Eversley Church (or Eversley Cross) and Castle Bottom Nature Reserve - Circular

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The walk takes place in a surprisingly quiet area between the urban sprawl of Camberley and Yateley and the village of Eversley. Part of the walk takes place around and through areas where sand is being extracted, but these areas are now being monitored by Hampshire County Council, and the woodland and heathland are being restored to a unique habitat.

The walk starts at the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Eversley, which has been a place of Christian worship for over 900 years. The church building itself dates mainly from the 18th Century. A notable figure in the history of St Mary's is the 19th Century preacher, author, naturalist and social reformer, Charles Kingsley. He was Rector of Eversley for 31 years and founded the village school.

The largest tree in the churchyard is a fine Wellingtonia (a giant redwood), a seedling from a cone Kingsley picked up in California, in what became the Yosemite National Park, in 1874. After his death in 1875 it was planted in the churchyard. To the south side of the church path, adjacent to the wall of the Old Rectory, there is a white marble cross where Charles Kingsley and his wife Fanny are buried.

It is believed that the church tower is the work of John James, who worked with Sir Christopher Wren, succeeded him as Surveyor to St Paul's Cathedral and built many churches and fine houses. It is also thought that he extended and re-fronted Firgrove Manor, which this route passes, in 1736.

The route follows at one point a long-distance drove road across Eversley, known as the Welsh Drive, along which cattle from Wales were herded to the markets south of London. Eversley's Cattle Fair continued well into the 19th Century.

Castle Bottom National Nature Reserve (despite the name there is unfortunately no evidence of a castle!) lies between the farmland and urban development to the north and east and the forestry and sand workings to the south and west.
It is a small fragment of what was once a very much more extensive system of heath and mire with some wood pasture. It is managed as part of a larger SSSI complex.

For birdwatchers, recent records include tree pipits, goldcrests, linnets, woodlarks (all breeding here), the occasional hobby as a summer visitor and there are apparently woodcock and nightjar to be found by the more determined and persistent among you! There are roe deer in and around the reserve.

The walk almost touches Blackbushe Airport as you leave the nature reserve and there will be light aircraft overhead. Opened in late 1942, RAF Hartfordbridge, as it was then, provided a base for squadrons of Spitfires and Mosquitos as well as a home for a Free French Squadron. At the end of the War, newly renamed RAF Blackbushe was transferred to RAF Transport Command and was used as a base for many Dakotas involved in the 1948 Berlin Airlift, as well as flight training purposes, listing HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as a successful student. In 1960 Blackbushe passed into civilian ownership.

Between WPs 20 and 21 you pass Lower Eversley Copse, which in May has a fantastic carpet of bluebells!

The walk can also start and finish at either the Chequers or Frog and Wicket pubs at Eversley Cross - see Access Info.

England - South England - Hampshire - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Good for Kids, Great Views, Industrial Archaeology, Wildlife, Woodland
02/01/2013 - Peter Scaresbrook

Just a note that at waypoint 5 to 6 there is a notice of closure from 7th Jan 2013 for approximately 6 months of the bridleway There will be a signed diversion which was not yet specified when we walked on 01/01/1 (it would appear to be around the edge of the land rather than through the middle). This is due to mineral extraction and all the trees in the picture have gone!

14/01/2012 - Mark Bailey

Liked this walk....great cross section of woods, plantation, meadows. Nice and easy and you really felt in the middle of nowhere despite being just a few miles from the spralling mass of non descript towns such as Camberley and Farnborough..... well marked, good directions and watch out for lots of different birds, well they looked different to me. All in all, a great little walk.

24/07/2011 - Susan Pyne

Very varied and interesting walk, not too difficult. Excellent directions and lots of waypoints to keep you on course. Eversley church is well worth a visit at the start or end.

13/06/2010 - Andrew Long

Interesting easy walk. GPX WM10 location looks inaccurate and we wandered into wood to find some long-haired cattle before doubling-back to find wooden decking.

13/10/2009 - Patricia Daw

11-10-09 Hi. My husband and I have just completed this pleasant walk on a wet autumnal day - the colours were lovely and we didn't get too wet with our waterproofs on! My pedometer said it was 4.33 miles and it took us 1 hour 40 minutes. We had walked 600 steps over the recommended 10000 per day!! Excellent directions. P.S. Apart from the following that is: point 12 - I think it should read - turn left outside the gate and take the clear left hand footpath, not the slightly right track (as we did as it mentions a track but it was quite soon clearly wrong).

01/01/2009 - Julie White

We did this walk as our first of 2009 and enjoyed it so much we will walk it again in the summer. There are several pubs around Eversley including a Blubeckers restaurant and the Queen's Oak in nearby Finchampstead is a good local pub serving food.

12/02/2008 - Chris Christodoulou

10/12/08 We did this walk on a bright cold sunny day and found it an easy walk with good directions. There is a pretty spring at waypoint 11 which is a nice place to stop for a break. There is no pub on the walk but the Crown & Cushion (on the way back to the M3) on the Minley road GU17 9UA - for those with a sat-nav is open all day and serves food. Chris Chrristodoulou.

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Distance away
30.5 Miles