Sunday, 26 September 2021

Lengthy walk to the pub

APART from my little walkabouts searching for botanical rarities, I love to take a long stroll every now and again.

I would recommend any able-bodied person to do the same as this simple activity is of great benefit to physical and mental wellbeing.

We are very fortunate to have some wonderful rights of way on our doorstep here in the Henley area. I have a favourite route that I follow through the seasons from my home in Emmer Green all the way to Maidensgrove Common and then on to Henley, but more of that later.

After leaving home, a short walk along the Peppard Road takes me to Kiln Road, Clayfield Copse and the adjacent Blackhouse Wood, some areas of which are classified as ancient woodland, having had minimal human management since the 1600s or even earlier. Early purple orchids, crab apples and wild pear grow alongside goldilocks and pendulous sedge here.

Leaving the woodland behind, a track through Littlestead Green takes me through to Dunsden Green with the Loddon brewery and the village’s Wilfred Owen connections.

Passing by Chapman’s Farm, I come to Tagg Lane, which is sometimes difficult to negotiate due to the puddled clay underfoot. It leads to Binfield Heath with its chocolate box public house named the Bottle and Glass.

Turn left at the pub and you will enter Bones Lane that heads towards Crowsley. Follow this and you will discover Kings Farm Lane by a building named Old Place. After continuing northwards you encounter Shepherds Green, a truly beautiful hamlet. Sadly, the Green Tree pub was closed many years ago. A great shame.

Moving on and crossing Rocky Lane, the route leads me through the woods of Highmoor to my first obstacle, the Nettlebed/Henley road that I need to cross on my way to Crocker End. Skirting Soundess House and the Warburg nature reserve, my target is near.

There are lively hares around here and I wish that I had their boundless energy as I approach the steep hill that will bring me to the Five Horseshoes public house for a beer and a bite. Once happily sated, there are another five or so miles back to Henley so I take my time and on arrival I decide to get the bus back home.

Nevertheless, it was something to stop by and revisit the ruin of St James’s Church at Bix Bottom and then later to pass through Lambridge Wood, the golf course and then enter one of Henley’s welcoming hostelries, if only for half an hour. Oh well!

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