Berkshire Life - - Cycling -

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

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