Education & Employment – Scenic Walks from Berkeley, Newtown & Wanswell

This walk is two shorter loops, and a walk can be started from Berkeley, Newtown or Wanswell.

Each clockwise loop can be done separately as a short circular walk.

Or they can be joined together – into a something like a figure of eight – by just walking under the railway bridge on the road into Newtown.

Lucky Newtown has two loops from the door here!

Loop A:  Berkeley to Newtown – 2.7 miles
Starting from Berkeley, go to the end of Hook Street and direction A1.
Starting from Newtown, go under the railway bridge and to direction A11.

Loop B:  Newtown to Wanswell – 2.5 miles
Starting from Newtown, go to the last house just before the railway bridge and direction B1.
Starting from Wanswell, go to opposite the school and direction B11.

Instructions for linking the two loops are in the directions.

Map of Loops A & B - directions and photos are below

For ease, the walk map is shown again between the loops i.e. between directions A16 & B1 below.

You may also find it handy to save/download the map to your phone/photos.

Loop A’s local plan theme is Employment.

In addition to the 5,000 houses, the local plan mentions 10 hectares for ’employment’ on land in the environs of Loop A.  The developer is committed to providing 10 hectares of land – but that is it!  No buildings or anything else!!

Who will build the infrastructure and offices/units to attract jobs?  When will jobs come?  Will locals commute out and others commute in?  What will happen to that 10 hectares if units are not built?  Will more houses be built?  With the new work-from-home and companies giving up office space, will there be demand?

One thing is certain: there will be no road linking the new development area to the other touted economic expansion zone i.e. the Power Station area with the two Colleges on the Hook Street side of Berkeley where Loop A starts.

Road traffic between the two areas will all have to go through Berkeley’s town centre and the existing through roads.

The developer suggests that everyone will be cycling/walking/segwaying in all weathers despite the geographically exposed location.  Is that realistic?

There have long been spare brownfield sites in the docks area.  The hub by Berkeley power station/colleges has also struggled to attract businesses/industry.

During Loop A, on the main road near the turn off to Newtown, look towards the Severn.  The area south of the docks is now dominated by huge warehouses which have been erected in recent years.  The ground is already prepared for yet another even larger warehouse.  These sites have brought many more large lorries but few jobs.

Loop B’s local plan theme is Education.

The old state secondary school at Wanswell was closed a decade ago and is currently a private school.  The plan is for this school to be demolished and houses built on the site and its playing fields.

There are no concrete plans – no absolute promises – about when or where to build a new secondary school.  The local secondary schools in Dursley and Wotton-under-Edge are already very full and under pressure.

Berkeley Primary School has no space for expansion.  The area immediately behind Sharpness Primary School will be a noisy, dirty, huge building site for years.

Loop A

A1.  From Lynch Road in Berkeley, go up Hook Street past the entrance to the Berkeley Vale Park homes.

On reaching the T-junction with a track – just past the red brick house in the pic below – take the left hand track.

A2.  Continue along the track past a delapidated black barn and couple of red brick outhouses/stables.

The track here narrows to a grassy path. Continue down this beautiful, lush green path.

A3.  The path bends to the left and then to the right.   Just after that second bend, where two gates are opposite each other on each side of the path, pause to take in the views over each gate.

The view on the right is shown in the top photo.  This side of the path will all become a housing estate reaching the road to Sharpness and far beyond (10 hectares will be reserved for business units).  This area is well within the most immediate of the Severn’s ‘supposedly’ protected zones i.e. within 400m – the other zones are 1km and 10km.

The view on the left is towards the upper Severn estuary and the internationally important and protected SSSI and Ramsar sites.  The local plan states that this land – which as highly exposed to the weather and used for sheep grazing – will become allotments – and a farm!  The parts that are most prone to flooding are earmarked to become a nature reserve.

Note:  Urbanisation of this area – with the associated increase in air, ground, light, noise and litter pollution plus more disturbance by people, pets, and attracted vermin – are all a very real threat to the Severn Estuary’s habitats, the birds, and their food chain.  Those are already under intense pressure from climate change and sea level rises squeezing out the salt marsh habitats.  The salt marshes are already trapped by extensive man made sea defences along most of the Severn Estuary – this is called ‘coastal squeeze’.

A4.  Continue along the same path through the trees.  The path passes between ditches and hedgerows on both sides, and past a lovely copse full of song birds on the right.  Also look out for animal tracks crossing the path and other signs of wildlife.

At the time of writing on 1st June 2021, due to the wet May this year there is still one short muddy section – it will dry out for the summer.  The mud here today was firmer than it looks – I got muddy shoes but despite leaky shoes did not get wet feet.

Continue along this path – a very special, enchanting place.

Note:  The frothy white flowers out at present are mainly Cow Parsley – but beware that there is also a lot of the very deadly Hemlock Water Dropwort growing along here.  That is also a white umbellifer, can be tempting to dogs and horses, and tastes nice like parsnips (I guess someone lived to tell the tale). In the spring, this lane is colourful with Bluebells, Primroses, and lots of pink Cuckoo Flower (Ladies’ Smock).

Mud not as bad as it looks - did this in walking shoes

A5.  Continue until you get to a gate. Go through this gate into a field.

A6.  Continue straight ahead up the narrow field between a hedgerow on the right and a fence and open views towards the Severn on the left.

A7.  When you get to a mesh fence by a pond on the right hand side, follow the footpath sign on the fence post.

A8.  Head towards the far right hand corner of the field until you see a gate on the right.  Another gate will be visible behind the first gate.

Go through the first gate, then turn left to go through the second gate too.

A9.  You are now on a country lane.  Keep going ahead along this lovely quiet lane – do not take the right turn to Oakhunger Farm but keep straight ahead to go past both Panthurst Farm and Saniger Farm.

This meandering lane with its wide meadow verges and roadside ponds will also take you past barn conversions and an antique barn.

A10.  On reaching the main road to Sharpness – carefully looking all ways and listening – go straight cross the main road to join the old road which runs parallel to the main road.

This old road is part of the the long and winding Saniger Lane whose name keeps cropping up.

To continue into Loop B:  Once on the old road, go left and follow Saniger Lane towards Newtown by immediately turning right to go under the railway bridge – carefully cross the road to use the pavement.  Now start Loop B from B1.

A11.  This is where Loop A starts if coming from Newtown or Loop B.  It is at the bottom of the old road which runs parallel to the main road from the docks, and is by the turnoff to Newtown.  

This old road is part of the long and windy Saniger Lane.

Once on the old road, continue to follow Saniger Lane up the slope away from Newtown and towards Berkeley.  The lane deteriorates into a track.

A12.  Where this part of Saniger Lane reaches the main road, carefully cross the road – looking and listening – and continue straight onto the lane opposite – this is also Saniger Lane.

Note:  Take time to notice the wild flowers and various grasses growing freely in the lovely untrimmed verges. The little magenta flowers are Vetch.

A13.  Follow Saniger Lane until reaching a public footpath sign on the left pointing to a gate on the right.

Unfortunately, the farmer has made it difficult to use this right of way:  the gate is chain locked so needs climbing, and the not-a-stile at the other end is an obstacle course.   Furthermore, when we walked there was no path through the knee high thick grass – walking though it was hard work and would be worse if wet.

If you choose to go this way, climb the gate and go diagonally left across the field, heading right of the mini pylons and for the section of trimmed lower hedge visible in front of a copse of trees.  The not-a-stile is at the left end of this stretch of straight boxy hedge.  Cross both obstacles to enter a sheep grazed field and continue with the next numbered direction.

Instead, you can ignore this gate and continue a little further down Saniger Lane to the next gate on the right – see pic below.  This gate also has to be climbed.

If you do not wish to climb a gate, you can instead simply continue up Saniger Lane to get to Berkeley – at a fork in the track, take the right one to get to Hook Street where this walk begins.  (The left fork takes you up to Station Road in Berkeley – the route does pop into a field to bypass where the track is a river.)

If you are happy to climb over the gate, enter this sheep grazed field and continue with the next direction.

Once over the gate, take a left diagonal towards the left corner of the copse/trees in the distance.  On reaching this corner there is a gate and stile. Go though – this gate opens easily.

Once through the gate/stile, turn left immediately and follow the fence as it curves around and becomes a hedgerow.  Keeping following the hedgerow on the left.

Before reaching a right angled corner of the field, look out for a stile which is very hidden by the hedgerow when approaching it from this direction.  The stile suddenly appears into view upon reaching it.  Go over this stile.

Ahead across just one last field to cross, the Berkeley Vale Park homes can be seen in the distance.  Follow the hedgerow on the right until reaching a T-junction with a lane/track.

Turn right down the lane to reach Hook Street and the start of the walk.

To continue Loop A back to Newtown simply go to A1.

Well done!   Hope you enjoyed the walk.

Now for Loop B…

The map is shown again here for convenience.

Map of Loops A & B - shown again here between Loops for convenience

Loop B

B1.  The start of Loop B is opposite the last house before going under the railway bridge coming from Newtown – or opposite the first house after going under the railway bridge coming from Berkeley.

Opposite the house closest to the bridge, there is a gap in the hedgerow with – at present – a broken footpath sign and a large black plastic covered bundle.  This has changed a lot since Streetview which shows a gate, stile and sign!

Sharpness Primary School can be seen on the hill to the left – the white fronted building.

Go through the gap and head up the slope, aiming for the very distant tree visible in the middle of the photo below.

B3.  As you walk up this slope, stop at least a couple of times and look back at the big views over the Severn.  As you go further on, the two power stations and the two Severn bridges can also be seen.

As you get to the top of the slope, there is some beautiful scenery up here, especially looking to the right – a lushness of buttercup meadows and bushy hedgerows and trees.

Keep going, passing Sharpness Primary School on the left.  The school is fairly well obscured by trees.  But it will not be conducive to the pupils’ learning having having a noisy, messy building site closely right behind the school for years.

Keep on to the top left hand corner of the field.  There hidden through a dark hole in the hedge is a walker’s gate.

Once through the walker’s gate, follow the left hedgerow as it curves ahead of you, and until you reach the far left corner of the field.


Option A – roadside pavement
This road route to Wanswell has a pavement and can be used as an alternative route without any risk of mud and cows.

In the far left corner of the field is a gate. Going though this gate will take you to the road from Newtown to Wanswell.  On meeting the road, go right and follow the pavement.  Follow the road as it bends to the right into Wanswell.  Pass the Salmon Inn – open with a beer garden and play equipment – and then arrive at the old Berkeley Vale secondary school.

To pick up the walk directions from Wanswell, go to B11.

Option B – cross country footpaths
In the far left corner of the field is a gate but do not go though it.  Instead, turn right and walk a short way with the hedgerow on the left.  Look for a second gate, and go through that gate.  Carry on with the next direction.

B6.  Once through the gate, turn right and follow the hedgerow on the right – but just until you get to where the hedgerow turns a corner to the right.  

Do not turn the corner but carry straight ahead, heading towards a lone Oak tree growing in the middle of the field.  Pass just to the left of the tree.

B7.  Continue straight ahead to the edge of the field.  The route carries on through a gate in a dip between fields.

The way though here gets very muddy but today – 1st June 2021 – it was passable in walking shoes by keeping to the left edge.  Where the mud looks very flat and damp, it is softer than it looks!

So stick to the left edge which is drier, as is the area under the gate should it need opening.

Did this in walking shoes - mud firmest at edges and under closed gate

B8.  Once over the mud, carry on straight ahead up the slope on a ribbed concrete track or on the grass to its right.

Should you meet an electric fence crossing the path, the end of the fence can be unhooked by using the blue or black plastic handle.  There is no need to limbo dance or hurdle!

Continue up the field on either the track or the grass to reach the top left corner of the field.

B9.  Once at the top of the field, a little to the right of the left corner is a black plastic round trough.  Just to the right of that black trough is a stile.  Go over the stile.

B10.  The stile takes you onto Rookery Lane.  Go straight ahead down the lane past a few houses on the left.  Soon the road through Wanswell is reached.

The Salmon Inn can be seen to the left and the old state secondary school – now a private school – can be seen across the road to the right.

Turn right using the pavement.

B11.  This is the Wanswell start point for Loop B.  It is on the road through Wandswell and on the pavement opposite the school.

Follow the pavement, pausing in front of the school.

The school used to be the local state secondary school which was latterly called Vale of Berkeley College and closed in 2011.  It is currently a private Brethren school.  The proposed plan is for this school to be demolished and housing built on the site and its playing fields.

B12.  Facing the school, just to the right there is a small lane.  Cross the road carefully – looking and listening – and go up this lane which is the approach to Wanswell Court Farm.

Heading down this pleasant lane, pause to look at the school playing fields visible through the trees on the left.

Continue on down this lane a bit further

B13.  Continue down the lane until reaching Wanswell Court Farm.  Then turn around and walk back up towards the road through Wanswell.

B14.  On getting back to the road through Wanswell, cross the road carefully – looking and listening – and turn right.

Follow the pavement to soon reach Rookery Lane just before the Salmon Inn.

Take a left turn down Rookery Lane.  Pass the Salmon’s front door on the right – or maybe stop and go for a drink or meal!

Alternatively, to use the roadside pavement and avoid some possible cross country risk of mud and cows, continue on the pavement and keep on the same road as it bears left towards Newtown.  At a gate immediately after a small lay-by on the left, enter the field and follow the right hedgerow down.  Cross a stile and continue down past Sharpness primary school and all the way down to the road at B1.  To continue walking from here, jump to B21 (end of Loop B).

B15.  Continue down Rookery lane, passing several houses on the right, until the lane bends to the right into Rookery Farm.  Straight ahead at the bend is stile.  Go over this stile into a field.

B16.  Head down the slope on the grass to the left of the concrete track – or possibly on the track if it is not fenced off.  If you meet an electric fence crossing your path, use the blue plastic handle to unhook it at the end – there is no need to limbo dance or hurdle!

Head for the right corner near the bottom of the track.

B17.  Continue straight down the slope to the bottom right of the field.  The route carries on through an open gate in a dip between fields. The way though here gets very muddy but today – 1st June 2021 – it was passable in walking shoes by keeping to the right edge.  Where mud looks very flat and damp, it is softer than it looks!

So stick to the right edge which is drier, as is the area under the gate should it need opening.

Did this in walking shoes - mud firmest at edges and under closed gate

B18.  Once through the mud, there are two paths, forking left and right.  Take the left fork.

If you came this way and are now on your return, note that the route back to Saniger Lane is different from here.  The outbound route came from the right fork.

Follow the slope down to the bottom left area of the field.

There are beautiful buttercup meadows and many trees in this area so pause to look at the very lush, green surroundings, especially to the left.

B19.  Look for a wooden bridge in the hedgerow and cross over the ditch.

There were a number of wild flowers clustered by this bridge including the white Lesser Stitchwort and the blue Germander Speedwell.

B20.  Follow the left hedgerow, passing Hawthorn trees – their white blossom now fading – then passing bending Willow trees – such trees do break but they regrow.

B21. Emerge onto the road – and the start of Loop B – through a gap in the hedgerow where there is currently a broken footpath sign and large black plastic covered bundle instead of a gate.

To continue Loop B back to Wanswell simply go to B1.

To continue into Loop A:  On reaching the road, go left and under the railway bridge – use the pavement by carefully crossing the road and back again, always looking and listening.  Just before meeting the main road to Berkeley, turn left to take take the old road that runs parallel to the main road.  Continue from A11.

Well done!   Hope you enjoyed the walk.