A long walk involving two uphill stretches. South Stoke – Mongewell Park – Watch Folly – South Stoke.
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) Leave the pub and turn right along The Street with some buildings including St Andrew’s Church located along it.
(1) After about 100m, turn left into Ferry Lane. After another 150m, branch left and follows signs to the River Thames, Ridgeway and North Stoke (3.5km). After about 300m you will reach the Thames and at this point you will see the Beetle and Wedge restaurant on the opposite side of the Thames. (The ferry ceased operation in the 1970s).
(2) Turn right through a gate and walk along the river bank on a well defined path (Ridgeway), passing St John the Baptist Church and Moulsford Preparatory School both visible on the opposite bank of the river. After about 1.2km go under a brick railway bridge. Continue straight ahead via a wooden gate alongside a meadow. Continue to follow the path along the Thames until you reach the small hamlet of Little Stoke.
(3) Continue along the same path, the ex Fairmile Mental Hospital buildings, now converted into flats and apartments, will be visible on the opposite bank. Continue to follow the Thames for 1km to North Stoke. The footpath ends at St Mary the Virgin Church at North Stoke. Walk through the churchyard, then along the Church Lane until the T junction with The Street.
(4) Then turn left and follow The Street through North Stoke. When the tarmac road ends, follow a broad track (Ridgeway), across the Springs Golf Course towards the Mongewell Estate.
(5) After about 1km, leave the track and turn right on to a footpath that crosses an open field. Walk past a row of houses on the left and then continue on up a slope pass a much larger house with a courtyard and the footpath bears right to exit the field onto B4009. Cross the road diagonally and take the footpath on the opposite side of the road that crosses another field to the A4074.
(6) Cross this major road with care and pick up the footpath on the other side of the road and follow the path to Sheepcote Farm. On approaching the farm, make a sharp left and right and walk through the farmyard and then pick up the footpath again across the field. Cross over Cox’s Lane and follow the track downhill.
(7) At the junction with a small lane turn right past some cottages (known as Forest Row) and walk along the lane for about 400m until you reach a T Junction. Cross straight over following the footpath opposite and after about 1km you will reach a red and white pole (marking an buried gas pipeline) close to the footpath at Drunken Bottom. After a further 250m cross over the road and continue on the footpath behind Larkstoke House and continue until you reach another small lane. Cross over the lane into a small copse where you find a small stone memorial. Leave the copse and follow the same footpath across the field until you reach the A4074.
(8) Cross the A4074 again with care and follow in the same direction picking up the footpath on the opposite of the road. Follow the path across a very chalky field around the side of the hill until you intersect with another footpath turn right on to this new footpath. As you walk up hill towards Watch Folly, you will notice on your left the Chiltern Aero-sports Centre and the two large green tanks part of a new Anaerobic Digester. At the top of the hill, pause to take in the view and in a small copse you will find another small memorial. Continue on the footpath down the hill until you reach the B4009 road.
(9) Cross the road and walk down the lane opposite until the lane makes a sharp right. Walk up to the entrance to Little Stoke Manor and turn left over the wall using the support stepping stones set in the wall. Follow the footpath alongside the fence and then over a stile. Walk through the field, cross another stile into the next field and walk towards the railway embankment.
(10) Go through the narrow tunnel under the railway line and on emerging from the tunnel, turn left on to a broad grass track that starts to curve away from the railway line. When you reach a fork in the footpath bear right on to a narrow path between some houses before emerging on to Ferry Lane. Turn right into the lane and walk for about 50m along the lane before turning left at (1) into The Street. Follow the road pass St Andrews Church back to the pub.(D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 154ft - Perch & Pike
1 : mi 0.16 - alt. 154ft - Ferry Lane
2 : mi 0.44 - alt. 144ft - River Thames
3 : mi 1.77 - alt. 154ft - Ex Fairmile Mental Hospital buildings
4 : mi 2.53 - alt. 157ft - The Street
5 : mi 3.38 - alt. 164ft - Footpath
6 : mi 3.84 - alt. 269ft - A4074
7 : mi 5.01 - alt. 269ft - Junction
8 : mi 6.64 - alt. 236ft - A4074
9 : mi 8.09 - alt. 187ft - B4009
10 : mi 8.87 - alt. 151ft - Tunnel
D/A : mi 9.48 - alt. 154ft - Perch & Pike
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
St Mary the Virgin Church is 13th century with some 14th century paintings. Dame Clare Butt, a celebrated English contralto, is buried in the churchyard.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.