Walk 4 – North Stoke Ring – 4½ miles

4This walk, as do all the described walks, commences at St Andrews church South Stoke. There is parking on The Street outside the church.

Proceed north along The Street towards Ferry Road, at the road junction turn left continuing on the Ridgeway Path, at the next road junction turn left (west) again onto Ferry Lane (unmade road) towards the river. When you reach the river (Thames) you will see the Beetle and Wedge hotel on the opposite bank, and the boat slipway in front of you.

Turn right (north) through the gate (remembering to close this and all gates behind you) and proceed along the river bank continuing on the Ridgeway Path, past Sheridan Marine and the preparatory school on the opposite bank until you reach the Four Arches, which carries the Great Western railway across the Thames. Take time to look at the architecture of the bridges the engineer being Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Passing under the Four Arches, continue to follow the Ridgeway Path along the river bank until you have to turn right (by an old boat house) which leads to Little Stoke House. Just before the cottages on the left the Ridgeway Path turns off to the left. Proceed on the Ridgeway Path, passing through numerous swing gates and after ¾ miles you will reach North Stoke church, built about 1237 and noted for its wall paintings and the Mass dial over the south door. Leave the churchyard at the main gateway and into Church Lane after 100 yds turn right (south) along The Street and at the next junction proceed straight ahead (south) on Pickets Lane. After about ½ mile you will reach the next road junction, turn right here and continue (south) on this road, ignoring the turning on the right to Little Stoke House, until you reach the entrance to Little Stoke Manor.

Straight ahead you will see a stile built into the wall, cross the stile and continue through the field, along Swan’s Way. Crossing the next stile you will cross a bridge over a brook fed by a fresh water spring, which is in water at certain times of the year.

Continue to follow the path through the field, which is now leading you towards the railway on the right. Aat the edge of the field, denoted by a small bank, carry on into the next field in the same direction and you should shortly be able to see the tunnel that carries the footpath under the railway, known locally as the ‘Bogey Hole’. Proceed through the tunnel and follow the footpath to the left and cross the field. The path exits the field to the right of Barr Ponds cottages. Continue down the lane until you rejoin Ferry Road.

Turn right and at the junction with The Street, turn left onto the Ridgeway Path and proceed to St Andrew’s church. This is the end of the walk.