Pete's Walks - Berkshire Loop

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

Day 2 27/04/11 Cookham to Burchett's Green (7.3 miles each way, approximately)

Parked in car park (free!) on the common in Cookham.

Rather surprisingly, it's been almost six months since I walked the first part of the Berkshire Loop. I hadn't intended to leave it this long before continuing, but I was waiting all winter for a really nice Saturday, and it just never happened. I have taken this week off from work (just three working days, between Easter and another four-day weekend due to the Royal Wedding and the May Day Bank Holiday) and have finally got some good weather.

The traffic on the motorways (M1/M25/M40) was fine this morning, so it took me just 55 minutes to reach Cookham and I started walking at 10am. From the car park I first had to cross a meadow to reach the Thames, then go right a hundred yards or so along the riverside path to reach the point where I finished last time.

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[1] The Thames at Cookham

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[2] The path on the edge of Winter Hill golf course

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[3] The path across the golf course

I turned round, and followed the river as it left Cookham [1]. Just after a bend to the right, I left the river, going left across a narrow section of a large meadow. The Berkshire Loop then turns right, following the edge of Winter Hill golf course for three or four hundred yards. On reaching an area of trees, I turned left up a few steps, the path then emerging on another side of the golf course and  heading gently uphill [2]. The path passed through an area of scrub where I saw some Cowslips, and further on I passed some Cuckooflowers and some Dovesfoot Cranesbill.

At a path junction I turned right, crossing a railway bridge and continuing on ahead along a grassy track across the golf course [3]. This went across two or three fairways and then through the course's maintenance yard. Going straight on, the path passed the golf club's practise range on the left (some of the shots from there just reached the path, judging by the golf balls I passed). the path then continued uphill alongside a left-hand hedge, with more of the golf course to my right. At the top of the hill I went through a fence gap and turned right. Soon there was an impressive view back right, over the golf course to the Thames at Cookham with Cliveden beyond [4]. On finally reaching the corner of a large meadow, I went through a gate to reach Winter Hill, with another fine view over the Thames ahead of me [5].

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[4] Close up shot from near the golf course, looking back over Cookham Bridge to Cliveden

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[5] View over the Thames Valley from where the path reaches Winter Hill

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[6] Path along the top of Winter Hill

I turned left along a footpath running along the top of the hill, initially through some bushes but soon in an open grassy area. This was a wonderful section of the walk [6], the scrub-covered hillside sloping steeply down on my right, with great views over the Thames Valley towards Bourne End and Marlow [7]. There were more Cuckooflowers here and other wildflowers, and on the way back I'd have a close-up view of a Red Kite, one of three or four I'd see on this walk.  Further on the path became more enclosed as it joined a gravel track, then I took a permissive path on the right, which continued to contour round the hillside [8] and still gave tremendous views over this section of the Thames Valley [9].

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[7] View across the Thames Valley from Winter Hill

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[8] Permissive path continuing from Winter Hill

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[9] Another view across the Thames Valley

The path ended close to a lane junction, where the Berkshire Loop takes a gravel drive past some houses. The drive soon turns right past an old barn, then when the drive turns right again I continued ahead on a path that soon joined a gravelly farm track. I passed a group of elderly walkers here, and spotted a Red Kite low over the field on my right. The track then descended a small hill (where I saw my second Red Admiral butterfly of the year) to reach Cookham Dean Lane [10], on the edge of the village of that name (the childhood home of Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the willows). I turned right into the village, then left at a crossroads, before taking a steepish alley on the left, I crossed another village lane, then continued uphill along another alley (lots of Ramsons or Wild Garlic here) to reach the village green. I followed a gravel track to the right, around part of the green to a pub sign (It's now called Sanctum on the green). Two lady horse riders who passed me as I took a swig of water here were very pleasant and friendly.

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[10] Track heading down to Cookham Dean Lane

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[11] Green at Cookham Dean

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[12] The path from Cookham Dean

A footpath continued immediately right of the pub, through an area of trees and bushes and then along a fence beside a field of green corn [12]. At the bottom of a valley, I turned left along a long gravel drive - the guide book mentions a turkey farm hereabouts, and I saw signs referring to turkeys but there were certainly no birds visible anywhere. After a while the gravel drive became a grass track and ended at a gate by a road junction. I went straight on down a lane for a couple of hundred yards, then turned left on a narrow path. This went uphill through trees, continuing along a gravel drive. When the drive turned left, a bridleway went straight on into a small wood, immediately turning right [13] and emerging on a corner of Cookham Dean common  [14].

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[13] Approaching Cookham Dean Common

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[14] Cookham Dean Common

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[15] Path on Cookham Dean Common

I followed a path along the edge of the common, alternating between open grassy areas and three small areas of trees jutting out from the hedgerow (and then wood) on my left [15] - one of these areas was the only muddy bit of the whole walk. On reaching the corner of the common, a pleasant track [16] led on to a road junction where Choke Lane met Winter Hill Road (on the way back, I saw a car slow almost to a stop, in order to avoid a Muntjac deer in the road!). Across the lane a path led into woodland, where there were many bluebells [17,18]. I heard a Cuckoo here, and also the drilling of a woodpecker. After a few hundred yards I reached the garden fence of a large white house, where I turned right and followed the house's drive to Winter Hill road.

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[16] Approaching Choke Lane

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[17] The path in the wood after Choke Lane

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[18] The path in the wood after Choke Lane

Across the road I turned left on a parallel permissive bridleway [19], then turned right beside a row of cottages. The path took me through more woodland for a short distance, then went left and followed another drive to reach a road by The Golden Ball pub. I crossed a lane and then a main road (the A308 between Marlow and Maidenhead, which was a short distance to my left), and continued down a short drive to reach a corner of the vast Pinkneys Green [20]. A path continued close to the right-hand edge of this flat and very open common, then I forked left across the common to reach the opposite corner - I spotted my first two Small Copper butterflies of the year here.

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[19] Permissive bridleway beside Winter Hill Road

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[20] Pinkneys Green

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[21] Path just beyond Bakers Lanee

Across a lane, I followed a gravel driveway a short distance, then a short path through an area of scrub, then went left in front of some cottages to reach Bakers Lane. I went a few yards right and across a road junction to reach another area of open common. A path crossed this [21], the open grass area soon giving way to another area of scrub where the path turned fractionally left and followed a long grass 'ride' [22] (I would sit on a log here to eat my sandwiches on the way back).

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[22]The path beyond Bakers Lane

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[23] Path through Maidenhead Thicket

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[24] The path to Burchett's Green

Across another road, a path led through a section of a large wood called Maidenhead Thicket [23]. A path soon forked right to descend steeply to a private drive going under an underpass below the A404 (I recognised the road number, I crossed it near Burrough's Grove on the Chiltern Way). Beyond the underpass, the path rose equally steeply up the opposite side, then went diagonally across a grassy field [24] to reach the far end of a line of Chestnut trees. I turned right there and soon reached a farm track that continued on past a large field of oil-seed rape [25] to reach a farm in the village of Burchett's Green. I went a few yards left along a lane, then turned right on a woodland path [26] that soon took me to the main road through the village, next to the school on my left [27]. This was as far as I was going today, so I turned round and started to make my way back.

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[25] The path to Burchett's Green

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[26] Woodland path at Burchett's Green

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[27] The road at Burchett's Green, where I turned round

It remained a very sunny day as I retraced my steps back to Cookham, with a stiff breeze keeping the temperatures down nicely. I really enjoyed the walk back, not having to worry about navigating nor needing to take any more photographs. Crossing the huge open common of Pinkneys Green and the scenic path along from Winter Hill were especially pleasant sections. It was 3.05pm when I got back to my car, the fifteen mile walk (including the off-route bit to the car park) having taken just under five hours.

This was an excellent walk, one of the most enjoyable that I have done recently. Starting beside the river Thames, then enjoying the scenic views from Winter Hill, continuing through small woods and over several  largely open commons, it was a varied and thoroughly pleasant route. There were surprisingly few sections on field paths, probably fewer than any other walk I've done. Of course, the conditions could hardly have been better - just about perfect weather, and all the delights of Spring with numerous wildflowers and butterflies to be seen. I'm now looking forward to walking the next section of the Berkshire Loop, and certainly won't be waiting another six months to do it!