North Wessex Downs AONB are holding their third Walking Festival at the beginning of June and we are really excited to be taking part this year.
There is really something for everyone with 27 walks with opportunities to seek out wildlife or history, visit a working farm or simply soak up the views from the top of the downs. Most local to the Lambourn Valley is Geology and Landscape around Ashdown House on Sunday 4th June, but you might like to join Philippa Sanders of Pipsticks Walks at Letcombe Regis on Monday 5th June for Ridgeway Ramblings, or why not create your own Ridgeway art journal at Wayland’s Smithy on Friday June 9th? Details of all the walks can be found at https://www.northwessexdowns.org.uk/walking/walking-festival/. The majority of the walks are free but pre booking is essential.
A walk around Lambourn Downs and Sheepdrove Farm takes place on Sunday 11th June at 10.30am along some of the farm tracks, drovers’ roads and footpaths that criss-cross our 2,000-acre mixed farm. We’ll pass pasture, arable, young woodland, agroforestry fields, a rewilding project and chalk downland, listening out for the songs of corn buntings and skylarks as we walk.
On the walk we’ll be following a previous gated farm track that we recently designated as a new permissive path. We have in fact opened several new permissive paths to add to the 13,423 metres of public rights of way that cross the farm. We consulted with the West Berkshire Ramblers and they suggested linking existing public footpaths and bridleways to create more walking circuits around the farm and also extending existing permissive paths to create safe active routes at Sheepdrove Road and Mill Lane so that it is possible to hike or bike from Lambourn to Sheepdrove with barely having to set foot or wheel on a tarmac road. Some regular walkers at Sheepdrove may have already used the paths and spotted the specially commissioned self-guided trail maps on display around the farm which were funded by North Wessex Downs AONB via the Farming in Protected Landscape scheme.
Once back at the farm, there’ll be the chance to extend the walk with a short circuit to visit the constructed wetlands and ancient woodland at Nut Wood. You are welcome to bring food and drink and picnic in the courtyard, herb garden or on the paddock behind the events venue. Hope to see you there!