Much of West Berkshire falls within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The AONB also extends into Wiltshire, north Hampshire and south Oxfordshire.
West Berkshire Council owns a number of countryside locations including three country parks, Greenham Common, Snelsmore Common and Thatcham Reed Beds (Thatcham Discovery Centre). These country parks and the nature reserve which the Council owns are managed, under an innovative scheme, by Berks, Bucks, & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).
BBOWT also own and manage a number of nature reserves in addition to those managed for West Berks Council. Many of these areas, particularly Greenham and Snelsmore Commons are excellent locations for walking. A full list of the BBOWT owned and managed sites can be found on their website. The BBOWT site has access details for each of the locations on their list.
Published Walking Routes
There are many publications detailing short routes that can be done in anything from an hour to a day. A range of local walk leaflets have been published by West Berkshire Council, BBOWT and a number of parish councils and other organisations – these leaflets can be downloaded from, and other local walking information found on, the following web pages:
- West Berkshire Tourist Information Centre’s Walking information page and its subsidiary pages
- West Berkshire Council’s Rights of Way information page
- BBOWT’s West Berkshire Living Landscape Project page and the web pages for the individual sites such as Bowdown Woods, Greenham & Crookham Commons and Snelsmore Common.
- Various local parish websites, e.g. www.hamsteadmarshall.net/walks
- The walks page of the West Berkshire Countryside Society website
The National Trust has details of walks - mostly near their properties.
The AA has a Walks and Bike Rides search page which gives access to a number of suggested routes in the area.
Hampshire County Council’s website has a number of walk leaflets available covering places close to the West Berkshire border such as Burghclere, Ecchinswell and Kingsclere.
Popular long-distance walking routes in the area are the Thames Path and the Ridgeway (two National Trails), and the Kennet & Avon Canal towpath. Rail services run in parallel with significant sections of both the Thames Path and the Kennet & Avon Canal towpath, so it is possible to walk these sections in easy stages without retracing your steps or having to devise another route to return on. The Ridgeway has a number of local walking route leaflets available as does the Thames Path. As well as the National Trail site, the Visit Thames site has a number of leaflets available for download.
Two Hampshire long distance paths, the Test Way (Inkpen Beacon to Totton, Southampton) and the Wayfarers Walk (Inkpen Beacon to Emsworth near Portsmouth) meet just within West Berkshire. BBC Berkshire has published a 90 mile route from Lambourn to Windsor called The Berkshire Way, and we have published a route of our own, the Chairman’s Walk, a 95 mile walk around the perimeter of West Berkshire.
Locally there is the 20-mile Lambourn Valley Way – this is accessible using the Newbury to Lambourn bus service (Kennections service 4) and can be covered in several stages if desired. The start of the walk at White Horse Hill is a 1.5 mile walk along The Ridgeway from the Lambourn - Swindon (West Berkshire Council Transport Services service 47) bus route. Details of public transport services can be found at the Traveline website.
The Ridgeway crosses the River Thames and leaves West Berkshire at Goring to go into the Chilterns AONB – The Chiltern Society has a wide range of circular walk leaflets available, some of which cover locations close to West Berkshire.