Streatley’s Chalk Grasslands and Countryside Trail

Walking trail

Lardon Chase, the Holies and Lough Down are three adjacent National Trust countryside properties located above the village of Streatley and overlooking the Goring Gap. Lardon Chase, and a part of the Holies known as Holies Down, are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Before acquisition by the National Trust, the Holies was used for motorbike scrambling, resulting in considerable damage to the ground. Since they were acquired by the National Trust, the landscape at all three sites have been managed by a mixture of scrub clearance and cattle grazing to encourage the growth of chalk-loving plants. The slopes of all three properties now form one of the largest remaining areas of chalk grassland in the country and support a wide range of wildflowers and rare and endangered butterflies. This walk explores these areas or downland and the scenic West Berkshire countryside to the west of Streatley. Please park responsibly, and if the area is busy on your arrival please help us keep everyone safe by coming back another time.

Map

Ordnance Survey map of the route

Start:

Lardon Chase National Trust car park at SU583806

1

Do not cross the road, but leave the car park on the gravel track in the opposite corner to the car entrance and next to the National Trust Lardon Chase sign. Go through the wooden gate then continue ahead keeping the hedge on your left. You soon see views over Streatley, Goring and the Thames. About 600m beyond the car park the hedge takes a 90 degree turn to the left.

Goring Gap from Lardon Chase

2

Turn left for about 30m then go through a gate to enter Lough Down. Now bear about 30 degrees to the right and head due north following a broad track across the open grassland. As you start heading more steeply downhill aim for an opening just to the right of a distinctive white house on the road below. There are panoramic views to the north here and you should be able to make out the distinctive twin wooded hills called the Wittenham Clumps. Go through the gate and down the track beside the white house to reach Rectory Road.

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Lough Down

3

Turn left along the road, which here is part of The Ridgeway long distance footpath. You pass Goring and Streatley Golf Club on your left, Thurle Grange on your right, then a riding stables on your left. About 120m after the stables you come to a sign-posted track next to a house called Wynders.

Lough Down

4

Turn left and follow the track gently uphill. When the track enters a field bear left onto the signed footpath. Continue on the path though open fields at the base of a broad dry valley. After passing the distinctive and isolated Kiddington Cottage on your right, you join the track to the cottage that heads more steeply uphill into Westridge Copse, then past farm buildings to reach the B4009 road at Westridge Green.

Dry Valley

5

Turn left along the road then, after 80m where the road bends left, turn right onto a farm track heading downhill. When the track bends left to Gould’s Cottage continue ahead and uphill on a signed footpath. This path soon bends left to run along the flank of a dry valley to your left. Continue ahead over a crossing farm track. The bluebells beside the path through College Wood and Beechcroft Shaw are beautiful in late spring. Bear right to join a farm track when you emerge from the woods then follow the signed footpath straight ahead (not the bridleway to the right) to meet a road next to Pyghtle Cottage.

Grims Ditch at College Wood

6

Turn left along the road. After 400m, at a minor road junction, follow the road left then right beside Southridge House. After 300m, bear left to join a road coming from your right. After passing Manor Farm the road passes under electricity pylons then heads steeply downhill to Stichens Green. Here the road bends sharply right then heads uphill to a crossroads.

The lane at Stichens Green

7

Cross the road then follow a drive uphill signed as a Public Bridleway and past the marker post for Ash Hill (not the drive to the left of this to Holies Shaw House). This drive runs parallel to Grim’s Ditch in the woodland just to your left. At the top, when the drive bends sharply left, keep ahead, crossing Grim’s Ditch, on a footpath that now heads downhill. Soon you see the open grassland of The Holies on your left. After passing stables on your right you see the main A329 road ahead.

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Grims Ditch at Stichens Green

8

Before reaching the road turn sharply left and partially back on yourself then go through a wooden kissing gate beside the National Trust sign to enter The Holies. Keep left to join the track along the edge of the grassland, with woodland on your left. Follow the track when it bends right away from the woodland edge to pass a wooden signpost. Bear left and uphill towards a gate. Go through this then continue uphill across Holies Down until the track goes through another gate into woodland.

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Cowslips at the Holies

9

Continue ahead on the track through Common Wood. The path levels out with woodland on the right and more open acid grassland on the left. You re-enter woodland then dip down to cross the head of a dry valley to your right called The Coombe. You pass through an area carpeted with bluebells in late spring. On reaching the road, cross over and turn right to return to the car park where you started the walk.

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Common Wood

End:

Lardon Chase National Trust car park at SU583806

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Streatley’s Chalk Grasslands and Countryside Trail

Terrain

The walk is mainly on soft footpaths and gravel tracks with some stretches on quiet country lanes with little traffic. There are some fairly steep slopes. There are a number of gates on the route, but no stiles. Stout walking shoes or walking boots are recommended in wet or frosty conditions or after heavy rain as some paths can become muddy and slippery. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept under strict control, with mess bagged and binned offsite. In the presence of livestock, all dogs must be kept on short leads. Total climb: 291 metres.

Streatley’s Chalk Grasslands and Countryside Trail

Contact us

Telephone: 01491 672382

Email: basildonpark@nationaltrust.org.uk

Streatley’s Chalk Grasslands and Countryside Trail

How to get here

Address
National Trust car park at Lardon Chase. Grid Ref: SU583806
By train

There are regular services to Goring and Streatley station on the Great Western Line. To join the walking trail at Point 6, follow the path out of the station from Platform 1 towards Goring village to the junction with Yew Tree Crescent. Cross onto Station Road, and follow this to the John Barleycorn pub and turn right along Manor Road. On reaching the High Street, turn left and cross the bridge to reach the traffic-light controlled crossroads in Streatley opposite the Bull Inn, and with care follow the narrow Streatley Hill road past the Bull Inn. There is a pavement on the left side of the road after you pass the Inn. Continue up Streatley Hill until you pass the Old School House on your right. At this point, cross the road and follow the track between fences, garages and houses to reach a gate on your left leading into Lardon Chase. Go through the gate and take the steep, grassy path straight up the hill to join the walk at Step 2. (Additional distance: 1.1 miles each way.)

By road

From the traffic-light controlled crossroads on the A329 in the centre of Streatley, turn west and up Streatley Hill on the B4009. The National Trust car park at Lardon Chase is 900 metres (just over half a mile) on the right.

SATNAV: Streatley Hill, Streatley, West Berkshire. Latitude: 51.522019, Longitude: -1.1608037

By foot

Streatley is on the Ridgeway long distance footpath. You can join this trail between Points 6 and 7 in the centre of Streatley.

By bus

The nearest bus stop is on the High Street opposite the Bull Inn. Buses include the 143 from Reading and the 133 from Wallingford. From the Bull Inn follow the narrow Streatley Hill road past the Bull. There is a pavement on the left side of the road after you pass the Inn. Continue up Streatley Hill until you pass the Old School House on your right. At this point, cross the road and follow the track between fences, garages and houses to reach a gate on your left leading into Lardon Chase. Go through the gate and take the steep, grassy path straight up the hill to join the walk at Step 2.

By bicycle

Please see OS maps 170 and 171. The route itself is not suitable for bicycles, but it is within easy cycling distance of Reading, Henley-on-Thames, Oxford and Wallingford.

Streatley’s Chalk Grasslands and Countryside Trail

Facilities and access

  • Free parking is available at The National Trust car park at Lardon Chase. Grid Ref: SU583806
  • Teas and lunches are available at the Basildon Park (2 miles south of Streatley on the A329) between 10am and 4.45pm, or dusk if earlier, 363 days of the year. Please note admission to the site applies.
  • Bull Inn at Streatley serves food on most days from midday. Telephone: 01491 872392
  • In Goring village, there are public toilets, shops, pubs and cafes.
  • There are several seats and benches at Lardon Chase and The Holies.