A local’s guide to Yateley
- Credit: Emma Caulton
Film star Bradley Cooper was spotted in the Co-op and actor Tom Hardy was seen tucking into sausage and mash at a local pub. Seems incongruous? That’s Yateley – as the locals explain to Emma Caulton
In the northeast corner of the county, where the River Blackwater forms the boundary with Berkshire, sits Yateley.
It was classified as a town in 1975 – however with its pretty greens, network of lakes, acres of heathland and smattering of medieval farmhouses, old inns and handsome country houses, Yateley has the feel of a very comfortable village. There are small parades of mostly independent shops.
A new weekly Tuesday market was launched in November to provide an opportunity for local producers. There’s even a troupe of Morris Men.
To the west lies charming Eversley where Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, was rector. To the south is Yateley Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area because of its importance for wildlife. This is an unexpected escape – nearly 500 acres of heathland and woodland with open skies and distant views, where bird calls chime through the air and rare birds and insects thrive. Beyond this is Hawley Woods – often used to shoot TV series and films as it’s a wooded location within reach of film and TV studios. Hence the frequency of starry faces in the local area. The latest is rumoured to be Hollywood blockbuster Infinite starring Mark Wahlberg and set to premier this August. See if you can spot Hampshire on screen!
Rebecca Cornthwaite, business development manager, Blackbushe Airport
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Blackbushe was built in 1941 and operated as RAF Hartford Bridge in support of the war effort with Boston Bombers, Mosquitos, Mustangs and Spitfires using the airport. After the war, Blackbushe continued to operate military and civilian flights. By 1955 the airport was handling 36,000 movements per year. However, in 1960 the Ministry of Civil Aviation closed Blackbushe in favour of building Gatwick. Blackbushe later reopened in private ownership as a general aviation airfield. Today it is predominantly a training airport with four privately owned flying schools; executive jets and helicopters also use Blackbushe.
Rebecca’s local life
“We’re lucky to be based here: we’re surrounded by green space, but have all the facilities we need close by. There’s also a strong community spirit locally and we like to involve Scout and Guide groups by hosting summer evening tours of the airport.”
Something special: “Blackbushe is the home of Aerobility, a disabled flying charity. Aerobility’s Blackbushe Hangar was opened by Buzz Aldrin in 2015. Aerobility aims to use the challenges of flight and exposure to aviation as a tool for improving the lives of those with a disability. Working with ex-military personnel, Aerobility has supported more than 250 former soldiers and helped
them recover from a range of injuries including limb loss, head injuries, shrapnel and gunshot wounds and PTSD. Many have flown solo, achieved their pilot licences and entered employment!”
Favourite pub: “We love The Ely. It’s close to the airport and was once an old coaching inn.” The Ely is closed at present, but home delivery of beer boxes is available via the website.
Shop: “Our most utilised shop in Yateley is KT Textiles [who also have an online service]. They provide a lot of our branded uniform.”
Walk: “A few of us are dog owners and we have great common land on our doorstep as well as the disused runways tucked away to the north of the airport, which are a bit of a secret, although open to the public for recreational activities such as walking. Remnants of old parts of the airfield are dotted around Yateley Country Park and give an idea of how large the airport was back in wartime.”
Overnight stays: “Warbrook House [an 18th century Grade I listed mansion] is a great option for visiting flight crews.”
Local event: “This year we are hosting the Twilight Runway Challenge on 26 September organised by the Community Matters Partnership Project with 3k, 5k and 10k runs. We hope it will become a local favourite!”
Day out: “We have four flying schools based on the airport that range from microlights to fixed wing and helicopters. Trial lessons are available to those who want to try before making a commitment.” The airport is currently closed, but vouchers can be purchased for trial lessons and are valid for a year.
David Martin, Yateley Men’s Shed
Yateley Men’s Shed, next to Yateley Village Hall, was formed about two years ago as part of a national group aiming to provide a space for men to meet, make friends, and enjoy working on practical projects together under the slogan Make Friends, Make Things, Make Tea. There are more than 400 sheds in the UK and each one is slightly different depending on the interests of its members. In Yateley they focus on woodwork with a well-equipped workshop. No specific skill or experience of woodworking is needed as the group comprises all levels of skill and there is always someone around to provide help if needed. Currently about 40-strong, Yateley Men’s Shed always welcomes new members, and will be doing so again when this sociable facility reopens after the current lockdown and the kettle is back on.
David’s local life
“Yateley is a very diverse area. To some it is an easy commute into London, to others it still has a village feel, despite being a town. It is surrounded by gorgeous countryside in one of the best parts of the country, northeast Hampshire.”
Local event: “Yateley May Fair [cancelled this year] with displays, entertainments and all the usual stalls is held on The Green, free to attend, and usually a major fund-raiser for Yateley Men’s Shed.”
Favourite café: “I like the Bushe Café at the airport. They do a really good selection of breakfasts, including a favourite of mine, the Polish sausage and mushroom one. They also have a patio – perfect for watching the aircraft.”
Walk: “In Eversley, Bramshill Forest is mile upon mile of good walking. Whether you want a 20-minute stroll, or a ten-mile hike, it doesn’t fail to deliver.”
Emma Gilchrist-Thompson started working at Yateley Jewellers on Saturdays when she was 15 years old, only leaving when the shop closed. She returned five years ago after Paul Denslaw reopened the shop, as he had always liked the jewellery shop’s location. Jade Blackmore joined a year later, also starting by working Saturdays. She remembers coming in on her 16th birthday when her Mum bought her a sapphire diamond ring, and Jade asked them to call her if they ever needed someone to work there. Jade says: “I had my gold and silver bangles made here. You work here and you spend your money here as well!”
Jade and Emma’s local life
“What is special about Yateley? The people. Everybody looks out for everybody else. It is very villagey. People are just friendly; they pop in just to say hello.”
Favourite pub: “The Dog & Partridge – it’s the hub of the village and everyone raves about it.”
Café: “There’s a really nice one next to the church called Café 46. It’s run by the church and my Dad volunteers there. It’s always packed and serves good homemade cakes.”
Restaurant: “Rice is nice, and I’ve heard good things about Italian restaurant La Galleria.”
Shop: “Yateley Cobbler! We often work with him as he does engraving for us.”
Beauty: “Cocoon is lovely. I’ve had facials and back massages; it is pampering time out.”
Gyms: “We’ve used Yateley Leisure & Fitness which is part of Yateley School, and Frogmore Leisure Centre.” Both are currently closed however Frogmore Leisure offers a monthly digital package for working out at home and Yateleys are running online classes and have useful links to keeping fit during lockdown.
Walks: “We’ve a dog and enjoy dog walking all the way round Horseshoe Lakes, where they also do water activities. Yateley Common is also good for walking and has a few different entrances – so it is really accessible.”
Local event: “Gig on the Green is a feel-good festival with great tribute acts and local musical talent.” This year’s event is scheduled for 27 to 28 June and still on at time of writing; organisers suggest families bring deckchairs and picnics.
Emma Caulton visited Yateley prior to the launch of travel and socialising restrictions.