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Wednesday already? And here’s me only just posting about the weekend. I guess all the training I’m doing is taking up more time than I expected it to?

Much like our last weekend together, Shelli and I had a weekend of walking planned. Again, the routes were taken from my “1001 Walks In Britain” present. A great Christmas present indeed – thanks Val and Tony!

I’d plotted the routes for Saturday during the week so after going for a run we headed out and down to Haweli for a curry and a couple of well deserved beers. Lovely food, great company, a lovely way to make our way into the weekend.

Having done a couple local walks we ventured a little further afield this time with three walks planned over the weekend, all of which being in West Berkshire. Okay, not too far away from home but it meant, even with a 50 minute drive each morning, we’d still get the best part of the day to walk.

On Saturday we planned to do two walks. They were close to each other, and as they weren’t the longest it seemed like a good idea to do one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The first walk of the day was a short walk – only 3.2 miles – around Frilsham. We drove to the Pot Kiln pub, parked the car, got our boots/gaiters on and headed up the track.

It wasn’t long before we came across a well with a grating over the top of it in the trees. There was a [kind of] path leading down to it so we went to check it out.

The late 7th century legend of St. Frideswide says that the church stands on the site of a ruined temple used as a pig-sty. It was that pig-sty which provided cover for the princess as she fled from the unwanted attentions of a Mercian prince. St. Frideswide hid there for some time, sustained by a nearby well, the well that we came across in the trees.

History and culture eh? Never thought you’d get that here did you?

The majority of the walk was through some lovely woodland, albeit with some rather muddy paths. The weather was perfect and the two of us had a great time enjoying the scenery, snapping away with our cameras and having a good laugh. A great way to start the weekend’s walking, covering the 3.2 miles in a relaxed 1 hour 30 minutes.

When we got back to the car we had our lunch – made that morning by the lovely Shelli – and then afforded ourselves a little break in the pub, supping a half pint of fine ale. The Pot Kiln was a lovely pub, small but full of character. It soon filled up so we drank up and made our way back to the car to head up the road to Hermitage, the start point for the afternoon’s longer 5.9 mile walk.

The book had warned that parking in Hermitage was limited so after a quick look round we decided to park on a quiet side street, making sure we didn’t block any driveways. Kit back on we headed down the road and up a bridleway and on over a field to more woods. Again, the path was a little on the muddy side but that was no surprise.

The walking was great and again we snapped away with our cameras, both as mad as each other when it comes to taking photos. That said, even though we were stopping often to take photos, we were still making reasonable time.

There was a little more lane/road walking on this route but fortunately most of the roads were nice and quiet, each road stint leading to yet more woodland walking.

On our way back to Hermitage the route took us through Grimsbury wood, which was pretty big with lots of paths all criss-crossing each other. I was thankful I had my GPS with me but even then – probably distracted taking photos – we missed the path we were supposed to have taken. We ended up cutting through the woods to get back on track, heading uphill to the top of Grimsbury Castle, an iron age hill fort. With all the trees it was a little difficult to make out the old ramparts but it was possible in places to see how they were formed on the hill.

From there we headed down the road into Hermitage and back to the car, another great walk completed, covering the 5.9 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I think all the fresh air and exercise got to us as we were both shattered when we got back home, opting for an early (ish) night before the following day’s walk.

We didn’t rush up Sunday morning, although I wasn’t feeling on top form. I had a bit of an upset stomach. A few visits to the loo indicated that I needed to medicate if I wanted to get out for the day. Fortunately I had some imodium in my medicine cabinet and a few doses later things were improving.

By the time we’d gotten ready, had a light breakfast, loaded the car and headed off to West Ilsley – the start for the day’s walk – we managed to get there around 10:30am. With 6.7 miles ahead of us we weren’t too worried as it was – worst case – three or so hours walking.

The nice weather of the previous day had turned somewhat. What made it worse was the wind. What made it even worse was the fact that as we headed out of West Ilsley, starting the slow and steading uphill climb, the wind was blowing straight at us making every step considerably harder than it should have been.

Things didn’t improve when we headed away from the road as the open fields left little protection from the crosswind. This was tough walking but we couldn’t help but raise a chuckle at how ridiculous it was compared to the previous day.

We took it steady out to Farnborough. There, we took a rest on a bench in the churchyard, soaking up the fantastic view across the open fields and having a snack to refuel slightly after the tough uphill walk in the wind. Me, I only had a lemon slice for some sugar as I was still a little worried about my stomach. I’d not drunk that much either for the same reason – not the best idea, I know.

Refreshed we headed back to the track and started to make our way back around and down to West Ilsley. Fortunately there was a lot more cover from the wind on the way back with more woodland walking and yet more muddy paths.

Back in West Ilsley, having covered the 6.7 miles in 2 hours and 57 minutes, we sat at the church where Shelli had her lunch. Again, still worried about my stomach I had another lemon slice and a Mars bar, enough to get me home.

All in all another fantastic weekend of walking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I never seem happier than when I’m out in the fresh air, surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s even better now that I’ve got someone to share these experiences with, someone who enjoys it just as much as I do.

Photo galleries are up from the weekend, one for each of the walks so go and check them out.

Roll on the next free weekend and more walking!