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We walked northwards from Hook to the peaceful village of Rotherwick (SU 7156) in August 2021.  The path (#1) takes you first through Hook itself and then into rolling, wooded countryside till you meet the main street in Rotherwick, Cowfold Lane.  There are two active inns.  One tiny village and two inns!

One fact everyone in Rotherwick seems to know about their village: the word means ‘cattle enclosure’ or ‘cattle farm’ (which is why we came).  From 1850 the local cattle market was in Reading, but before that it could well have been Blackwater Fair because the old name goes back centuries.  “Strayed from Rotherwick: two small heifers of the Welch kind, both in calf – one a light brown with little cropt horns, the other dark brown with little straight horns…Half a guinea reward.  William King, at Rotherwick.”  That was from the Reading Mercury of Christmas Eve 1781, over 60 years before the market came to Reading.  Hope they were recovered before becoming several Christmas dinners…

Which route north to Reading?  The pond where the cattle were supposed to have drunk is at the western end of the village, and we were told that a slope leading down to the water should be visible.  We couldn’t see one (#2) because it was covered in weed and reed.  Then a second informant told us the cattle didn’t start from there, they passed the pub at the eastern end of the village, The Falcon (#3) and turned left up along Wedman’s Lane and Allenmoor Lane (#4-5).  The builder of the houses on Wedman’s Lane also got permission to fill in at least one of the two village ponds at the eastern edge of the village, one either side of The Falcon.  That’s how history gets lost.

It’s a charming village, though.  Utterly quiet.  Return via Lyde Green along Frog Lane and it’s even better.  (You’ll pass another old inn, The Fox, near yet another pond, the fourth.)

So, what was special about the grass at Rotherwick?  That question no one could answer, and Google is useless too.

Rotherwick image 1
The Way from Hook...
Rotherwick image 2
The from three..
Rotherwick image 3
The Falcon
Rotherwick image 4
Rotherwick image 5
...& Allenmore.