Circular walk 8 – the wild side of Sandhurst

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

Start point: Shepherd Meadows and Sandhurst Memorial Park car park, Yorktown Road, Sandhurst GU47 0FH. SU 842613. Follow the footpath marked on the map to Swan Lane then turn left, pass under the railway line and proceed to the button roundabout. Start the walk half-way through point 3.

Distance: 7 km/ 4.5 miles

Walk time: 2 hours 15 minutes

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

Getting there

Car/bicycle/on foot: entrances to the Memorial Park can be found off the A321, Yorktown Road, GU47 9DP. Cycle stands are provided.

Bus: the nearest bus stop is located at the Meadows shopping centre off the A321. For further bus information contact Travel Line 0871 200 22 33.

Rail to Trail: the nearest station is Sandhurst. From Sandhurst Station, turn right onto Yorktown Road (A321)  and walk for 0.5 mile and your destination will be on your right.

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.
  • 1. From the car park 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.
  • 2. Half-way around the lake take a gravel path on the right just before some metal railings. Follow the path through Blackwater Reach Meadows. At the crossroads before the wooden bridge, turn right to eventually 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.

Walk through Sandhurst

  • 3. When you reach Swan Lane, turn right and continue down the road, passing under the railway. At the mini roundabout turn right onto Yorktown Road, cross with care and at the crossing by the shops, pass the library and walk along the Broadway.

Station link: to Sandhurst

  • 4. At the end of the road turn left along Wellington Road, after three houses cross the road to take a footpath called Calvert Walk between houses, 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 which runs between the houses.

Wildmoor Heath

  • 5. Follow the footpath sign straight into Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve. Bear left along the fence line, without crossing a stile. Go through the gate to 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 though heathland, still following the footpath.
  • 6. When you reach the footpath signs, take the one to the right. At the T-junction turn left. Proceed through kissing gate and follow the path through a pine wood to the car park, where there is a picnic area.
Today Shepherd Meadows and Sandhurst Memorial Park are neighbouring sites which provide a range of leisure activities for all the family. 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.
  • 7. Turning right to cross the car park and take the path to the right of the information board. Walk up the hill with the pylons on your right passing the next metal gate. At the top of the hill by the bench, turn left, then go down to the bottom of the hill and turn right onto the boardwalk. At the gate follow the path to the right and then to the left, after the second gate. The path now runs along the fence line. At the next crossroads turn right, to take the boardwalk which takes you through the wet heathland area that runs parallel with the road. When the boardwalk runs out, pass through 2 gates and continue straight leaving the wildlife walk. Then turn sharp left before the gravel road. Proceed through the woodland along the back of some houses.

Snaprails park and back to the start

  • 8. 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 right down Abingdon Road. Then turn left onto a surfaced path just after Atrebatti Road. This path takes you into Snaprails Park.
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.
  • 9. 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.
  • 10. 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 with care, go back into Sandhurst Memorial Park and return to the car park.