West Ilsley, tucked amongst the rolling landscape of the Berkshire Downs, was the original home of the Morland Brewery. John Morland, a local farmer, started brewing his much-sought-after ale here in 1711, though the business eventually moved to Abingdon in 1887 and was bought by Greene King in
2000. Along the Main Street is the old village school, rectory and church. All Saints Church underwent major alterations in the 1870s, though the underlying fabric of the church is much older. Inside there is a fine carved wood Jacobean pulpit along with a rood screen and cross.
The chalk downs with their soft, springy turf, coupled with the free-draining nature of the soil that ensures the ground does not get too ‘heavy’ during the wetter winter months, makes the chalk grassland around West Ilsley ideal horse-training terrain; well-known horse trainers, Mick Channon (West Ilsley Stables) and Denis Coakley (Keeper’s Stables), both train their horses in the area.
The final leg of our visit heads back through West Ilsley, passing the perfectly located Harrow pub that looks out over the village cricket pitch and pond.
(SU473825) – Start facing the church and turn left, following Main Street for 150m. Shortly after the right-hand curve in the road and before The Maltings on the left, turn right across the road to a track opposite; this is Church Way. Follow the track,
Steve Davison heads to West Ilsley for a dog (and horse) friendly five and a half mile journey over the North Wessex
Downs, which can be adapted for cyclists or walkers
ABOVE: Looking back along the first part of the routeBELOW: The Harrow pub at West Ilsley is the perfect destination for a well-earned break