The Berkshire Downs are a line of downland hills, part of
the NorthWessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
They have attracted human habitation since prehistoric
times. Geologically they are continuous with the
Marlborough Downs to the west and the Chilterns to
the east. They lie east-west, with their scarp slope facing
north into theVale ofWhite Horse and their dip slope
bounded by the course of the River Kennet. In the east
they are divided from the Chilterns by the RiverThames.
These walks cover more or less the length of the
Berkshire Downs, from Ashdown House in the west to
the NationalTrust properties - Lardon Chase, Lough
Down and the Holies - in the east.The Ridgeway, the
spine of the Downs, is never far away. Some walks stray
into Oxfordshire but that is understandable; until 1974 an
area like Moulsford lay in Berkshire. Historical and literary
associations are everywhere, from a battle fought by King
Alfred (then a prince), possible complicity by a Catholic
grandee in the Gunpowder Plot, two monuments to
soldiers one very grand, the ubiquitous John Betjeman, a
once-famous sheep fair, through to Wind in theWillows,
Three Men in a Boat,Worzel Gummidge andThomas
Hardy's last novel Jude the Obscure.
The ten circular walks, ranging from 3 to 8 miles, suit the
needs of families, groups of friends or individuals looking
for a gentle stroll or a longer walk, and reflect the many
varied facets of the area - its people, its history, and its
working landscape and will help first time visitors to
experience some of the great scenery the area has to
offer. Many of the walks feature a pub along the route.
Halsgrove's new-format guidebook, containing maps,
photographs and useful information will ensure a great
walking experience. Packed with colour, the book is an
ideal reminder of a visit to the area.