On a cold Sunday in December I had decided I’d had enough of being indoors dodging the rain showers and was in need of a walk. Hopping into the car, we made the short journey from Hampshire to the historic town of Hungerford, Berkshire.
We started off the day with a spot of brunch down at The Tutti Pole, a traditional café that’s been on Hungerford’s High Street for many a decade. This café seems to be popular with both locals and visitors alike and the small English breakfast was a great way to set us both up for a walk.
Just a few doors down from the Tutti Pole you can pick up the towpath of the Kennet & Avon Canal. There are some beautiful old cottages which line the canal here and it’s a bit like stepping back in time as you head along here.
Taking the route westwards, we headed past some of the colourful narrowboats moored up near to one of the canal’s locks.
Continuing on, we reached St Lawrence’s Church whereby a swing bridge crossed the canal. There’s a choice here, you can continue along the towpath or you can cross over the swing bridge and then a narrow footbridge which leads you in the direction of the River Dun. The latter was what we decided to do as it was a route that neither of us had taken before.
There was many a dog walker out for their morning stroll and the locals we met along the way all offered beaming smiles and welcoming hellos!
Following along the path, we passed areas with reed beds which I can imagine would be havens for warblers in the summer months. We then headed into an area known as Freeman’s Marsh, a countryside area and Site of Special Scientific Interest due to some of the wildlife that can be found there.
Traditionally, the area is known as a common and some locals have the rights to graze their animals on the land. Although there was no cattle on our visit, we certainly realised why the ‘Marsh’ comes into the area’s name, it was pretty boggy and I was wishing that I was wearing my walking boots and in places, my wellies, not the boots that I had on my feet!
We didn’t choose to walk the whole length of Freeman’s Marsh on this occasion, instead choosing to cross back over the canal at Marsh Lock and heading eastwards back along the towpath. Along the way, we passed many a fisherman sat patiently waiting for their catch (I think there was some kind of fishing competition on). I was half expecting to see a kingfisher dart past as well but no such luck this time!
If you are feeling energetic then you could extend this walk quite easily by just walking further either way along the Kennet & Avon Canal. I’ve included some photos in this blog from other times I’ve walked along the canal here (it’s particularly stunning in the autumn with the colours of the leaves and the reflections on the water).
I was feeling the need to warm up slightly more so it was time to walk up besides Hungerford’s historic bridge and back into the town for a spot of shopping.
In terms of shopping, Hungerford is well-known for its antiques and independent shops. There are several on the main street and some are like treasure troves with all kinds of items for all kinds of budgets. It’s nice to see the shops so busy on a Sunday as well and there was quite a buzz about the area. If you feel like jazzing up your home’s interior then it’s definitely worth a visit here as there is a wide-range of choice.
In the spring, I think this area will definitely be on my list to return to. I’d like to explore further along the canal westwards into Wiltshire and would love to see how Freeman’s Marsh looks when the marsh plants and flowers are at their best.