A medium length walk with some uphill sections around The Unicorn.
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) Start from the car park of The Unicorn and walk left past the front of the pub and down the main road towards Sonning Common.
(1) After 300m turn left on to a side road, past Peppard House – note the interesting sculpture in the garden and further on the aptly named ‘The Old Cottage’ opposite the cricket pitch. Follow the road round to the right and observe some fine tree specimens in the garden of the Manor House, including an old false acacia. After the metalled road surface ends, continue to follow the track round a long left hand bend ignoring two footpaths off to the right. As the track straightens take the footpath on the right that takes a windy route downhill. Keep to the same path and bear left when other paths come in from the right then walk up to a minor road.
(2) Cross the road and slightly to the left follow the bridleway through a continuation of the woods. For about 400m the track follows the boundary of a flat area with banks around it. (Does anyone know what this area might have been once?). After 400m the track crosses another track and passes through fields up along the dry valley bottom. (The views here are exceptional and it is worth taking a short rest to take in the panorama. Further along the path the hedge has an interesting mixture of species, including the usual blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and dog rose, but also a lot of wild gooseberry and spindle, which has very attractive but deadly poisonous pink-orange fruits in autumn).
(3) At the end of the fields, the path enters a mature beech wood; continue through the woods along the valley bottom for about 1.5km. Keep going as straight as you can on the widest path (they do converge however). Look out for rectangular holes roughly 3 by 1.5m, which are partially filled saw pits from the days when timber was cut by hand. Keep straight on across a junction of paths for approx. 500m and at the end of the green fence you will see a field to your right; at the end of the field turn right and shortly afterwards you will reach a minor public road.
(4) Turn left and walk, with care, along the road and very soon you will pass a large cottage on the left called The Old Place. (If at this point you would like some refreshments and don’t mind extending your route, by just over a km and can cope with a bit of a climb, you can visit The Rising Sun pub at Witheridge Hill. To get to the pub continue along the road for about 250m until your reach a four way junction. Turn sharp right and walk up the hill along the road. At the top of the hill turn right on to a gravel drive into the pub car park. Afterwards just retrace your steps back to The Old Place.) Immediately after The Old Place take the metalled track by the side of the cottage and follow this track into the woods. The wood to the right is called Bear Wood, fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your disposition) you are unlikely to see one but do keep an eye out for deer.
(5) Near the top of the hill, on the left is Greyhone Wood, in which there is a fine plantation of majestic Douglas Fir, and on a warm spring day you will be treated to a wonderful aroma. After about 300m the unmade track becomes a metalled lane and shortly afterwards you will reach Kingwood Common on the right hand side of the lane. Continue walking along the lane for about 1km after which you will arrive back at the Unicorn.(D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 116m - The Unicorn
1 : km 0.22 - alt. 112m - Peppard House
2 : km 0.9 - alt. 90m - Colliers Lane
3 : km 1.67 - alt. 102m - End of the fields
4 : km 3.31 - alt. 115m - Road
5 : km 3.95 - alt. 147m - Greyhone Wood
D/A : km 5.86 - alt. 116m - The Unicorn
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
A book by Angela Spencer-Harper is the story of ‘The Old Place’ and its environs in the Chiltern Hills, it was the home of the author for many years. The book is a ‘factional’ history of the cottage and the surrounding area but it is unusual in that it starts in the future and then through a clever literary device, immediately reverts to the Mesolithic Age. It proceeds from there to the Beaker Folk, the Celts, Romans, and Anglo-Saxons before continuing with the Normans, Black Death, Civil War and Georgian periods. From this point on it tells of Victorian and more modern times, until it reaches the present day, when the partly autobiographical link with the first chapter becomes clear. Although it begins fictionally in 2068, much research has gone into known facts about the area and these, together with imaginative and captivating stories, have been skilfully woven by the author into a fascinating historical novel with an interesting difference.
A medium length walk with some steep climbs around The Unicorn.
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