Finchampstead Playing fields were purchased for the local residents just after the second world war in gratitude for winning the war.
The playing fields themselves are quite impressive and very large. The cricket pitch has even hosted international games. As well as a cricket pitch, there are football pitches, tennis courts and a lot of space for locals to run around and kick a ball about on. There is also a reasonable sized playground for the kids and a basketball hoop.
The fields are actually bigger than at first appear as they are broken in half by a big hedge in the middle. This hedge has gaps in in places so is easy to walk through.
There will be a bit of a theme to these Finchampstead tips... Quite a lot of lakes, woods and parkland.
This lake is Heathlake, which is directly off the Nine Mile Ride, near Saint Sebastians (school and church) and Ravenswood.
Heathlake was originally made at the request of the Palmer family (as in Huntley and Palmer's biscuits) - see my Reading pages for more information. They owned the land and paid for workmen to dig out a lake. The lake has since been donated to the local people, and is managed by Wokingham District Council. The council are now in the process of removing pine, birch and rhododendron trees/shrubs to return the land to a more natural heathland habitat. This should encourage very rare plants to grow back such as lowland heather. This is not expected to be a quick process.
On the lake are many ducks and swans, and it is a popular place to feed them and walk dogs. There is also a small island in the middle which has some large nesting birds on, but I have as of yet been unable to tell what they are!
Note:- This is Heathlake, which should not be confused with Heath Pool in Simon's Wood. They are a mile or two apart.
I don't know whose house this is, but I drive past it frequently. Most of the time it looks quite unexciting, and the garden looks like a mass of small green shrubs.
Then in Springtime, the Azaleas go crazy and the colour is amazing with lots of reds, purples, pinks and whites. Nobody seems to ever noice this house, which is a bit of a shame as it really is stunning in Springtime, even if it is very anonymous the rest of the year.
I won't say exactly where this house is (it is alongside a main road however) as it probably isn't fair, but enjoy the colour!
In case you are interested, the picture was taken mid May, and there are a lot of Azaleas and Rhododendrons flowering at this time.
Yes, California really is in Finchampstead, but not the one you are thinking of. California Country Park is a great place to take the kids. It has a paddling pool (summer only), a good playground/adventure playground for the kids, and a big lake full of ducks, geese and swans that enjoy being fed. There are also very good walks around the lake. Best of all, it is all free (although there are parking charges sometimes).
An area of outstanding natural beauty which has a carpark just off of Wellingtonia Avenue. There are very picturesque woods and a very pretty lake which looks very good at sunset (the attached picture was taken shortly before sunset). The best way to see it is to stroll through the woods and walk around the lake, just taking your time.
One of my favourite spots in the local area. Wellingtonia Avenue consists of around 100 Californian Redwood trees and was planted in 1863 to commemorate the Duke of Wellington.
Around 20 years ago a fungus threatened to wipe out the trees, and one died, but fortunately the rest were saved.
Even if you just drive down the road, it is well worth visiting, however at one end there is the Finchampstead Ridges which are worth stopping off, and a short walk back down the avenue from there is Simon's Wood and Heath Lake.
If you can't drive there, the Avenue is around two minutes walk from Crowthorne Railway Station (one stop down the line from Wokingham).
Finchampstead Ridges is a 60 acre common that has heather and bracken and numerous trees growing on it. Due to its elevated position, it has great views into Hampshire and Surrey and also the River Blackwater.
The Ridges as it is commonly known amongst locals was recently won the top prize in a BBC Natural History Campaign poll for Berkshire.
The Ridges was purchased by public subscription and was handed over to the National Trust in 1913. It is free for anyone to walk through and is a popular haunt for dog walkers. It is also very popular when it snows as the hills make some good sledge runs - although you do have to watch out for the trees (I speak from personal experience here!).
Saint James' Church was started around 1066, and still retains these current walls. The current shape of the church is little changed from around 1150, although the red brick tower was built around 1720.
There is a nice walk through the church yard, and then alongside some fields down to Fichampstead playing fields where on a summers evening you can watch cricket.
Just down from the church is the Royal Oak pub which has a nice beer garden and is a nice place to get a pint.
Around the church are several oak trees. Some of these have been planted to commemorate jubilees of various monarchs, including those of Queen Elizabeth II.