For the June countryside trust walk thirty keen local walkers met at Eversley Church on Saturday for a seven mile stroll through the green open spaces between Yateley and Eversley.
We headed eastwards, initially past Lower Eversley copse where a small deer watched our progress before bounding off across the fields. After crossing Hollybush Lane we took advantage of the recently cut path beside Parfitts Farm to emerge in front of the Toad and Wicket. Luckily no one was tempted to go inside and we continued along Longwater Road and turning right alongside the Blackwater River.
Regular visitors to this path were grateful to see the old iron bridge over the conveyor belt has now been removed and we looked forward to when the Manor Farm site will become a nature reserve and to the access trails that will be there.
Onwards over the bridge to Moulsham Green and a sequence of paths that brought us to the open views of the fishing lake near Watmore Farm. Crossing back over the Reading road and across the fields and footbridges brought us to Firgrove Manor. We talked about its eighteenth century origins and use as a hospital in the First World War then we climbed up past the farm into the pastures behind where we stopped for most welcome tea and cake. Angus and Marilyn had brought their famous yellow wheelbarrow to a spot with a panoramic view towards the Finchampstead Ridges and surrounding area. Here swallows flitted across the field both above and below us catching insects. We had a leisurely break and relaxed and mingled and took a group photo before continuing.
We moved on across Yateley Common, hurrying past the litter strewn path alongside Castle Bottom, before enjoying the views by the new ponds created by the sand and gravel excavations which have now been completed. Then we followed the Welsh Drive to the SAGA stone, a familiar landmark when in this area, and headed back on part of the Three Castles route back to the historic church and rectory just as a wedding party arrived.
The seven and a bit miles had taken us exactly three hours on a partly sunny, partly overcast day but we had followed interesting paths and seen much wildlife and some excellent views and as usual while walking with a large group of local people a lot of interesting stories and reminiscences emerged.
I hope all enjoyed it.
Walk Leader Paul