Saturday Walkers Club

Aldermaston to Woolhampton via Frilsham Walk

West Berkshire Downs: ancient woodlands, commons, pretty villages, historical pubs, chalk streams, water meadows, heathland, finishes via landscaped park or the Kennet canal.

Length 22.7 km (14.1 mi), of which 4.1 km (2.5 mi) on tarmac or concrete. Cumulative ascent/descent: 430m. For a longer and a shorter walk, see below Walk options.
Toughness 7 out of 10 Time: 5 hours 15 minutes walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 8 ½ hours.
Map OS Explorer Map: 159 (Reading, Wokingham & Pangbourne) & 158 (Newbury & Hungerford). OS Landranger Map: 174 (Newbury & Wantage) & 175 (Reading & Windsor)

This walk explores a surprisingly quiet part of the commuter area that is West Berkshire, less than an hour from Central London. It is an undulating landscape with some fine views over unspoilt countryside - the West Berkshire Downs, which are part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and consist of a mix of ancient woodlands, commons, fields and pretty villages with pleasant, historical pubs.

The route passes through the chalk stream river valleys of the Kennet, the Bourne and the Pang, where you'll also find some evidence of traditional water meadows. A long section of the walk leads through the elevated Bucklebury Common, one of the largest commons in Southern England. In the main this consists of a variety of woods, but you’ll also walk through one of Berkshire's largest heathlands and see part of a famous Avenue of Oaks.

At the end there is a choice of finishes either through the landscaped Midgham Park or along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Carrying map and compass is recommended, as there are plenty of paths in the woods.

Walk Options

An optional westerly extension leads through more fascinating, undulating woods and the impressive Iron Age hillfort site of Grimsbury Castle. This longer version of the walk adds 4.2 km/2.6 mi and 68m ascent, and is rated 8/10 (and a diversion to a late lunch stop in Hermitage adds another 2.3 km).

Buses 101/104/105 (Newbury to Tilehurst Triangle) run through Upper Bucklebury and Chapel Row, about every two hours Mon-Sat (last bus mid-afternoon). This gets you to Theale High Street, which is a 5 mins walk from Theale Station (on the same line, and closer to London than Aldermaston).

Buses 6/6A (Newbury Bus Station Circular) run through Hermitage, the late lunch stop on the extended walk, Mon-Sat only though. Newbury is further down the line than Midgham.

For a shorter walk (which also has an option for an additional shortcut), with the same start and finish, but a completely different middle part, try SWC 117 Aldermaston to Woolhampton (via Stanford Dingley).


Both stations are on the Berkshire and Hampshire line from Reading to Newbury (and on to Bedwyn and Taunton). Journey times are from 49 minutes Mon-Fri (hourly), 58 mins Sat (hourly) and 55 minutes Sun (two-hourly). Change at Reading, with the Newbury train usually departing from Platform 1. Midgham station is one stop further from London with a journey time from 58 minutes.

Saturday Walkers' Club

Take the train closest to 9.30 hours.

Lunch and Tea
  • The Six Bells, The Green, Beenham, RG7 5NX (T: 01189 713 368). This is a possible very early lunch stop. Located 2.8 km from the start of the walk.
  • The Blackbird Cafe, Chapel Row, Bucklebury, RG7 6PD (T: 01189 712 332). This is a possible early lunch stop. Located 5.1 km from the start of the walk.
  • The Bladebone at Bucklebury, Chapel Row, Bucklebury, RG7 6PD (T: 01189 714 000). This is a possible early lunch stop. Located 5.1 km from the start of the walk.
  • The Pot Kiln, Frilsham, Yattendon, RG18 0XX (T: 01635 201 366). This is the recommended lunch stop on the full walk. Located 9.7 km from the start of the walk.
  • The Fox Inn, High Street, Hermitage, Thatcham, RG18 9RB (T:01635 200 772). This is the recommended lunch stop on the extended walk. Located – 1.2 km off-route – 15.4 km from the start of the walk.
  • The White Horse of Hermitage, Newbury Road, Hermitage, Thatcham, RG18 9TB (T: 01635 200 325). This is a possible lunch stop on the extended walk. Located – 1.8 km off-route – 16.0 km from the start of the walk.
  • The Cottage Inn, 26 Broad Lane, Upper Bucklebury, RG7 6QJ (T: 01635 864 544). This is a possible early tea stop. Located 480m off-route, 5.9 km from the end of the walk.
  • The Coach & Horses, Bath Road, Midgham, RG7 5UX (01189 713 384). This is a possible early tea stop. Located 3.3 km from the end of the walk.
  • The Angel Inn, Bath Road, Woolhampton, RG7 5RT (01189 713 307). Under new management as of 03/16, this is a possible tea stop.
  • The Rowbarge, Station Road, Woolhampton, RG7 5SH (01189 712 213). Food served 12.00-22.00 Mon-Sat and 12.00-21.30 Sun. This is the suggested tea stop.

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Out: (not a train station)

Back: (not a train station)

By Car

Start: RG7 6PU | Directions at 4pm

Finish: RG7 5SE | [Directions] at 10am


Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234



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Walk Directions  

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

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