View from Wayfarer's Walk, near Inkpen

Inkpen Wild Walk, Berkshire

I’m pretty sure the best antidote to a dismal grey day is a walk in the countryside. Last weekend we ignored the clouds and drizzle and headed to Inkpen in Berkshire for a walk that combined a macabre gibbet and spring crocuses!

We followed a shortened version of the Inkpen Wild Walk, a walk designed by the local wildlife trust that links two of their reserves. Our 6 mile route started at Inkpen Common, the longer alternative being a 10 mile walk which joins up to Kintbury railway station.

Inkpen Common nature reserve
Inkpen Common nature reserve

At Inkpen Common villagers once had the rights to graze livestock and burn the gorse in their ovens. Nowadays the gorse sits alongside other heathland plants and the reserve is a haven for reptiles. However the likelihood of spotting lizards and snakes sunbathing on a cold March day was pretty minimal.

Along the Wayfarer's Walk
Along the Wayfarer’s Walk

We puffed our way up Walbury Hill, the highest hill in Berkshire and the starting point for two long distance walks, the Test Way and the Wayfarer’s Walk. A wide chalk track led us along the Hampshire Downs. The fields either side were full of sheep although we looked in vain for any lambs.


Combe Gibbet

Combe Gibbet, at the top of Gallows Down, is a notorious local attraction. The original gibbet was erected in 1676 to hang adulterers George Broomham and Dorothy Newman. They had murdered Broomham’s wife and son after their illicit affair had been discovered. Today’s gibbet is actually a replica but you can still imagine the crowds gathering to watch the hanging.

From the gibbet we continued along Wayfarer’s Walk, taking in the amazing views and snacking on biscuits, before heading down steeply from Inkpen Hill. There was plenty of evidence of spring arriving; buds on twigs, plants peeking through the soil and stinging nettles starting to grow again. We found a muddy puddle with some great animal and bird tracks which we attempted to identify.

Inkpen Crocus Field Nature Reserve
Inkpen Crocus Field Nature Reserve

Inkpen Crocus Field Nature Reserve

The second reserve of the day was Inkpen Crocus Field Nature Reserve. Accessed via Pottery Lane (Inkpen was once home to several potteries) we first had to walk past a number of large and imposing houses; property envy was rife!

The meadow has the largest wild crocus population in Britain. Although we visited at peak viewing time (March) I was a little disappointed with the number of crocuses. I was expecting a field of purple but the flowers were rather more sparse. Perhaps my expectations were too high or maybe it hasn’t been a great year for the crocus. Crocuses aside, the meadows must be idyllic on a sunny summer day.

Pooh sticks in the wood
Pooh sticks in the wood

The drizzle started so the last mile was walked pretty quickly. There was still time to throw a few twigs into a woodland stream, and admire an amazing treehouse in a back garden.

Despite some initial moans from the kids (we’ve got to walk 6 miles?) we had a great afternoon walking and I’m glad we made the effort to get out rather than lazing around at home.

36 thoughts on “Inkpen Wild Walk, Berkshire”

  1. Bit of a shame with the crocuses. Bit like my dragging N to see bluebells in the woods near us, and it being rubbish. Looks like a nice walk, although it’s going to be a few years before N will walk that far.

  2. It looks like a lovely walk, such a shame that the crocuses. If nothing else it gives you an excuse to go and explore the area again. Even though there were complaints at the beginning the kids look like they’re enjoying their time exploring. Thanks for linking up with me over on Country Kids.

    1. Thanks Fiona. We’ve walked there once before in the summer and it’s a lovely area to explore. If I could find a local tea shop that would be even better.

  3. It sounds like a lovely walk. My kids usually complain at the idea of the length of a walk and then get into it, spotting interesting things and simply chatting. Before they know it we’re back and they admit it was fun. I agree it’s a great way to spend a weekend afternoon rather than just mosying at home.

    1. Mine are exactly the same, a whinge first as I drag them away from whatever technology they’re using but they almost always enjoy the walk.

    2. Hi Phoebe, my kids to a tee! Their default would be to remain at home with their technology so I definitely have to make the effort.

    1. I’ve walked it once before in the sun and there was a very handily placed ice cream van up near the gibbet. Wasn’t there when then we visited last week though 🙁

  4. Hi Christine, I’m sure I can smell the fresh air as I read your post. The views look typically English (meant in a positive way). The first image in your post is quite breathtaking!

    It’s a shame there weren’t more crocus to see, a carpet of purple crocus would have made good contrast against the grey skies.

    I much prefer the entertainment of today as public hangings really don’t do it for me….


    1. There was a bracing wind along the top of the Downs on the day of our visit so the air was definitely fresh!

    1. Thanks Jess. I’m looking forward to some more spring colour, can’t wait for the leaves to be back on the trees again.

    1. Thanks Sara. I feel a bit guilty that we stopped to eat biscuits under it, probably not the best choice for a picnic spot (but very popular)

    1. Thanks Sharon. I would have preferred blue skies but actually the greyness helps with the atmospheric feel of the photo.

  5. Wow ! That is an amazing view.We love long walks to see wild flowers, we usually go miles without realising it.Popping over from Country Kids.

    1. Hi Aly, I love wild flower walks too although I’m useless at remembering to bring any ID books with me.

    1. It is huge up close – it was built in such a prominent place so that everyone from around the area could see it and be aware of the punishment that would befall them if they committed a similar crime.

  6. What a great walk! Plenty to see, despite the disappointing crocuses.

    I am so longing for the moment I can drag the kids at a reasonably brisk pace around the countryside. We’ve managed longer than I was expecting recently, but at a frustratingly slow amble. I dread to think how long six miles would take us.

    I love that first picture too – stunning view there.

    1. I remember those days, when a walk would have to be around 100 metres long! I think that when kids get to about 5 years they can suddenly manage longer distances and their speed isn’t too slow.

    1. I think you could quite easily break this one down into 3 separate walks – two exploring the nature reserves and one up at the gibbet. Maybe something to consider?

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