After more than two months of rain in a fortnight it was with some relief the day dawned sunny and fair for our latest walk on Sunday. There was a 'use it or lose it' flavour to the day as we took the railway path to Calne (threatened with closure earlier in the year, but mercifully saved for the time being), and opted to use the regular 55 bus service back to Chippenham as a nod to the WI's rural bus campaign.
Five intrepid walkers set off from the entrance to Monkton Park, later joined by Diane who met us where her route from Pewsham along Hardens Lane meets the railway path at New Leaze Farm.
We took the path to the right of the River Avon in Monkton Park (facing away from the High Street), which meant we left the Park temporarily to walk along St Mary Street and Baydons Lane, before picking up the route again at the blue bridge across the river and up through the Park to join the railway path to Calne at the top of Riverside Drive. Our walk would have been a smidgeon shorter had we taken the route which stays in the Park.
Once on the railway path it's a straightforward walk through beautiful countryside to Calne. We paused on the bridge at Black Dog Hill to appreciate the peaceful walk we'd had compared to the noisy traffic below us on the A4. At Calne we had a pleasant walk alongside the Wilts & Berks Canal in Castle Park, then walked along Castle Street and crossed over the A4 in town to our final destination at Fay's Bistro for a well deserved lunch.
There was plenty to see along the way...
... not forgetting the slow worm Diane found on the path!...
...with the reward of a well deserved lunch at the end. The staff at Fay's Bistro were amazed we'd walked all the way from Chippenham!
Here's the map of our route. The numbers show the distance in kilometres, which converts to 6.5 miles in total.
Start point: At the entrance to Monkton Park by Wilkinson's
Distance: 6.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy - mainly flat parkland paths and a disused railway line (watch out for mud and cyclists!). A quiet country lane just before Black Dog Hill and some back roads through Calne, finally crossing over the A4 to reach Fay's Bistro along Beach Terrace. The route is part of Sustrans national cycle route 403.
Walk time: Around 2 and a half hours, allowing some time for photo stops and exploration along the way. Cafe time is extra.
Cafe: Fay's Bistro, Beach Terrace, Calne. Just along the river from Calne library.
Map: See above
We opted to take the 55 bus back to Chippenham, which runs every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday, and every half hour on Sundays from the Town Hall bus stop on the Strand, just over the road from where we had lunch. It's 15 minutes back to Timber Street bus station, or 20 minutes to the railway station. More energetic walkers may opt to walk the route back in reverse.
It's possible to stay in Monkton Park by taking the bridge over the river in the park to join the other pathway along the river.
Members living on the Monkton Park estate may choose to start from home and join the route in Monkton Park where convenient. Picking up the railway path at the top of Riverside Drive will be the last possible joining point from there. Members living on Pewsham may prefer to start from home and walk along Hardens Lane to join the railway path at New Leaze Farm (see the map shown in Diane's walk for more details).
Parking (if needed): One of the central car parks in Chippenham - Emery Gate, Borough Parade or Bath Road. NB These are still free on Sundays at the time of writing; check the link for up to date details and prices.