The Upton Stream

The stream is a delightful, clear chalk stream which, unusually for the “spring-line” villages, originates in the hills high up in the parish.

Nowadays it seems to rise in the deep cutting of the old railway line at the top of the hill near Chilton, from which it was piped under the railway track to emerge in a field above the George & Dragon, and from there it flows under the main Reading road (A417), between houses and gardens, to appear again in Frog Alley. Here it joins other streams and eventually finds its way down to the Thames.

In very wet years, the springs further up in Chilton village feed the stream – in very dry years it does not run at all. Normally it starts some time in January and continues to perhaps the second week in July. But with a series of dry autumns and winters, the springs have slowed and dried so that it now takes exceptional rainfall to achieve a flow at all. In wet weather, the bed also acts as a run-off for the surface water from Aldens Lane and the Lynchway (on the O.S. map it is marked rather dismissively as “drain”). Over the years we have found bits and pieces in it – a child’s Dinky car, a marble, shards of thick glass bottles, pieces of willow pattern china and a cache of sea shells, including razor shells and several oyster shells. Perhaps these shells indicate previous occupation, mediaeval or even Roman. Bank voles have taken up residence on the edge.