Brian's 5 walks for the Wantage Summer Festival 2013 began on Tuesday 4 June 2013 - next one Tuesday 18th
Circular walks taking in parts of the Wilts & Berks Canal. The annual guided walks in and around Wantage and the surrounding villages are an opportunity to learn about the history of the canal, the ongoing restoration and to enjoy the countryside in the Summer.
Come prepared with suitable shoes or boots. Some routes may have stiles. For further details contact Brian Stovold on 07946 524928
Reports on the Saturday 15th walk "A circular walk starting and finishing at Ardington Church" and the Tuesday 18th walk "Industrial Archaeology in the Centre of Wantage" appear below
TUESDAY 25th JUNE 7.00pm
CANAL WALK AND EXPLORATION OF THE GROVE LOCK FLIGHT
STARTING AT THE LAYBY BETWEEN OXFORD LANE AND GROVE BRIDGE
Join us in this very popular exploration of the Grove Lock flight, east of Grove, starting and finishing at the layby (part of old road) between Oxford Lane and Grove Bridge (map ref 407902), The walk follows the much-improved footpath with plenty to see, and goes out as far as the remains of the Neville’s Farm Lift Bridge.
A delightful way to spend a summer’s evening. Distance will be around 2.5 miles, although allow 2.5 hours as your guide will linger in various places of historical interest and wax lyrical about his favourite subject, i.e. the history of the Wilts & Berks Canal. Please wear suitable clothing/shoes/walking boots and take care as routes
May include stiles, and roads for part of the way,. If further information is required, please contact Brian Stovold on 07946524928. A donation of £2 would be appreciated to help with the Sack House up keep.
Report on Summer Festival Walk Saturday 15th June
A circular walk starting and fnishing at Ardington Church
Summer! Pah!. Oh well 8 intrepid souls braved the squally showers and the beautiful weather in between to do this year’s long walk. Actually five miles according to wife Fiona’s iphone pedometer but felt ( according to my feet) rather more. By special permission of one of our local landowners we were able to explore the canal from the field edge to the north of Ardington.
Our route took us from the picturesque village of Ardington starting by the church and thence along the bridleway along the private road to Ardington Wick on the side of the hill ( the lower greensand ridge). From thence down a VERY straight bridleway track northwards to the railway line and through the slightly damp underbridge.
Here the weather started to pick up and I was forced to remove my waterproof. Across the fields on public footpaths to Ardington March lock. A rather interesting relic in a very quiet location...apart from the odd train in the distance.
From here we travelled along the field edge south eastwards, back under the railway line and thence to the Lockinge Park Road, passing the remains of Ardington Top Lock and then back up the fields to Ardington...Next year I am going to time this one so that we return before the teashop in the village closes ie 4pm.
I should point out that the structures shown are on private land, but both are visible from the public footpaths.
Next walk/ramble in Tuesday and at least this one is all on tarmac and within Wantage town centre!
Report on Summer Festival Walk Tuesday 18th June
INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE CENTRE OF WANTAGE
This evening was my still experimental Industrial Archaeological ramble around Wantage, using the Sack House as the starting point. Imagine my shock when 40 people turn up for the event!. Mike opened up the Sackhouse and the assembled masses were able to see the newly decorated internals...very impressive.
Wantage being a Saxon town has a long and fascinating history, and of course it is impossible to do justice to that in an hour and a half. We started by wandering through the gap between the new and old Town Mill ( the newer mill being famous for Wessex flour). From there we headed to the Betjeman Park and up into the Priory Road aka Tanners Road.
Undaunted by the bellringing practice going on in the nearby parish church we looked at the early tanning industry, and then headed into the Market Place. Pausing to take a look at the Georgian frontages and generally interesting brickwork I mentioned Black Wantage, the Wantage Improvement Act 1828, and the coaching inns surrounding the Market Place. I forgot to mention Bennetts Brewery behind the Falcon Tavern and 19thC Town Hall.
We then headed into Wallingford Street where I indicated where Little Lane had been before the old shops were demolished in the 70s to make way for Waitrose, headed round the corner into Waitrose Car Park and discussed the second Tannery Site, once the largest tannery in England until bankrupcy in the 1820s.
Then into Grove St, looking at several now ex pubs and musing over likely sites for one of the manor houses, before returning down Grove St stopping to look at a house built of what looks like bath stone and thence into the Sainsburys car park to discuss the Wantage Puddle ( the swimming pool given to the town for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.....and well remembered. It only closed in the 70s....I think I have now thawed out after many swims here when I was in primary school).
We stood on the site of the tramway rails leaving the town passenger station, and then headed across to Belmont Bridge on the Wantage arm of the canal. This fine stone bridge, one of only two specified in the Enabling Act was left to fall to ruin and eventually demolished in a superb ( !) bit of 70s town planning when the housing estate when in adjacent to the canal path. The remains of the west side are a sad reminder of all that Wantage has lost.
I rather enjoyed the Industrial Archaeological aspects and general history of this walk and I had various good words from those who came along. What was also super was those who chipped in with their own recollections. As I said to everyone at the start I always learn more from these walks than I impart. Maybe I’ll give this particular walk a break next year OR work on how to make it more interesting and perhaps really concentrate on a couple of streets rather than rambling around the town, who knows. I’ll await further responses and then think about it.
Now looking forward to the last walk of the season, hoping the weather stays kind, and thinking about repeating them outside of the Summer Festival..