Heath Pond

11-Nov-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Beech Hill in autumn

11-Nov-12 • Sean O'Neill

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On the ridge

Crowthorne to Sandhurst (avoiding Eversley)

11-Nov-12 • moontiger on Flickr

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The Queen's Oak, Finchampstead

14-Apr-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Bluebell wood, Finchampstead

14-Apr-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Viewpoint on Finchampstead Ridges

14-Apr-14 • Sean O'Neill

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Wellington College grounds

23-Oct-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Blackwater to Wokingham walk


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Thu, 25-Feb-21

Date # Post
Sat, 15-Dec-18 4

Saturday walk - Crowthorne to Sandhurst - Berkshire heaths and woods

Length: 15.3km (9.5 miles) - with options to extend after lunch to 17.3km (10.4 miles) or 20.5km (12.7 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10 T=3.83

9.30 (Bristol Temple Meads-bound) train** from Paddington to Reading, arriving 9.55 and changing to the 10.04 to Crowthorne, arriving 10.18.

** If you get to Paddington a bit earlier you could get the 9.22 Worcester train which gives you four extra minutes to make the connection. The only convenient connection from Ealing Broadway is the 9.05 stopping service to Reading arriving at 9.50.

Buy a day return to Sandhurst - or to Blackwater if you plan to end there

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

I have not done this walk and so rely on the walk notes, which promise mixed woodland, heaths and pastures including the National Trust's Finchampstead Ridges. The afternoon is along the River Blackwater where there can apparently be flooding after heavy rain, but I don't think rain has yet been that heavy this winter....

Lunch is in Finchampstead after 8km (5 miles) where there is a pub - the Queen's Oak - described as "very welcoming to walkers", with another alternative nearby.

After lunch you can do the standard walk to Sandhurst - 13.5km (9.5 miles) or extend the walk in two ways. One possibility (option i) is a slightly longer afternoon, making a walk of 17.3km (10.4 miles) and another is to add a leg from Sandhurst to Blackwater (option ii), making a walk of 18.5km (11.4 miles). Doing BOTH these options would make a walk of 20.5km (12.7 miles).

Tea is in one of two pubs in Sandhurst: there seem to be no tea options at Blackwater, however.

Trains back are at 28 past from Blackwater or 31 past from Sandhurst, changing at Reading
Wet, basically. Cold and wet. If you stayed under the duvet today because of the dire weather forecast, for once you made the right call. Five of us ventured out regardless, but one thought better of it a hundred metres into the walk (Is this a record?) and headed home, so actually there were 4 of us.

In fact, the morning was not that bad. Rain greeted us as we disembarked at Crowthorne, but it was light and intermittent until lunch. The scenery was a very pleasant mix of heath and woods, dry underfoot on firm paths. On a nicer day this would have been a perfect winter walk.

The Queen’s Oak pub is described in the walk notes as “walker friendly”. They were certainly perfectly welcoming, but I suspect this establishment has undergone a change of management since the last walk update, as it is now a table service place with a fairly posh menu. They had one unreserved table and three of us had a perfectly pleasant meal there.

After lunch, alas, the rain set in. We did the slightly longer afternoon route and were soon in hunker down mode keep the body core warm, maintain essential functions and so forth. The best that can be said about such weather is that it tests your kit (Sealskin socks and waterproof trousers Pass; gloves and twenty year old waterproof jacket Fail). The section along the River Blackwater seemed very pleasant on the occasions when I raised my eyes from the ground, but they were very rare occasions. For the record, this section was not the least bit waterlogged, despite warnings in the walk document a good gravel path throughout and the river level a metre and a half below us.

We even got to Sandhurst with clean boots, and cleaner waterproof trousers than we had set off with. Our martial spirits were somewhat impaired, though. Even though it was only 3pm and our ranks included two stalwart long walkers, plans to carry on to Blackwater were ditched. Instead we went to the pub for tea or wine, and to start the long process of drying out before variously getting the 3.30 and 4.30 trains home.
Sun, 01-Apr-18 4

Sunday Walk – The Blackwater Valley (Crowthorne-Sandhurst)

Extra Walk 83(b) – Crowthorne to Sandhurst (or Blackwater)
Length: 17¼ km (10.7 miles) to Sandhurst, or 20½ km (12.7 miles) to Blackwater. Toughness: 3/10

10:03 Cardiff train from Paddington, changing at Reading (arr 10:37, dep 10:48) for the Redhill train, arriving Crowthorne at 11:02. A return to Blackwater is the most flexible ticket on this route.

If it's more convenient you could take the 09:30 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo (Clapham Jct 09:39) and change at Guildford (arr 10:11, dep 10:23) for the Reading train, arriving on Crowthorne's other platform 10 minutes earlier at 10:52. However, there are rumours of industrial action over Easter on South Western Railways out of Waterloo. If you do take this route, buy a return to Crowthorne.

The Waterloo/Guildford ticket is cheaper but is not valid for return via Reading; the more expensive ticket lets you return on either route.

The Sunday service on the Reading-Redhill line was improved at the end of 2017 and trains back from Sandhurst are now hourly in each direction, at xx:05 via Guildford and xx:49 via Reading. If you take the optional 2-mile extension to Blackwater there are two trains per hour, at around xx:09 & xx:34 via Guildford, xx:18 & xx:45 via Reading.

I'm taking a chance on posting this walk since the most recent feedback was from some punters who got hopelessly lost, although I have an unworthy suspicion that they clicked a 'random play' button on the directions and tried to follow the sections out of order. To be fair, the ongoing gravel workings in the Blackwater valley might have resulted in some footpath diversions, so be prepared to use your initiative.

The walk itself is a mix of woodland, heaths and pastures, returning alongside flooded gravel pits and through nature reserves in the Blackwater valley. The Queen's Oak has always been very welcoming and if you call them in advance they've been know to reserve a cosy bar for groups of walkers at lunchtime; let's hope they can manage on Easter Sunday. The options for tea in Sandhurst or Blackwater aren't quite so enticing, but there are several pubs in the area and a Café in the Park on the route between the two stations.

You'll need to bring the directions from the Crowthorne to Sandhurst Walk page. You can click the word 'Main' in the Walk Options heading to hide the unnecessary directions for the Short Walk variation. T=swc.83
Just to correct a typo, if travelling from Waterloo via Guildford the connection is Guildford (arr 10:11, dep 10:23)
Well spotted, thanks. Connection times at Guildford corrected.
There seem to be problems with trains out of paddington this morning 0 the 10;03 cancelled suggest waterloo
I hear that some people find it hard to get their walk reports accepted by the system, so to keep the walks archivist happy I'll record that 4 people turned up at the appointed time on a cloudy but dry day. The gloomy weather and rumours of train problems with GWR at Paddington meant that only one was there in time to catch a fast train to Reading a few minutes before the cancelled 10:03, meeting three who'd arrived at Crowthorne from the other direction.

This was not the best time of year for this walk. The snowdrops were long gone, the daffodils fading and the bluebells still slumbering; on the lakes the winter migrants had flown and the summer visitors yet to arrive. There was of course plenty of mud, if not the flooded areas reported on other recent outings. On the plus side the Queen's Oak deserves high praise for squeezing us in and serving four excellent lunches, substantial enough to put paid to thoughts of the longer afternoon or optional extension. We duly reached Sandhurst in good time for trains back around 4pm, although GWR had one trick up its sleeve: holding the train outside Guildford just long enough to miss the connection to Waterloo. I hope others got back without too much delay.
Sat, 17-Dec-16

Third Walk

SWC Walk 83 - Crowthorne to Sandhurst
Length: 17.25 km (10.7 miles).
Toughness: 3/10
Extended walk option: 20.5km;
Short options via Eversley Cross 11.75km or extended to Blackwater 15km.

Catch the 9:27 train from London Paddington (changing Reading, arr.9:56, dep: 10:04), arrives Sandhurst Crowthorne 10:18. Return trains from Sandhurst xx:35 (changing Reading, arr.xx:54, dep: xx:03), arrives Paddington xx:31. An earlier train has been scheduled so as not to risk finishing after civil dusk.

The suggested lunchtime pub on the Main Walk is The Queen's Oak (0118-973 4855) in Church Lane at the northern end of Finchampstead, 8 km into the walk; this is very welcoming to walkers and serves a good variety of freshly-cooked food from noon to 21:00 on Saturdays. T=3.83
I think the info above should say " arrives Crowthorne 10.18"
Crowthorne to Sandhurst: The posted train to Reading wasn't on the Paddington board when I got there just before 9 so I took another train which should have taken a half hour but it was delayed en route, took twice as long & only just arrived in time to get the planned Crowthorne connection. On arrival not a single other walker emerged from the train. So I got on with the Short Walk extended to Blackwater, evocatively misty at first especially at Heath Pond but it cleared up later, lunched at Frog & Wicket, Eversley Cross which was very friendly & welcoming and finished just after 3.30 without seeing a single other walker all day. I'm sure some of you must have reached the area despite the travel problems and look forward to reading a report.
Sat, 29-Oct-16 12

Saturday Third Walk – Heaths and lakes in the Blackwater valley

Extra Walk 83ab – Crowthorne to Blackwater, via Eversley Cross
Length: 15 km (9.3 miles), with shorter option (see below). Toughness: 1/10

10:30 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo, changing at Guildford (arr 11:03, dep 11:09) for the Reading train, arriving Crowthorne at 11:38. From Clapham Jct you could take the 10:27 Exeter train and change at Woking (arr 10:45, dep 10:55) as well as Guildford. Buy a return to Crowthorne.

Alternatively, if you'd like more time for the critical connection at Guildford, take the 10:15 Haslemere train from Waterloo (Clapham Jct 10:22), arriving there at 10:50.

Trains back from Blackwater towards Redhill (changing at Guildford for Waterloo) are at 25 & 51 minutes past the hour.

Shorter Option: The walk route goes past Sandhurst station after 11¾ km (7.3 miles), where there are hourly trains towards Redhill at 22 minutes past. [You could also take a train in the other direction at 35 minutes past and change at Wokingham for Waterloo, but this takes longer.]

I wouldn't advise travelling back via Reading and changing there for Paddington as this is only valid with a more expensive "Any Permitted Route" ticket (£14.25 vs. £10.45 with a Network Card).

The short version of this walk has only had a couple of winter postings, each of which suffered from a flooded footpath just before the lunch stop. I thought I'd give it an outing in (hopefully) drier conditions, especially now that the relatively new optional extension to Blackwater makes it more suitable for longer days. It covers similar ground to the main version – pine woods, heathland, lakes, pastures and a long stretch alongside the River Blackwater – although to confuse GPS aficionados some of it is in the opposite direction.

There's a choice of two nice lunch pubs just off the large village green at Eversley Cross, the Frog and Wicket and The Chequers. If you finish at Sandhurst the Village Inn is reportedly better for tea or coffee, but a Halloween Beer Festival at the Rose & Crown will doubtless appeal to some. There are no particularly inviting places near Blackwater station, so if you're doing this extension the suggested tea place is Pistachios in the Park café at the entrance to Sandhurst's Memorial Park; allow 35-40 minutes for the final 2½ km.

You'll need to print the directions from the Extra Walk 83 page. You can reduce the amount of printing by clicking "Short" on the Walk Options line, which hides the directions and map routes which are only needed for the Main Walk.

PDF version: As an alternative, a PDF version of the Short Walk variations is on this Walk 83 (short) page. I'd be interested to hear how well this displays on various mobile devices. T=swc.83.ab
12 11 off the train, 1 SWC exile from Hampshire. mild overcast dry dry underfoot. Some signs of autumn but it could try harder. Pretty none the less. Good walk for fungi, mostly poisonous, some deadly. Chestnuts too.
Lunch at the Frog and Wicket was fine (with the possible exception of a microscopic beetroot tart). Most pressed on to Blackwater. 3 stopped at Sandhurst.

Sat, 23-May-15 6

Walk 3-83: Crowthorne to Blackwater

Length: 20.5km (12.7 miles), Toughness: 3/10

Train: 10:30 from Waterloo changing at Guildford (arr. 11:03, dep. 11:09) to Crowthorne arriving at 11:38. Buy a day return to Crowthorne. Return trains from Blackwater are at 16:25,17:25,19:25,20:25 (change at Farnborough North, walk to Farnborough Main) and xx:51 (change at Guildford). It is also possible to return to Paddington (change at Reading) at xx:02, xx:31.

Options: The walk can be shortened by 2km by taking a short-cut through Finchampstead omitting Eversley.

Lunch: The Queens Oak (0118 973 4855) in Finchampstead about 8km into the walk. About 2.5k further is the Tally Ho (01189 732 134). If taking the short-cut through Finchampstead another option is The Greyhound (0118 973 2269) about 9km into the walk.

Tea: Pistachios in the Park at Sandhurst Memorial Park. It's about 40 minutes from here to Blackwater station.

Directions: For more information including directions, maps, GPS etc. see SWC.83

6 on the walk.
4 had lunch at The Queen's Oak, 2 had a packed lunch before joining the others in the pub.
2 caught the train from Sandhurst. The remainder headed to Blackwater, stopping for tea and cake at Pistachios in the Park, which is highly recommended.
Sun, 14-Dec-14 5 Crowthorne to Sandhurst, via Eversley Cross
Sat, 19-Apr-14 8 Crowthorne to Sandhurst
Sun, 11-Nov-12 Crowthorne to Sandhurst, omitting Eversley
Wed, 19-Oct-11 Crowthorne to Sandhurst
Sun, 20-Feb-11 Crowthorne to Sandhurst, omitting Eversley
Sat, 07-Aug-10 Crowthorne to Sandhurst
Wed, 03-Mar-10 Crowthorne Circular, via Eversley Cross
Mon, 28-Dec-09 Blackwater to Wokingham