Arborfield Walkers - 21st October 2017

On the 21st October we held the eighth of our countryside walks. This was the last in this series and we went a bit further north to Arborfield. This is an area that will soon change dramatically due to new housing and new bypass roads.
When we met at the public car park near The Bull pub at Arborfield Cross, Storm Brian was making its presence felt with some very strong winds and occasional squalls. We headed north into the Barkham Coombes, soon to cross Barkham Brook for the first time. The brook flows northwest to join the Loddon near Sindlesham Mill. We followed a sequence of lanes to the top of Gravelpit Hill which provided views over the golf course near Bearwood Lake and house. Just visible above the pine trees, the house is now a college and described as one of the grandest houses in Berkshire.
Luckily the rain had stopped by now and we recrossed the brook again near Carters Hill Farm. We now faced the full strength of the wind as we headed south through the Centre for Dairy Research (CEDAR), part of the Department of Agriculture of Reading University and one of the world's leading research centres on bovine health. We continued on for almost a mile through their 645 hectares of land, stopping to look at some of the older buildings and, amid the last shower of the day, the remains of the old church. The newer church (1863) was visible on our left hand side almost throughout the walk.
After crossing the Reading road we passed through Pound Copse, a woodland previously private but now donated to the council, and onto the open fields beyond. Here, in the shelter of a hedge, Angus and Marilyn provided us all with welcome tea, coffee and cakes. After these refreshments we took our traditional group photo. (Thanks to Dennis Morton.)
While pausing here we interrupted some beaters chasing the pheasants out from the cornfields. They waited until we were on our way before we could look back and see a line of men shooting their way towards Milkingbarn Lane. Maybe we gave the pheasants twenty extra minutes to get away! We then passed the picturesque Kenney’s Farm before entering the lanes near Bound Oak and turning north through Long Copse - then came the last ascent of the day onto the ridges which, with the sun now shining, provided excellent views to the east and also to the site of the expected new roads. The M4 turbine and Shire Hall were once again visible to the north.
It was here with just a few hundred yards to go that unfortunately Val, who was on her first walk with us, slipped and fell heavily. We wish her a speedy recovery. Otherwise the crowd of almost thirty of us seemed to enjoy the walk very much. I'd like to thank everyone who has come along on any of our walks this year - with excellent attendances you have made the effort of organising them very worthwhile, and I hope to see you all again soon.
Paul Sanders