Walk distance: 4.1 km
Walk duration: 1hr (or just over in muddy conditions!)
Suitable for: baby carriers (but can be adapted as pushchairs/buggies can be used on some parts)
Walk features: ancient woodland, woodland trust, free parking, shops, post office and village centre close by.
Beautiful quiet woodland wandering surrounded by british birdsong make this an uplifting yet accessible stroll, short enough to slip into the day of a busy parent! On well marked footpaths for most of the way, it weaves its way from Sonning Common village, through two sets of woods before returning in a loop to Sonning Common centre. Sonning Common itself has two stores, a pharmacy and post-office and other shops making this the perfect walk to grab a breath of fresh air whilst out running errands. The walk marked here is suitable for baby carriers and children as there are several stiles in the second section of the walk some of the footpaths can get quite muddy in wet weather. If you are looking for a pushchair walk, there are plenty of footpaths in Old Copse, all of them stile free and you can walk the last part of the walk in reverse, including the bridleway in New Copse as detailed below.
The walk starts from Woodlands Road in the South Oxfordshire village of Sonning Common. There is plenty of on-street parking on Woodlands Road. Join the footpath at the top of the road, with the footpath clearly signposted at the entrance to Old Copse woodland.
On entering Old Copse take the footpath straight ahead, which is clearly signposted and ignore the several unmarked footpaths to the left and right. Old Copse is a Woodland Trust wood covering 12.46 ha.and is believed to be an ancient, semi-natural woodland. Continue straight on until you reach the edge of the woods. Ignore the larger footpath to your left and head straight on the smaller path ahead of you. At the road edge you will pass an old well on your right hand side.
Cross over and turn left, walking up along the side of the road for a short distance before rejoining the footpath. Do take care with children on this bit as though the road stretch is only very short, traffic when it does come is reasonably fast. The footpath is marked on your right hand side. Climb over the stile and continue on the footpath straight ahead, heading for the woods opposite and climbing over two more stiles. Take care if you are wearing a baby rucksack on the second stile as at time of writing the foliage needed a trim and was a little low for head clearance!
Once over this stile you will enter New Copse. This woodland is managed by UPM Tillhill and walk access is restricted to walkers only, except on the marked bridlepath on the southern side. Take the footpath straight ahead and continue through the trees on the footpath. The ground is usually fairly good for walking but can be very wet and muddy after wet
weather (see photo), so boots are advised. At the northern edge of the wood the walk turns to the left, with the way ahead blocked by fencing. Continue on the marked footpath, crossing over an intersection with a vehicle track. On your right here children might notice the log pile created by the forest management purposefully as a sanctuary for wood dwelling insects and wildlife.
Continue your walk to the western edge where you will find a sign-post marking the bridlepath along the woodland edge to your left. The bridlepath follows the forest edge on a wider footpath back to edge of the forest and is suitable for buggies and pushchairs, although in wet weather you will find the ground quite hard going and require a purpose-built all-terrain buggy to avoid getting stuck in the mud!
At the edge of the forest the walk follows the footpath to your right along the track to the road. Cross straight over the road and back into Old Copse where the footpath leads you past the school and playing fields on your right hand side and back through the woods to the starting point at the end of Woodlands Road, Sonning Common.
Map of route:
This walk is also easily accessible by 25 minute journey on a wheelchair accessible bus from Reading (Bus 2), stopping outside Sonning Common post office. Check Travel Line South-East for journey details and timetables.
View Sonning Common Woodland Wander start point in a larger map
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