With its close proximity to Reading and easy access by train or bus this circular walk is great for a day out in the West Berkshire countryside. Combining Kennet & Avon Canal towpath, country lanes and open fields, the six mile circuit also includes three excellent country pubs: The Rowbarge at Woolhampton; The Butt Inn at Aldermaston Wharf; and The Hind’s Head at Aldermaston Village…
The walk can be started at any one of the three pubs where ample parking is available however for a true Fueled by Beer experience take the train to either Midgham (for the Rowbarge) or Aldermaston (for the Butt Inn). Both pubs are a short walk from their respective station. To complete the circuit allow between 2 ½ to 3 hours walk time. For the purposes of this post we start at The Rowbarge and go clockwise.
Rowbarge to Butt Inn (2.2 miles)
At the swing bridge take the towpath in the direction of Aldermaston Lock. This section of the walk is the easiest overall being essentially flat except for a couple of bridges where the towpath switches to the opposite side of the canal then back again. This section is part of National Cycle Route 4 but as an unsegregated shared-use path, pedestrians have right of way over cyclists. After reaching Aldermaston Lock leave the towpath at the drawbridge and turn right to the Butt Inn.
Butt Inn to Hind’s Head (1.9 miles)
Head back towards the canal but at Swan Drive cross the A340 roadway (can be busy – be careful) and enter the public park (The Fallows); a short cut to Mill Lane. Go directly across the park, taking the footpath between the houses to Fallows Road, then turn left. Follow Fallows to the dead-end where another footpath exits the development at Mill Lane where you turn right. Proceed along Mill Lane: just after the trout farm, at the entrance to Padworth Mill, bear right along a narrow signposted public footpath between tall fences. From here the footpath crosses streams of the River Kennet including a weir and fish ladder that are part of the Millennium Salmon Pass Project (watch out for information sign). After the footbridges the path emerges at a kissing gate: go through and cross the field ahead, cross a small footbridge, and then turn right as the path splits three ways. Proceed along the right hand field edge keeping the hedge at right and at the end of the field keep ahead to join a wide stone track: this is the start of what becomes Fisherman’s Lane. Continue until the lane reaches Aldermaston Village; the Hind’s Head is directly across the road.
Hind’s Head to Rowbarge (2.0 miles)
Exit the pub and turn right along Wasing Lane. This initial section of the final leg is minor road of which the first 250 yards has pavement. The remaining ½ mile is lightly traveled country lane, mostly straight, with good visibility. Pedestrians and vehicles should see each other with plenty of safety margin nevertheless, be cautious, and be sure to walk facing the oncoming traffic. At Wasing Lower Farm turn right and follow signs to Brimpton Airfield and Public Footpath. At the airfield the track bears right, continues straight for a distance, then bears left to traverse open fields. At the meandering River Enborne the track ends however the footpath crosses the river then continues in a generally northwest direction finally emerging on the lane just south of Woolhampton. Turn right and it’s another 250 yards back to the Rowbarge.