.

The walk has a few gentle inclines and the woodland paths and pastures can be very muddy at certain times of the year so waterproof boots are recommended. There is one section of road walking so take care of traffic at this point and two of the fields are likely to be holding cattle so take care with dogs. There are three stiles to negotiate and all of these have open wooden fence surrounds so should be straightforward for most dogs. Allow 1 to 1.5 hours.

The village of Beenham is located about 7 miles east of Newbury in West Berkshire. It can be accessed from Junction 12 of the M4 along the A4. The walk starts from outside the Six Bells pub on The Green (the western end of Back Lane within the village). If you will be using the pub before or after your walk then there is a gravel car park opposite it, otherwise park on the village streets with consideration for local residents. Approximate post code RG7 5NX.

Walk Sections

Start to Abbey Gardens Entrance
Start to Abbey Gardens Entrance

Start point: 51.4164 lat, -1.1615 long
End point: 51.408 lat, -1.1709 long

Standing on the road facing the Six Bells pub, turn right along the village road (The Green). After just a few yards turn right into Clay Lane and follow this as it bends left. At the small junction keep straight ahead onto the dead end branch signed as a Byway unsuitable for motor vehicles. Immediately after Clay House on the right, turn right onto the enclosed footpath with Clay House to the right and fenced fields to the left.

The village of Beenham has a number of unusual features. Its church still retains the tower from 1794 which has a peal of six bells – hence the name of the village pub. The village is also home to the UK Wolf Conservation Trust. The trust is currently home to 10 wolves (European and Arctic) that are used to educate the public and dispel myths – part of this includes handlers taking the public on walks with the wolves (on leads!) around the farmland within the site. So if you hear howling don’t be surprised!

At the end of the path you’ll reach an area of dense woodland. Walk ahead for a few yards to reach an obvious fork in the path with a wooden waymark post. Take the right hand fork and follow the path through the pretty arches of trees.

As you emerge from the woodland you will reach a four-way signpost. Take the second left, a bridleway between open fields heading directly for the spire of Douai Abbey visible above the trees ahead. The path joins an enclosed section through a small belt of woodland and emerges to a small residential road. Cross the road and take the bridleway which continues opposite. The path emerges to a T-junction with the main road alongside the entrance to Abbey Gardens.

Abbey Gardens Entrance to Copyhold Farm
Abbey Gardens Entrance to Copyhold Farm

Start point: 51.408 lat, -1.1709 long
End point: 51.4161 lat, -1.1758 long

Turn right and then at the road junction turn right again signed to Chapel Row, Bucklebury and Douai Abbey, passing a pretty thatched terrace on the left and the ornate red brick buildings of the large Douai Abbey site on the right.

On the right you’ll pass St Mary’s Catholic Church, which is served by the abbey monks. Further along on the right you’ll pass the main vehicle entrance to the abbey. Take time here to view the main abbey building directly inside the entrance, with its amber stained glass panels and angular roofs topped with a simple spire.

Benedictine monks from the monastery of St. Edmund's, in Douai, (pronounced Dowaai) in northern France, moved to Upper Woolhampton in 1903. The abbey had in its charge Douai School, a catholic school for boys, until this closed in 1999. St Mary’s Church served as the abbey church until 1933 when the first stage of work was completed on the new Douai Abbey. The original full architectural concept (designed by J Arnold Crush) was never completed. Instead the expansion of the abbey has taken place over several decades with the latest design influence coming from a 1988 design from architect Michael Blee. This construction was completed in 1993 and it won an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1994.

Keep straight ahead on the main country lane taking care of any traffic. Ignore the first footpath off to the right (alongside Rosecroft and opposite the barns of Upper Farm). Ignore the second footpath off to the right (over a stile). Continue on the main road to reach the left hand bend. Just beyond this bend you’ll find the third footpath on the right. Take this and follow it as it passes between two large crop fields. At the end of the field, cross the stile ahead to reach the buildings of Copyhold Farm.

Copyhold Farm to End
Copyhold Farm to End

Start point: 51.4161 lat, -1.1758 long
End point: 51.4165 lat, -1.1619 long

Turn left along the track passing the main white farmhouse on the right. A few yards later, where the main track bends left, keep ahead over a stile into a grass pasture. (Note: this field is likely to be holding cattle – it held a single bull when we passed through but he seemed fairly placid).

Walk diagonally at about 1 o’clock heading for the right edge of the houses. Once you’re over the brow of the hill, bear further right heading for the bottom right hand corner of the field. Just before you reach the corner, look out in the right hand fence line for a stile. Cross this and turn immediately right following the field edge with the hedge on the right, climbing the hill that you just descended. (You are going back on yourself but don’t lose heart – this is just to follow the designated footpaths across the farm!).

At the top corner of the field, turn left and continue for just 100 yards to reach a gate on the right which leads you into Greyfield Wood. Keep ahead onto the obvious path, joining a boardwalk across small streams. Continue on the pretty woodland path with a woven hazel fence on the left. In the spring the woodland floor is a blaze of blue with the spread of bluebells.

Keep ahead over two footbridges over streams and a little further along you’ll reach a fork marked with yellow arrows. Bear right and follow the long straight path climbing gradually through the trees. Pass a substation on the left and you will reach a T-junction with a bridleway. Turn left and then follow the track as it bends right. You will emerge to the village road – turn right heading back to the centre of Beenham. At the brow of the slope you will reach the pub where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

5 Comments for: "Beenham and Douai Abbey"

Do note that the pub does not allow dogs inside any where.

By swisstone on 14 Oct 2018

Lovely walk with good directions. By Linda

By mrslcallagha on 14 Sep 2018

I did this walk twice in the spring. I loved the variety of landscapes and buildings. Plenty of interest.

By Perrier on 28 Aug 2017

Did this walk today as a recce for New Years Day with friends. Parked in the car park of the 6 Bells PH. The directions were spot on easy to follow with clearly marked paths. Some of the paths and fields were a little muddy but still passable with ease. Care was needed on the road stretch by the Abbey. The walk took 1 hour and surprise surprise we ended up back at the 6 Bells for lunch. Good selection of drinks and snacks and an open fire. Will do this walk again in the summer to see the Blue Bells. Thanks for the walk Dave & Jackie

By Daijack on 23 Dec 2016

A wet muddy walk, wait till the bluebells come out for the next trip there, and a dry day 😬

By Blackdown247 on 03 Apr 2015

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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Instagram Photos for: "Beenham and Douai Abbey"

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4 Gallery Images for: "Beenham and Douai Abbey"

2373_0clairesharpuk1375334643 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 01 Aug 2013
This is the large church in the grounds of the Abbey. The front is modern but the back looks like part of the original abbey
2373_0clairesharpuk1375334741 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 01 Aug 2013
This taken towards the end of the walk heading across fieds towards Beenham
2373_0Skippy861484664642-1 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide Image by: Skippy86
Uploaded: 17 Jan 2017
2373_0Skippy861484664676-1 Beenham and Douai Abbey Walking Guide Image by: Skippy86
Uploaded: 17 Jan 2017



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