Circular walk 8 – the wild side of Sandhurst

Circular walk 8 – the wild side of Sandhurst [Updated 2021]

This route will take you alongside the river, through parkland, meadows, heathland and bog, showing the variety of habitats present along the Valley.

About the walk

Distance: 7½ km/ 4¾ miles

Walk time: 2-2½ hours

Terrain: Some slopes and uneven ground, some wet and boggy areas

Getting there

Start point: Sandhurst Railway Station, High Street, Sandhurst, Berkshire, GU47 9DX 

Bus: If you prefer to come by bus, services 194, 1945, 494, 598 and X94 stop by Sandhurst Memorial Park; pick up the walk at point 10.

Cycle: Cycle stands are provided at Sandhurst Memorial Park; pick up the walk at point 10.

Car: You can park at Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve car park, Sandhurst Rd, Crowthorne RG45 7PN, SU 838630 and pick up the walk at point 6; or at Sandhurst Memorial Park car park, Yorktown Road, Sandhurst GU47 0FH, SU 842613 and pick up the walk at point 10.Blackwater Meadows

Sandhurst derived from 'sand', being the type of soil, and 'hurst', meaning wood. One of the earliest records of Sandhurst is in the Sonning Hundreds of 1316 when it belonged to the Bishop of Salisbury. Sandhurst was a small farming community, part of the Windsor Forest. As such it was subject to forest laws, local people had the right to cut turf, heather, bracken and wood that had been cultivated to feed the forest deer. Very little changed until the 1800s when large sections of land were sold for building the Royal Military Academy in 1812.

Walk through Sandhurst

  • 1. From either side of Sandhurst Station come down the exit ramps from the platform and turn left.  If you have travelled southbound follow the pavement around under the railway bridge to the northbound exit ramp.  Take the next left signed High Street and Private Road. After a few yards, where the track swings right take the paved path to the left and walk along below the railway embankment.
  • 2. When you reach the road (Swan Lane), turn left and pass under the railway. At the mini roundabout turn right onto Yorktown Road.  At the crossing by the shops, cross the road, pass the library and turn left along the Broadway.
  • 3. At the end of the road turn left along Wellington Road.  Pass Albion Road, then after three houses cross the road to take a footpath between houses called Calvert Walk, leading to Beech Ride.  Follow Beech Ride to the right and uphill then downhill.  At the end of the road cross to the right of a vegetated road island to take a footpath that runs between the houses.

Wildmoor Heath

Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve includes areas of wet and dry heathland, which is an important habitat for a wide variety of species. Over 55 species of birds have been recorded here. Look out for dragonflies and damselflies on your walk and if you're lucky you may even see a Common Lizard sunning itself on the boardwalk.

The site is managed by the Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and Bracknell Forest Borough Council. There may be cattle/ponies on site so dogs should be kept on a lead.

Dragonflies are impressive insects. Not only can they fly up to 40 km per hour, but they can also fly vertically, backwards and dive dramatically from left and right. They have large eyes giving them almost all-round vision that helps them spot their prey, mainly other insects which they catch on the wing.

The Southern Hawker can be seen between early July and early October. This mainly green dragonfly is common in the Valley. In contrast damselflies fly rather slowly, mostly catching prey they find in vegetation. They have a long thin body and two pairs of wings, which they generally fold over their body when resting.

  • 4. Follow the footpath sign into Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve.  Go straight ahead and onto a boardwalk.  Go through the gate and continue on the boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk head straight though an area of birch trees, then bear left keeping to the wider path which slopes uphill through heathland, still following the footpath.
  • 5. When you reach a junction with footpath signs, take the one to the right. At the T-junction turn left. Continue on this path, passing around a small corral and through a pine wood to the car park, where there is a picnic area.
  • 6. Turn right to cross the car park and take the path beyond a green gate to the right of the information board. Walk up the hill with pylons on your right and go straight on to reach a gate across the path next to a kissing gate.  Turn right here, passing under the pylons, through a kissing gate and up the hill to a bench.  Follow the path as it swings left.  At the bottom of a hill you reach another boardwalk.  Turn right onto the boardwalk across a wet heathland area. Follow it through gates until it comes to an end.  Go straight ahead, passing through two gates.  Just before a gate leading onto a gravel road, turn sharp left and walk through the woodland along the back of some houses.

Snaprails park and back to the start

During the reign of Henry VIII, sheep breeding was introduced into this area which was known as Sheep Rayles and slowly the population of Sandhurst began to increase. Today the site, now known as Snaprails Park, occupies 3.5 hectare of parkland and includes open grassy areas, a stream and pond, children's play area benches.
  • 7. At the stream, cross over and take the path to the right, continuing along the fence line. Keep to the main path, which will emerge onto Abingdon Road. Cross the road and follow the pavement along Abingdon Road. Just after Atrebatti Road turn left onto a surfaced path leading into Snaprails Park.
  • 8. Follow the main path through the Park with a stream to the right, passing the playground on the left. Continue along the path until it comes out onto Wellington Road.
  • 9. Turn right and then left into Brookside. This is a no through road to traffic but can be used by pedestrians. Follow the road to the end, cross Yorktown Road using the crossing, and go into Sandhurst Memorial Park.

Blackwater Meadows

Today Shepherd Meadows and Sandhurst Memorial Park are neighbouring sites that provide a range of leisure activities for all the family. 
  • 10. Cross the car park to follow the surfaced path past buildings on the left and a children's playground on the right. Pass through a metal gate, following the path alongside a ditch, to the lake. Keep right around the lake
  • 11. Half-way around the lake take a gravel path on the right just before some metal railings.  It is signed to Shepherds Meadow Nature Reserve. Follow the path through Blackwater Reach Meadows. At the crossroads before the wooden bridge, turn right and you soon go over a large metal bridge that crosses the river and railway line. Once over the bridge follow the path to the right along the west bank of the river, keeping to the path close to the river.  At the road (Swan Lane although there is no sign) turn right.  Just before passing under the railway bridge, take the footpath to the left to return to Sandhurst station, or continue the walk at point 2.