List of walks in date order, with links
Date Walk Distance
09 March 2012 A circular walk from Kintbury by way of Walbury Hill 21.3 km (13.3 miles)
13 November 2010 Wargrave to Marlow by way of Ashley Hill 16.2 km (10.1 miles)
Plan Completing the ascent of the Marilyns and HuMPs in Region 42 -

The plan for completing the ascent of the Marilyns and HuMPs in Region 42

The South of London as a region page of this site started life as some notes to support of the choice of boundaries for the region covered by - essentially, an argument against the boundaries chosen by Alan Dawson for Region 42 in his book The Relative Hills of Britain.

Alan Dawson's Region 42 is defined as:

Reading; River Thames to London; coast to the Dorset border; county boundaries to the Kennet & Avon Canal near Hungerford; Kennet & Avon Canal to Reading. This area includes the counties of Hampshire, Surrey, Kent, West Sussex, East Sussex, and the Isle of Wight, together with those parts of Berkshire south of the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Thames, and London south of the River Thames.

I don't think Alan Dawson was particularly interested in Southern England, and the boundaries of his Region 42 don't make complete topographical sense. I have therefore not adopted them for the purposes of this website.

Although I have ascended all the Marilyns and HuMPs within the boundaries of the region covered by this site, I would still like to complete the ascent of all the Marilyns and HuMPs in Region 42.

Marilyns and HuMPs in Region 42, but outside region covered by this site
Height (m) Name Grid Ref Marilyn ? Ascended
297 Walbury Hill SU373616 Yes 09 March 2012
241 St Boniface Down SZ567785 Yes 12 June 2009
237 St Catherine's Hill SZ493772 No 13 June 2009
214 Brighstone Down SZ432847 Yes No
147 Tennyson Down SZ324853 No No
144 Ashley Hill SU824811 No 13 November 2010
135 Arreton Down SZ547872 No No
104 Bembridge Down SZ624860 No 11 June 2009

Six of the hills are on the Isle of Wight, and two are on the mainland (Walbury Hill and Ashley Hill). I'd already walked three of the Isle of Wight hills - St Boniface Down, St Catherine's Hill and Bembridge Down, during a long weekend on the island in June.

I therefore had five more hills to climb when I started this project.


13 November 2010: Wargrave to Marlow by way of Ashley Hill

16.2 km (10.1 miles)

Hannen family columbarium, Wargrave churchyard

Having just completed walking the River Arun (I have yet to log the walk), I was wondering which project to tackle next. Feeling like a change of scenery, I decided to make a start on completing the ascent (if ascent is not to grand a word for southern hills) of the Marilyns and HuMPs in Alan Dawson's Region 42.

The Isle of Wight hills will have to wait for summer, but Ashley Hill looked as if it would make a good, short, winter walk.

Route No 4
Route No 4 of the National Cycle Network

I took the train to Wargrave (on a single track branch line from Twyford). From the station I followed Station Road to the High Street, stopping to look at the church. The church is approached by way of an attractive green, which has a curiously flattened hexagonal section war memorial. The church was closed (for restoration of the organ).

Finger post
Finger post, approaching Bowsey Hill, with new Berkshire Loop sign

The churchyard contains a strikingly designed mausoleum in one corner. A search of the web revealed that it was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1906-7 and it is strictly a columbarium, a vault with niches for urns containing ashes. It was built for the Hannen family, who were in the in the building industry. The abstract of an article from Apollo (01 April 2005, by Oliver Bradbury) says 'This small masterpiece shows Lutyens combining byzantine, classical and Arts and Crafts influences'.

Fungus, in woods approaching Warren Row

I walked through Wargrave, a rather dull, but prosperous, commuter village by following Route No 4 of the National Cycle Network, on the grounds that it was likely to be the quietest route.

From the north edge of Wargrave I headed north-east, taking the most direct route to the summit of Ashley Hill. On Bowsey Hill I started seeing brand new waymarks for the 'Chiltern Way (Berkshire Loop)'. This turns out to be a new extension of the Chiltern Way, launched in October 2010. The Chiltern Way is promoted by the Chiltern Society. It's another millennium project.

Gates of 'Clifton', on summit of Ashley Hill

Not knowing what route it took, I didn't follow the Berkshire Loop the whole way. With hindsight, it probably took a better route than I did, though more indirect and therefore slightly longer. It also passes close to the Dew Drop Inn, which looks promising.

Hall Place
Hall Place

The walk from Wargrave to Ashley hill was very pleasant, often through woodland (mainly beech). However, the summit was a disappointment. The map shows it to be occupied by 'Keepers Cottage'. It is actually occupied by a very large, very ugly, red brick house called Clifton.

Rheas, Berkshire College of Agriculture

I could find no sign of the trig point that should be on the summit. The invaluable TrigpointingUK reports that it is located in the garden of the house, turned into a monument by the addition of a large stone ball on top. The last two reports give the condition as 'Couldn't find it', so I wonder if it's been demolished. The first report, from 1981 describes it as 'White pillar in grass and snowdrops on Forestry Commission land near abandoned house'. Clearly much has changed.

View over Thames Valley from High Wood

From Ashley Hill I followed the Berkshire Loop to Burchett's Green, hoping to find a bench on the green, on which to have my sandwiches. The citizens of Burchett's Green clearly don't want to encourage such behaviour, and there was no bench. I was tempted to try the Crown Inn, but I was running short on time, so gave it a miss.

Bridge approaching Temple Lock

From Burchett's Green I took the path to Hurley (on the Thames) by way of Hall Place, built in 1728 by William East, a wealthy London lawyer and now occupied by the Berkshire College of Agriculture. The site proved to be full of interest, containing amongst other curiosities a miniature zoo.

From Hall place I took the path northwards that climbs to High Wood and then drops steeply down to Hurley Bottom and then Hurley.

View across Thames to church at Stoney Ware

I'd have liked more time in Hurley, but short winter days don't give much opportunity for exploring. Hurley was the site of a Benedictine priory founded in 1086. Ye Olde Bell is reputedly the oldest, still working, inn in Britain. It claims to date from 1135.

At Hurley, I was planning to join the Thames Path to reach Marlow, so I was worried by signs saying the path along Hurley Lock was closed. As it was, it proved to be the best thought-out diversion I've seen for some time. The contractors working on the lock had put down a temporary surface of plastic tiles over the grass to make a route round the back of the lock, causing no inconvenience to the walker.

View along Thames to Marlow

The walk along the Thames Path from Hurley to Marlow was straightforward, but rather muddy and slippery. Just before Temple Lock, the path crosses the river by way of a fine timber laminate bridge. There are pleasant views across the river to Bisham Abbey and the church at Stoney Ware, and then up the river to Marlow with its church and bridge.

Birds on the Thames at Marlow

A little further on, children were feeding the birds - an excitable mass of gulls, ducks and swans.

Approaching Marlow I was stopped by the proud owner of a very small inflatable dingy who asked me to take some photographs of him in the dingy with Marlow as a backdrop. His camera turned out to be a very large and expensive looking Nikon SLR. I naturally took the photos in portrait format to get the church in, but he then insisted on another set in landscape format. I like the speed of an SLR, but not the size and weight.

In Marlow I cleaned the mud off my boots as best I could, then took a short stroll up the High Street (very pleasant) before heading to the station for my train. Another single line branch, this time to Maidenhead. The sunset as I waited for a connection at Maidenhead Station was spectacularly pink, yellow and purple.

A surprisingly good and interesting walk, with much to see, that I'd recommend for summer, with time to look at things properly and stop for a pint. But take the Berkshire Loop route to Ashley Hill, rather than my route.

Berkshire Loop map
Chiltern Way (Berkshire Loop) - map around Ashley Hill



09 March 2012: A circular walk from Kintbury by way of Walbury Hill

21.3 km (13.3 miles)

Trig point
Trig point overlooking Kintbury (SU 387 659)

I'd taken a day off work, and decided that it was time I undertook a long planned (and long postponed) walk to visit Walbury Hill. This would leave only three hills in the Isle of Wight to complete the ascent of all the Marilyns and HuMPs in Region 42. I therefore took the train to Kintbury, which is a pretty and wealthy looking red brick village.

View eastwards
View along Downs, looking eastwards towards Pilot Hill

From the station, I followed the road over the Kennet and Avon Canal, then turned west along an alleyway to reach the church. From the church I took the road southwards, to reach a path over a small hill leading to Forbury Lane, passing a very large, rather dull, modern house called Godfreys. I diverted to visit the trig point on the top of the hill, a little off the path, on the edge of a field overlooking Kintbury.

Trig Point
Trig point on Walbury Hill

From Forbury Lane I took a slightly convoluted route via Hell Corner, West Woodhay Church and Highwood Farm to reach the ridge of the Downs, at a point just over the West Berkshire border, into Hampshire. The climb up to the ridge followed a bridleway waymarked 'BHS Long Distance Route - Three Downs'.

Track on Walbury Hill
Track heading north from trig point on Walbury Hill

I then followed the trackway along the ridge, part of the Wayfarer's Walk. The views from the ridge are spectacular. The track runs a little north of the summit of Walbury Hill, but it was easy to hop over a farm gate to follow an ancient-looking track through a field of sheep to the summit, marked with a trig point. Walbury Hill is ringed by a very extensive Iron Age hill fort.

View from Gallows Down

Returning to the track, I continued over Gallows Down, passing a notice declaring Walbury Hill, at 297 m, to be the highest chalk hill in England.

Beyond Gallows Down (decorated with a gibbet) the Test Way joins the Wayfarer's Walk at Wigmoreash Pond. Here I headed back north towards Kintbury, walking diagonally down the very steep scarp of the Downs. I took a meandering route to Lower Green, Inkpen, taking in Bungum Lane (a bridleway) and Sands Drove.

Northcroft Farm
Northcroft Farm

The map showed a pub in Lower Green. I decided to divert to have a look at it, without hope of it being open on a dull Friday afternoon. However, the lights were on in the Swan Inn and the door was open. The landlord had decided to stay open to let a couple of walker who had arrived just before two o'clock have lunch. He turned out to be a very affable and we had a long talk about walking, Croydon (where he was born), travel and beer (the pub sells Butts, a local brew). He claimed that Walbury Hill wasn’t just the highest chalk hill in England, but the world. I recommend the pub if you are passing that way.

Kintbury from the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal

From the pub I took path passing Northcroft Farm (seemingly derelict and ripe for redevelopment), Balsdon Farm (a moat, and horses), St Cassian's College (the very image of a minor public school) and Kintbury Farm (more horses). From Kintbury Farm I followed the lane to where it joined Hungerford Road, then turned a little way back along the road to take a short footpath down to the canal. There was a large raptor overhead, with a distinct forked tail - a red kite.

I crossed the canal, then took the towpath back to Kintbury station. Here it proved to be better to get a train west to Hungerford, to change onto an HST going back to Paddington.

A rather gloomy, overcast day, but a fine walk.