Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton walk

Easy walk with some gentle climbs en route which crosses Greenham Common, a former World War II and NATO airfield.


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.

Date Post # Weather
Sun, 15-Mar-20 Sunday walk: Greenham Common and Berkshire farmland 2 wet and windy
Sat, 29-Dec-18 Saturday Walk - Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton (Midgham station) or to Thatcham 11 cloudy
Wed, 11-Jan-17 Wednesday Walk – Moonlight Special (hopefully) with Some Gentle Climbs and Greenham Common, a Re-naturalized former WW II and NATO Airfield 11 fairly sunny
Sat, 17-Jan-15 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton 4
Sun, 25-May-14 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton 0
Sat, 27-Apr-13 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton 5
Sun, 26-Feb-12 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sat, 25-Jun-11 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sun, 20-Mar-11 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sun, 04-Apr-10 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sat, 07-Mar-09 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sat, 21-Jun-08 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sat, 19-Jan-08 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Wed, 03-Oct-07 Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton
Sun, 15-Mar-20
Sunday walk: Greenham Common and Berkshire farmland
Newbury to Woolhampton
Length: 17,5km (10.9 miles) Toughness: 2/10

Both today's walks were posted last month, but were scuppered by Storm Dennis, so we're giving them another chance today.

10:36 Castle Cary train from Paddington arriving Newbury at 11:14.
If starting from Ealing Broadway, take the 09:44 Reading train, changing at Maidenhead or Reading for a train to Newbury that arrives at 11:01.

Return trains from Midgham to Paddington, are at 15:56 (direct), or at 18:02 and 20:03 (changing at Reading) (journey time 44 mins or 57 mins). If you just miss one of these trains (or even if you don’t) and if daylight allows, you could extend the walk by walking westwards along the canal to Thatcham station which has additional trains to Paddington at 15:02, 17:04, and 19:01. This adds 4.5km to the total distance.

The walk was originally designed to start from Newbury Racecourse, but trains to Newbury are faster and more frequent, and the alternative start is included in the walk directions.

This is an easy walk, with some gentle climbs en route, that crosses Greenham Common where the abandoned cruise missile silos still loom menacingly over the landscape. The remainder of the walk traverses quiet woods and farmland. The recommended lunchtime pub is The Travellers Friend in Crookham Common (01189 713156), and the tea stop is the popular Rowbarge pub close to Midgham station. But do leave time to reach the London-bound platform before the level crossing barriers descend, after which there’s no way across the tracks.

You will need to download the Walk Directions

  • The Railwayman

    There were just 2 walkers at Newbury Station that alighted from the 10:36 from Paddington. The weather in the morning was wet and windy . The paths over Greenham common were good but became very muddy (though not of the glooping kind) once we entered open country. Lunch at the Travellers Rest wasn't good; the vegetables were over cooked. The rain cleared after lunch and good progress was made until Midgham where the path around the gravel pit was flooded. Reached Midgham for a drink in the Rowbarge and the 18:03 train.

Sat, 29-Dec-18
Saturday Walk - Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton (Midgham station) or to Thatcham
Length: 19.8 km (12.3 mi) [or 24.3 km to Thatcham]
Ascent/Descent: 198/207m; Net Walking Time: 4 hours
Toughness: 3/10
Take the 9.25 Bristol Temple Meads train from Paddington (change Reading 9.54/10.06 onto the Newbury train), arrives Newbury Racecourse at 10.23.
Return trains are 16.19, 17.27, 18.27 etc. (change Reading) but also 16.27 (change Newbury and Reading). [From Thatcham: 16.03, 16.15, 17.07, 17.23, 18.03…].
Buy a Newbury Racecourse return.
This is a fairly easy walk with some gentle climbs en route. The morning section of the walk crosses Greenham Common, a former World War II and NATO airfield. In 1953 it was made available to the United States Air Force by the Ministry of Defence as a Strategic Air Command base and in the early 1980s cruise missiles were deployed here. Subsequently the last cruise missiles were removed in 1991, and the facility was closed and put up for sale in 1993. The Greenham Common Trust purchased the land in 1997 and the majority of the land has been returned to something approaching its former natural state. (The cruise missile storage silos have been fenced off. - the cost of demolishing them being prohibitive.)
For the rest it’s fields, woods and waterways...
Lunch: The Travellers Friend in Crookham Common (10.0 km/6.2 mi, food to 15.00) or The Ship Inn in Ashford Hill (13.6 km/8.5 mi, food to 14.00).
Tea: The Rowbarge in Woolhampton.
For summary, map, height profile, some photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.34
  • 28-Dec-18

    Whilst contemplating which walk to do, I discovered the train to Newbury has changed slightly and is now Reading 1006 arr Newbury Racecourse 1023. Incidentally, you get the 0848 Reading train from Ealing Broadway.

    I haven't checked the return train times.

  • 28-Dec-18

    Thanks Pete. Post amended. Rtn train times unch.

  • 29-Dec-18

    Reading Station has it going at 1012....

  • 29-Dec-18

    There was a choice of Newbury Racecourse trains at Reading. The 10.06, taken by 8 of us, turned out to be a race day special that “non-stopped” (in railway guard lingo) all the way to its destination. One walker, we later discovered, got the slower 10.12, presumably the normal scheduled service: he caught up with us at lunch. Two more also appeared at the same time, having got a train an hour earlier so as to enjoy a more leisurely pace. So we were 11 happy campers in all.

    Having encountered some of the sporting fraternity on the train out, we encountered more late morning: a dozen gentlemen with firearms standing apart from each other in a field with their backs to us. We walked quietly across the field behind them, happily escaping before the birds arrived.

    Otherwise this was an uneventful and fairly flat walk on a cloudy day. The cloud did break at the end, but only in time for a muted sunset. The scenery was pleasant without being particularly memorable, the stark missile silos on Greenham Common excepted.

    Lunch was at the Travellers Whatsit, a hearty meal which our over-indulged post-Christmas stomachs struggled to absorb. Tea at the Rowbarge consisted of vast pots of tea that could not quite be finished in the rush for the 4.19 train. This turned out to be packed with racegoers and a noisy contingent of what appeared to be football fans. The fast train from Reading to Paddington was similarly full, but mercifully quieter.

Wed, 11-Jan-17
Wednesday Walk – Moonlight Special (hopefully) with Some Gentle Climbs and Greenham Common, a Re-naturalized former WW II and NATO Airfield
SWC Walk 34: Newbury Racecourse to Woolhampton with possible extension to Aldermaston and Theale

Distance: 10.6 miles or 17 km for those more metrically minded (12.6 miles (20km) or 16.6 miles (27 km) with the Aldermaston and Theale extensions, respectively)
Difficulty: 2 out of 10

Train: Take the 10:30 AM Great Western train to Bristol from London Paddington, changing at Reading (arrive 10:55; depart 11:12), arriving at Newbury Racecourse at 11:38. Return trains (all requiring a change at Reading unless otherwise noted) from Midgham (Woolhampton) are at 15:24; 15:29; 16:24; 16:29; 17:23; 17:29; 18:24; 18:31; 19:29; 20:08; 21:02; 21:34; 22:24; from Aldermaston at 15:28; 16:28; 17:27; 18:06 (no change); 18:28; 19:25; 20:12; 21:05; 21:38; 22:28; and from Theale at 17:05 (no change); 17:32; 18:11 (no change); 18:33; 19:06 (no change); 19:20; 20:24 (no change); 21:10; 21:43; 22:33 . Buy a day return to Newbury Racecourse.
This interesting walk takes you across Greenham Common a former WW II and NATO airstrip that has since been left to return to nature. It is a gentle outing with a few minor climbs and views across Berkshire. ALSO, as Wednesday is just one day before the full moon, if the weather conditions smile on us, it may be possible to extend the walk with a late afternoon/early evening moonlit stretch along the Avon & Kennet Canal to Aldermaston (2 miles/3km-ish) and eventually Theale (6 miles/10km-ish). You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

The recommended lunch pub is the Travellers Friend (01189 713 156) in Crookham Common (5.2 miles/8.5 km into the walk). Tea can be had at the very pleasant Rowbarge Inn near Midgham Station. If doing the extension, the Butt Inn at Aldermaston Wharf and various pubs near Theale Station (mostly clustered on the High Street) can also quench your thirst...

Enjoy the walk!
  • 09-Jan-17

    Memories of the 1983 CND demo, that formed a human chain for 14 miles between the Greenham Common Peace Camp (cruise missiles) and Aldermaston (nuclear weapons research).

  • 11-Jan-17

    11 plus one dog on this walk, on a fairly sunny day. Interesting to see the former Greenham Common Airbase, so notorious in the 1980s, now returned to nature. Otherwise a gentle walk over fields: pleasant if unexceptional.

    We were the only customers at the pub, which produced passable food quickly and was reasonably friendly. The Rowbarge was cosy for tea.

    Excitement rose at the end of the walk because the sky was still clear and a big nearly full moon rose confidently over a lake. This inspired all but one to do the extension to Aldermaston - a record number for an SWC moonlight walk. It was a less straightforward than expected walk along the canal, where we got lost at one point, but an entrancing expedition nevertheless. Five or six of us went to the Aldermaston pub before an 8pm train home.