An interesting and varied walk - including the Kennet and Avon canal, the open heathland of Greenham Common, the woods of Crookham Common and the rural River Enborne.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) From Thatcham Station, set off along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon canal (West) towards Newbury. After Monkey Marsh Lock, cross the canal at the swing bridge on your left and follow the bridleway/track to Chamberhouse Farm (there is no longer a ford). Go through the farm and continue along the bridleway up the hill to Burys Bank Road.
(1) Cross over the road, go through the gate onto the common and immediately turn right along a gravel path which curves around a sunken former quarry with several ponds. Continue along the path around the sunken area, ignoring paths that fork off to the right, until it joins one more substantial gravel path. Continue along this path for around 150m to a T junction.
(2) Turn right at the T junction. To confirm you are in the right place, there is a steel air base artifact to your left that looks like a heavy-duty bar table, and some earth mounds to your right. Continue straight along this path until the T junction just before you reach the trees.
(3) Turn left. Almost immediately after turning left, take the narrower path that forks to the right. This small detour takes you into a part of the common with more varied vegetation. Where the path forks again, take the right-hand path down a small dip with silver birch trees on your left, and climb out of the dip through a gap between gorse bushes.
The path now curves round to the left, and you will see a gate at the end of a short path to the right. Go through this gate onto Old Thornford Road.
(4) Cross over the road and take the path that curves left to follow the road. Cross over the access track to a house, and after 10m turn right along a path. Keep on this path that turns right, ignoring paths to the left, until you reach a T junction beneath a large oak tree.
(5) Take the right-hand path, which narrows and descends to Thornford Road. Cross the road and go down to the ford.
(6) Cross the River Enborne by the footbridge, then go through a gap on your left in the opposite hedge to reach the bank of the river.
The public footpath follows the meandering river bank for more than 1km. Please follow this path, and respect the notices saying "Conservation headland: please keep off". The path then continues through a kissing gate, and you will shortly reach a footbridge over the river.
(7) Cross over the footbridge and take the right-hand path, which initially goes to the left of the trees on the riverbank downstream.
The path then continues diagonally (North-East) across the field. It should be visible on the ground but, if not, aim for the electricity transformer on a pole.
After a bridge over a field ditch, the path deviates slightly to the left, so now aim for the large oak tree to the left of the house. Follow the narrow path alongside the house and then turn left uphill along the track. At the top of the hill, continue along the signed public footpath into a narrow 'finger' of trees (the track goes to the right of the trees). This then joins a driveway that emerges onto Crookham Common Road.
(8) Cross the road and enter the woods through a gap opposite (you may need to go 10m to the right if it is overgrown). Turn left along a path in the narrow strip of common land between the road and the caravan park, which emerges back onto the road a short distance from its entrance. Turn right along the lane to its end (don't enter the caravan park).
(9) The public footpath continues downhill to the left of the gates, with the fence of the WWII bomb store to your right. At the end of the woods, continue along the left-hand edge of a field, over Prior's Moor Ditch and a second field to Crookham Manor. Skirt round its fence, then turn left along its driveway.
Continue along Chamberhouse Lane and turn right at the end onto Crookham Hill to return to Thatcham Station. (D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 69m - Thatcham Station
1 : km 1.88 - alt. 110m - Burys Bank Road
2 : km 2.86 - alt. 116m - Path junction
3 : km 3.14 - alt. 111m - Path forks
4 : km 3.47 - alt. 110m - Old Thornford Road
5 : km 4.16 - alt. 102m - Path Junction
6 : km 4.45 - alt. 74m - Ford
7 : km 6.17 - alt. 68m - Footbridge
8 : km 7.5 - alt. 114m - Crookham Common Road
9 : km 8.52 - alt. 100m - End of lane - entrance to WWII bomb store
D/A : km 10.61 - alt. 69m - Thatcham Station
There are two car parks at Thatcham Station and on-street parking adjacent to the station, which all require payment seven days a week. There may be a few off-road spaces near the start of the walk, and there are residential streets a few hundred meters away.
There is a pub close to Thatcham Station (the Swan). The pub in Crookham has now closed permanently.
For a shorter version of this walk starting from Crookham Common (5.5km), see the route description 'The River Enborne from Crookham Common'.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
(D) Monkey Marsh Lock is a reconstruction of a rare early turf-sided lock - see the information board at the lock for a description.
(2) Greenham Common was the site of a World War II airfield, a larger US Airforce cold war airfield and a base for ground launched cruise missiles - and the site of the 1980s womens peace camp. After the base closed, the runways were dug up and the area returned to commons by a special Act of Parliament.Before the cold war air field was constructed, the road from Brimpton continued straight across the common to Greenham. Thornford Road was constructed to divert traffic around the airfield.
(6) The ford is too deep for cars, except perhaps in the driest of weather. The numerous warning signs and the gate are the result of a fatal accident when a car was washed downstream.
(6) The River Enborne marks the county boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire.
(9) The area behind the gates was a bomb store for the WWII air field. It was some distance away from the air field to avoid it being hit by German bombing.
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