Ashamp­stead & Yat­ten­don

Berkshire Life - - Front Page - WORDS & PHO­TOS: Steve Dav­i­son

Fol­low our walk guide and visit a brew­ery for a bite to eat

We’re head­ing to the west of Read­ing for a wan­der through his­toric Ashamp­stead and Yat­ten­don, home of the West Berk­shire Brew­ery

This month’s walk me­an­ders through fairly level farm­land to the west of Read­ing and vis­its the in­ter­est­ing vil­lages of Ashamp­stead and Yat­ten­don; the lat­ter be­ing home to the award win­ning West Berk­shire Brew­ery.

The vil­lage of Ashamp­stead, men­tioned at the time of the Nor­man Con­quest, when Wil­liam the Con­queror gave the lands to Wil­liam FitzOs­born, is home to the pic­turesque late 12th cen­tury St Cle­ments Church with its wooden bell tur­ret.

How­ever, the real trea­sure of this lit­tle Nor­man church is to be found in­side, where the walls are dec­o­rated with frag­ments of 13th-cen­tury me­dieval wall paint­ings. Those on the north wall of the nave de­pict re­li­gious scenes from the birth of Christ, whilst on the chan­cel arch can be seen the re­mains of the Last Judge­ment, or Doom, with the fig­ure of Christ and the Apos­tles and souls be­ing ad­mit­ted to Heaven (left) or dragged down to Hell (right). The paint­ings were un­cov­ered in 1895 hav­ing been plas­tered over fol­low­ing the 16th­cen­tury Ref­or­ma­tion.

Once past the church the walk heads to­wards Casey Fields

Farm Shop be­fore head­ing south through fields to ar­rive at Yat­ten­don.

Like Ashamp­stead, Yat­ten­don was men­tioned in the Domes­day Book when the manor was held by ‘Wil­liam son of An­sculf’. Step in­side the 15th-cen­tury Church of St Peter and St Paul to see a memo­rial to Sir John Nor­reys (d.1466), a dis­tin­guished sol­dier in the reign of El­iz­a­beth I and lord of the manor who built the present church; the Nor­reys fam­ily, and their de­scen­dants, held the manor of Yat­ten­don un­til the 19th cen­tury.

On the north wall of the nave there is a tablet (Latin in­scrip­tion) com­mem­o­rat­ing Har­riet Molesworth, her son Robert Seymour Bridges (18441930) and his wife Mon­ica Water­house; Bridges, a doc­tor by pro­fes­sion, be­came the Poet Lau­re­ate in 1913 and his works in­clude Lon­don Snow.

Tucked within the vil­lage, to the south of the church, is the award win­ning West Berk­shire Brew­ery. Orig­i­nally es­tab­lished

in 1995 in a barn be­side the Pot Kiln at Fril­sham, the brew­ery, which of­fers guided tours, is home to the Tap­room and Kitchen cafe (www.wb­brew.com).

From Yat­ten­don the route heads north through fields and woods back to Ashamp­stead.

THE ROUTE

SU565769) – Face green and turn right to cross­roads. Go down Church Lane for 100m, turn right through a gate to the church­yard. Fol­low path left of the church and leave through a gate. Head across fields sep­a­rated by gates and turn left along the con­crete track. Just be­fore the farm shop turn right, fol­low­ing a track through trees. Con­tinue to way­marker. Turn left across the field to reach trees on the far side. Go through a gate and fol­low the left-hand field edge.

SU554758) – Go through gates ei­ther side of a track and con­tinue be­tween the trees and hedge. Go through an­other gate and fol­low hedge on the right. At the field cor­ner go left for 75m still fol­low­ing the hedge and turn right through a gate.

Head di­ag­o­nally left across the cor­ner of the field, cross the bound­ary into the next field and turn right fol­low­ing the right-hand field mar­gin for 200m. At the way­marker, head across the field, pass­ing a wooden elec­tric­ity pole. Cross a stile and con­tinue through the pad­dock to an­other stile. Bear left to a junc­tion in Yat­ten­don.

(SU554758) – Keep left, pass­ing The Royal Oak and vil­lage hall to a foot­path sign. For the brew­ery turn right across the road and fol­low Church Lane (if not vis­it­ing the brew­ery just turn left through the church­yard). Keep left at T-junc­tion for 300m and turn left to the Brew­ery; re­trace the route and en­ter the church­yard, be­fore leav­ing through a gate in the far cor­ner. Con­tinue be­tween trees and hedge to end of Oaken Copse.

(SU557750) – Keep ahead through the field for 600m on right-hand bound­ary to a junc­tion in far right cor­ner; Calves­leys Farm is to the right. Keep ahead, with wood on the left and field to the right. Fol­low field edge round to the right (way­marker) for 250m. Shortly be­fore the field cor­ner, turn left at way­marker and head through the trees to a track. Turn right along the dip in the field to Pin­fold Lane. Turn left up the track, later be­com­ing Church Lane and con­tinue past St Cle­ments Church. On reach­ing the cross­roads passed ear­lier turn right back to the start.

St Cle­ments Church atAshamp­stead

ABOVE: The Royal Oak at Yat­ten­don BE­LOW: The tap­room and kitchen at West Berk­shire Brew­ery spe­cialises in sim­ple, lo­callysourced food and, nat­u­rally, some fine ales!

The route head­ing through fields just af­ter pass­ing the church in Ashamp­stead

The pop­u­la­tion of bad­gers in the Yat­ten­don area has in­creased in re­cent years

Roe deer, and munt­jac, are a reg­u­lar sight in the Yat­ten­don area

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