Spring Walks

Nature is finally waking up for spring, and blossom growing in streets, parks and gardens is a beautiful and welcoming sight. 

Spending time to dwell on nature can improve your wellbeing.  

Research shows that just 20 minutes could help to improve your mood. But only six per cent of adults and seven per cent of children take the time to celebrate seasonal events such as the first day of spring.

Take a different route on your daily exercise to see if you can spot blossom in your neighbourhood and embrace the turn of the season.

Celebrate the season wherever you are and connect with nature to lift your spirits, even if it’s just for a moment or so.

Greenham and Crookham Commons form the largest continuous tract of open heath in Berkshire.

It is special for the mix of purple and pink heathers and golden yellow gorse, wildflower-filled grasslands and expanses of bare gravels - all easily accessible to visitors.

There are a wide variety of routes.

The main tracks across the common are level and accessible for those with limited walking ability, cyclists and horse-riders.

Other way marked routes are colour coded and cross varying terrain.

Under effective control
Please keep dogs on a lead on the main common during the bird nesting season (1 March - 31 July)

Hundreds of thousands of wild crocuses fill this Berkshire meadow each spring - but the delights don't stop there.

Inkpen Crocus Field is a pasture bordered by gardens on the north and east sides and sloping down to a brook to the south-west, where it rises again beyond.

From late February to early April this field is awash with the purple and white of more than 400,000 blooms - Britain's largest wild display of spring crocuses.

Their small heads, some plain, some striped, poke out of the ground at varying times, giving the visitor a window of more than a month to enjoy the flowers.

The dark purple spring crocuses are distributed all over the first field, with a few having established themselves established in the grass beyond the stream, where you may also see small clumps of primrose in flower under scrub.

The densest crocus colony can be found along the eastern side of the field.

Take care for you will find crocuses beneath your feet wherever you walk.

One local legend has it that it was the 12th-century Crusaders who brought them back from central Europe.

Others believe that they are garden escapees that have established themselves over the last 200 years.

The crocus field slopes down to a spring-fed stream, then rises to become fine meadowland rich with wild flowers and butterflies, an especially rare habitat in Berkshire.

Here you may see stalks of heath spotted-orchid with attractive white to purplish pink flower spikes. 

Alongside the orchids, oxeye daisies, scabious and knapweed can be seen swaying in the breeze attracting gatekeeper and ringlet butterflies.

One species of particular interest is the pignut - a relative of cow parsley. It grows from underground tubers commonly known as the 'nuts in May' gathered in a children's nursery rhyme.

Along the edge of the pasture an old hedgerow offers food and refuge to a host of warblers including blackcap, chiffchaff, lesser whitethroat and willow warbler.

These are often accompanied by flocks of finches and tits.

Sloping; rough underfoot, wet patches in winter; kissing gate.

Guide dogs only

Take a route used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers through ancient landscapes.

The Ridgeway National Trail passes through a surprisingly remote part of southern central England. From its start in the World Heritage Site of Avebury, it follows a ridge of chalk hills in a northeasterly direction for 87 miles (139 Km) to reach Ivinghoe Beacon lying to the northwest of London. Popularly known as ‘Britain’s oldest road’, The Ridgeway still follows the same route over the high ground used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. Today it is popular with walkers, runners, cyclists, horse riders and disabled people using mobility scooters.

West of the River Thames, The Ridgeway is a broad track passing through the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is often quite a distance from villages or towns.

Here you’ll experience wide, open views of rolling chalk downland and find many archaeological monuments close to the Trail including Stone Age long barrows, Bronze Age round barrows, Iron Age forts and the figures of white horses cut into the chalk.

East of the Thames, The Ridgeway travels through the more-wooded and intimate hills and valleys of the Chilterns AONB where, as well as further archaeological treasures, there are several nature reserves rich in the wildlife found in chalk grassland habitats.

In the Chilterns, The Ridgeway goes close to or through several villages and small towns where refreshments and other facilities are easily available.

There are route descriptions in the Further Information section of this website, proposing six sections/days for walkers to complete The Ridgeway.

Other variations are described in the itineraries and there are circular walks and rides to sample parts of the Trail.

Ideas for cyclists and horse riders to enjoy the Trail between Avebury and Goring-on-Thames are also set out on this website.

The Ridgeway can be enjoyed all year round, but spring through to autumn (March to November) probably provides the best views, the most wildlife and better surface conditions underfoot.

Early May is the best time to enjoy the bluebells that carpet many of the Chiltern woodlands, one of the treats for visitors to The Ridgeway.

The National Trail is very well way-marked so following the route is easy. 

But it is always a good idea to take a guidebook or map.

Travel a little under 10 miles south-west of Newbury town centre and you’ll find Combe Gibbet at the summit of the spectacular Inkpen Beacon.

A 7.6 metre high double gibbet standing in the middle of a neolithic long-barrow, Combe Gibbet was erected in 1676 to hang two locals found guilty of murder, although it is believed the current gibbet is the sixth replacement of the original.

As the warmer days draw closer, why not dust off the cobwebs by discovering Basildon Park in spring.

Choose a parkland walk to find fresh signs of spring, or discover spring bulbs starting to bloom in the gardens.

Parkland walks

Cheery buttercups and daffodils cover the parkland in spring. With four way-marked paths to choose from, there is plenty of opportunity to discover spring flowers blooming on a refreshing walk.

 Follow the green walk for the chance to see some impressive views of the mansion through the trees across the parkland, and follow the orange walk to find ancient trees.

On your way, look out for spring flowers such as violets, cowslip, cherry blossom and primroses. 

Bring your dog along to join in the enjoyment of warmer days arriving with spring.

Dogs are warmly welcomed and are free to wander the gardens and parkland on short leads.

The gardens are open to visitors every Monday throughout the year, including Bank Holidays, from 10.00am – 6.00pm April to October and 10.00am – 4.00pm November to March. 

Visitors do not need to book in advance (except to arrange a group tour.

The entrance fee is £5.00 but is free for children. RHS and NGS cardholders are entitled to free entry.

Please no picnics, ball games or dogs, except guide dogs.

Please note, Englefield House is a private residence and is not open to the public. 

The safety of visitors and staff remains a priority; we ask that visitors act with kindness and consideration to those around them and please only visit us if you are feeling well.

The entry fee will be payable into a secure box at the garden gate and visitors must use hand sanitiser, which will be provided, before paying.

Early spring shows the witch hazel, Camellias, Daphne bhoula ‘Jacquiline Postil’, snowdrops, aconites and daffodils begin to flower.

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