Walk the Path 2015 takes place on Sunday 26th April and we invite you to walk the lower reaches of the Blackwater Valley Path as part of this organised walk. It will be a single day’s walk covering the last 17 km (10 miles) following the river from Sandhurst to Swallowfield – including a few sections of path that are not normally open to the public.
Bring your friends, invite your neighbours or come alone and walk this most beautiful part of the Blackwater Valley. If you’ve never before explored this pleasant rural countryside, now is a perfect opportunity to do so.
You will be able to walk at your own pace, although there will be a walk leader, back marker and designated walk guides. To make things easier for you there will be transport at the walk start or finish (more details below), refreshment points en route and a collection service if you are unable to finish the walk for whatever reason.
Costs / Booking Form
The walk costs £6 for Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust (BVCT) members and £10 per person for non-members.
Bookings will be open from Monday 16th February via the BVCT web site http://www.bvct.org.uk using a secure on-line booking process. Before you click on the link to book please make sure you have to hand the contact name and details (including mobile phone number) of all participants if you plan to walk with others, and a credit/debit card for payment. Once you click the link you will be transferred to the on-line booking via Hantsweb Shop. Please then follow the instructions as listed.
The walk starts at Sandhurst and covers the lower reaches of the Blackwater Valley Path to Swallowfield. It covers approximately 17 km (10 miles) and takes in unsurfaced paths and field edges, which can be muddy. Some sections involve road walking with road junctions to negotiate, and there will be 10 field stiles[i] to cross.
The route will generally track the Blackwater Valley Path, which largely follows the line of the River Blackwater. We are grateful to local land owners who have given special permission to walk away from the designated path route in some places not normally open to the public.
Walk Start Points & Car Parking
The walk begins at Sandhurst Memorial Park and there will be variable start times from 9am to 11am to avoid congestion. You will be given your start time once you have booked (please note this may be a few days after you have booked).
For those driving to Sandhurst you will be asked to leave your car at the designated car park, and then you will be registered. (To minimise parking please share cars where possible, or use public transport.) Alternatively you can opt to drive to Swallowfield and catch the minibus to Sandhurst, where you will be registered; this option avoids any delays once you have finished the walk. On the booking form we will ask you to state if you have a preference where to start but for operational reasons this cannot always be guaranteed.
The walk finishes at The Crown pub in Swallowfield, where the minibuses back to Sandhurst will be waiting, however be prepared for a wait as the minibuses will be operating a shuttle service and the round trip can take up to one hour. The Crown pub at Swallowfield invites you to use their facilities and if you wish buy a drink and wait in comfort for your lift.
On the Walk
Simply follow the Blackwater Valley Path waymarkers and the special yellow ‘Walk the Path’ signs. At a number of junctions the route may be uncertain, so you will be given a ‘Walk the Path’ map before you set off. There will be an overall walk leader and back marker, and between them walk guides will set off at intervals; you will be allocated your start time after you have booked. There is no obligation to remain with your allotted group and you are welcome to walk on your own or at your own pace but you can walk with walk guides if you want to be part of a group or wish to remain with someone who knows the route. If you get to a point where you are not sure where to go please wait, there will always be someone behind to help; alternatively ring the emergency contact number given to you on the day.
Refreshment Stops & Check Points
There will be a morning stopping point where cold refreshments will be available and a lunchtime stop with hot and cold drinks. There will be toilet facilities at both locations.
Every walker will be allocated a unique walk number at registration and will be required to report in at every stopping point giving this number so we know that everyone is okay. If any walker wishes to leave the walk for any reason they must inform a walk guide or another walker.
The route includes sections of road walking and road junctions where great care must be taken as some roads are very busy. Some sections of the path pass through fields where livestock may be grazing. All walk marshals and check points will have first aid kits and mobile phones, anyone experiencing difficulties or feeling unwell must let one of the walk marshals know or should ring the emergency contact number given on the day. A vehicle will be available to collect anyone unable to complete the walk.
What Walkers Need
- Comfortable footwear, suitable for country paths which can be muddy in parts.
- Suitable clothing for the weather either a waterproof jacket or sun hat and sun screen.
- Bottle of drink and a packed lunch.
- Mobile phone, if you have one. It is always a good safety device although there will be walk guides with phones if there is a problem.
Although dogs are welcome we regret we are unable to transport them in the minibuses due to minibus regulations, so you will need to make your own transport arrangements. If you wish to bring a dog please indicate this on the booking form. There are certain sections of the walk where dogs have to be on a lead and we request that you kindly observe this requirement.