Berkshire Walk – February 2017

Head to Chieveley for a dog-friendly wander through the North Wessex Downs AONB to the north of Newbury.

The rather grand Old Vicarage on the High Street in Chieveley
The rather grand Old Vicarage on the High Street in Chieveley

From the parking area we head east down School Lane for a while before meandering through fields to arrive a Chieveley. Here we take a short loop through the village which has a pub – Ye Olde Red Lion – along Green Lane and a number of fine 18th century red-brick houses, including the Old Vicarage along the High Street.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin at Chieveley
The Church of St Mary the Virgin at Chieveley

The village, known as ‘Cifanlea’, was mentioned as far back at 951, when King Edred granted land to his servant Wulfric; the village name probably means field or clearing of ‘Cifa’, or maybe is has something to do with chives, as in the plant. The manor was later given to the abbey at Abingdon until it passed to the king in the 16th century. There was a Saxon church hereabouts, but that has long since gone, the present church – St Mary the Virgin – dates from the early 13th century, though with lots of alterations over the centuries.

Heading west along New Road (track) towards the junction with Gidley Lane
Heading west along New Road (track) towards the junction with Gidley Lane

After exploring the village, we head north through open fields before going west along New Road – which is actually a track – to a junction with Gidley Lane; this was once an old drove road to the market at East Ilsley. Here you have to decide between the long or short walk; the latter heads south along the byway back to the car park.

North Heath Common
North Heath Common

The longer walk continues westwards to reach Chapel Farm before heading south to North Heath Common, where a short detour leads to the unusually named Crab and Boar pub. From here, it’s a short walk back to the start; published in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life, February 2017.

The Crab and Boar pub near Chieveley
The Crab and Boar pub near Chieveley