24th February 2006
The River, Ridges & Recreation
Go back about 50 years and the view over the Blackwater Valley from Finchampstead was one of fields and agricultural activity. Since then mineral extraction has transformed the area it into an extensive network of lakes now used for watersports and wildlife. Join the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership for a circular walk around this area on Sunday 19th March, and you will discover some of the area’s fascinating history.
Meeting at Horseshoe Lakes car park you will immediately see how gravel extraction has transformed the landscape. The lake ,which today offers a range of different watersport activities, was once mainly rough pasture used for grazing horses and cattle. The walk then takes you alongside the River Blackwater and Moor Green Lakes, where you can witness how careful site restoration and ongoing management has benefited both people and wildlife alike. Today the three lake complex making up Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve is one of the best sites for birds in the entire valley attracting record numbers of wildfowl and wading birds: over 200 species of bird have been recorded in the area since 1977.
The walk now moves away from the river and continues up to Finchampstead Ridges, an area of National Trust woodland and one of their earliest acquisitions purchased in 1913. The Wellingtonia Avenue, planted here in 1863 by John Walter, a Berkshire MP and proprietor of The Times, is particularly impressive. As you walk along the Ridges you may be rewarded with some fine views of the Blackwater Valley – so watch out as you go. Continuing past Heath Pond, on the route of an old Roman Road, the walk heads south, going downhill and back to the starting point at Horseshoe Lakes.
This pleasant morning walk is open to all, will be at an easy pace covering about five miles and should take about three hours. Meet for a 10am start at Horseshoe Lakes car park, Mill Lane, Yateley car park off the Lower Sandhurst Road (grid reference: SU 820620). There will be some slopes and uneven ground which could be wet and muddy so wet weather clothing and suitable footwear are recommended. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. For more details contact the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on 01252 331353 or visit www.blackwater-valley.org.uk.
This walk is part of the ‘Discover the Blackwater Valley 2006 Programme’ organised by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership and designed to encourage residents within the Blackwater Valley area to learn more about the countryside on their doorstep.
For further information contact:
Christine Reeves, Visitor Promotions Officer on 01252 331353.
- Horseshoe Lakes covers about 22 acres of former gravel pits that have been flooded and restored. Owned by Bracknell Forest Borough Council the site is now a popular spot for informal recreation, watersports and nature conservation.
- Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve is an important habitat for wildlife. It covers 90 acres (36 hectares) and comprises three lakes with gravel islands and beaches and a number of scrapes that attract a wide variety of wildfowl and wading birds: over 200 species of bird have been recorded in the area since 1977. The Reserve was opened in 1993 following the careful restoration of gravel workings and is owned by CEMEX.
- The Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership (BVCP) is funded by the County, District and Parish Councils along the River Blackwater. It works to promote community action in conservation and recreation and to protect the Valley for the enjoyment and well being of the whole community.
- Members of the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership are: Hampshire County Council, Surrey County Council; the District, Town and Borough Councils of Blackwater & Hawley, Bracknell Forest, Farnham, Guildford, Hart, Rushmoor, Sandhurst, Surrey Heath, Waverley, Wokingham and Yateley.