Yes I know it’s a Thursday and that I did this walk on Tuesday but Wednesday Walk has more of a ring to it, just like the Sunday Stroll….
Anyway, enough of my excuses, here we go lets just get into the walk around Snelsmore Common and Donnington Valley. Basically these are in the same place, its just that the common is fenced off and separate from the valley. The walk itself is one that is recommended by The AA (Automobile Association) and is one that I can thoroughly recommend with some good descents and climbs throughout the woods and glades.
To be honest I have never had part of a walk described as a sunny glade but on this occasion, as I followed the description laid out by The AA, those were the exact chosen words. I suppose it was just as well it was sunny otherwise I would have missed them…. 😉
So Archie and I drove the ten or so miles to the start of the walk, even crossing our favourite (The Ridgeway) as we made our way south from where I live. It was a very beautiful day so it seemed a shame to waste it (and I am glad I did not as yesterday it rained and rained and then some). Now, back to this walk of ours.
As I said, it started off at Snelsmore Common which unbeknownst to me was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (although I actually have no idea what one of those is….)
Archie and I parked up and headed off through the sunny glade and into the woods proper.
And straight into some scenery that wouldn’t look out of place in a Robin Hood film!
The terrain was very undulating so was a good work out for the legs. As ever Archie and I decided to go off of the track somewhat and took our own detours following the lesser trodden path by starting through a gate with the name of an old school friend brandished into it. To say it was a bit random is an understatement!
But as I said, it did lead us off of the beaten track and down to where the woods are more wild and the smells much more fruity for Archie!
With many more squirrels for him to focus on.
And weirder things for me to concentrate on. Now I know this isn’t the best picture but does anyone know what this carbuncle is attached to this tree?
Eventually you leave the world of the forrest behind, following a well signposted footpath which bring you out to the most amazing views across part of the valley.
and if you follow the lane down the edge of the field a little further.
You see what all the fuss is about and why these walks around the common are so well regarded.
Eventually through my own mistake, I found myself on a road that wound its way through the countryside. Very quiet and hardly used given the condition of it! I would have preferred to stay in the woods and on the lanes but I think Archie enjoyed the little detour as it meant he could cool down a little.
Because someone was more than happy to take a dip in a cool shallow stream.
If you look closely, you can even see him licking his lips!
Once we had Archie out of the stream and back on dry land we continued down the road with had all of the hallmarks of the quintessential village traffic systems that the countryside is famous for, including a manicured island for a junction…. Very Miss Marple 😉
But the most amazing things is that only 500 yards from views like these:
Is a pathway that although picturesque, leads up to a bridge
Heading through Autumn foliage.
To cross a dual carriageway by the name of the A34 (a seriously busy link road from the motorways from the docks in very south of the country to the motorways to the rest of the UK) The best bit was, I have often thought I would like to walk on one of these bridges and do you know what? I was right!!
But all too soon we were back in the quiet sanctity of the countryside literally only a couple of hundred yards later, oh and right next to the fairway of a Golf Course!
But Archie and I quickly ducked away from the game Winston Churchill once allegedly called the “Ruination of a good walk” and were back in the woods and wildlife once again.
And of course when you are in the woods, you always need a swing….
Can’t see it yet? How about this…
Ooh yes, thats a bit better, but I suppose this might be a trifle clearer…
The manor of Donnington was held by the Abberbury family from 1287, and in 1386 Sir Richard Abberbury was granted a licence ‘to crenellate and fortify a castle at Donyngton, Berks’ by Richard II. Sir Richard had been a companion of Richard II’s father, Edward the Black Prince, at the battles of Crécy and Poitiers.
The castle consisted originally of a curtain wall with four round corner towers, two square wall towers and a substantial gatehouse, constructed around a courtyard in the style typical of the fortified residences of the period.
Accommodation was provided in the towers or in buildings within the courtyard, set against the castle walls. The courtyard buildings are likely to have been of timber construction and possibly included a hall, a kitchen and lodgings for guests.
In the early 15th century the castle was held by Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and later passed into the ownership of the Crown. Henry VIII is reported to have stayed here in 1539 and Elizabeth I in 1568.
THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR
During the Civil War Charles I set up his headquarters in Oxford and in 1643 dispatched Sir John Boys, with 200 foot soldiers, 25 cavalry and sufficient cannon to resist a siege, to take possession of Donnington from the Parliamentarian John Packer.
Having taken the castle, Boys built defences around the lower slopes of the hill in the shape of a star, the projections providing sites for gun emplacements that gave a good field of fire.
Between 1644 and 1646 the castle was attacked many times, twice being relieved by the king in person. Only when the Royalist cause appeared hopeless did Boys surrender to the Parliamentarian troops, after first obtaining the king’s permission to do so.
Parliament voted to demolish the badly damaged castle in 1646 and only the gatehouse was left standing*
A few more pictures to keep you enthralled.
Of course as you know, there is no show without Punch and he just had to get in the shot, convinced that he would soon be getting the keys for his little compact and bijou, two up two down with great views.
And this was the view from his doorstep that he liked so very much!
Still, Archie eventually realised that no-one was coming to open the doors for him so it was soon time to move on. Back across the A34 dual carriageway over another bridge (twice in one day!) I felt like one of the Billy Goats Gruff crossing so many bridges but there were no Trolls here, it turns out that they only really exist in Cyberspace 😉 and pretty soon we were enjoying the sunshine once again on our way back to the Common.
As Archie cast his own shadow.
Taking time to enjoy the view back the way we came and the one that was surrounding us now with all of the glorious colours that come out at this time of year to sparkle in the sunshine.
But all too soon we were back in the woods of the Common with Archie now starting to play catch up on his way back to the car.
But not before we stopped to take in the fire prevention system that is obviously only too important when things are this dry, I would call these things beaters to beat the flames down with, simple yet probably very effective.
Of course effective if caught quick enough by the person who patrols the observation tower!
How cool is that?! I have never seen an observation tower in real life! So that was two new experiences I had on my walk. Okay, both may have been a bit pedestrian but they made me smile.
Thats the walk over for this week so I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as Archie and I enjoyed walking it. 🙂
FOOD DIARY:Tuesday 20th October 2015
|Qty||Measure||Food||Calories (gr)||Protein (gr)||Carbs (gr)||Fat (gr)|
|Lunch||1||Small Bowl||Keema Palak||185||28||5.5||4|
|Dinner||1||Small Bowl||Homemade Chicken Curry||175||19||13||7|
|1||Medium Naan||Plain Naan||361||9.7||58.8||9.7|
Well the food totals aren’t too bad if I had been going to the gym but the carbs are ridiculous considering I only walked four and a half miles. I think I am going to have to get myself back in check. My food has become lazy with too many treats in there. I don’t need a Naan when I have had toast and beans earlier in the day. I certainly don’t need to have a latte EVERY day as I appear to be doing, so I must nip this in the bud lest I start to put on weight which as we all know is easily done when sedentary and eating the wrong foods. Still, I shall put it down to experience and address the elephant in the room in my own inimitable way… 😉
Obviously the above walk was taken the day before yesterday when the sun was shining as I had seen what the weather had in store for us yesterday and decided to make the proverbial hay. However, it didn’t mean that I sat and did nothing, I was still active even though I had a heavy day of writing with this and doing my homework for my Effective Writing course.
I took the dog out for a quick two and a half miles and monitored my progress with my Map My Walk app.
Of course, as ever this helped to keep my steps up for the day and although there was no record breaking going on as I was a homebody for the day, I still managed a reasonable total of just over 8,000 steps.
Stay out of the fridge.
*Courtesy of English Heritage.