The final stage of the King’s Way, along the Itchen Valley to Winchester, via Avington, Martyr Worthy, Kings Worthy, and Abbots Barton. The Itchen Valley always makes for a beautiful walk. Today’s was enhanced by meeting a couple of pigs. Many churches along the way, and I rested in some of them. I entered the Winchester from the north, via Hyde Gate and Parchment Street, the residential area seamlessly meeting the city centre. It’s always interesting arriving at a town or city on foot. The King’s Way ends at the Cathedral, after 45 miles in total.
Eastney is at the south east corner of Portsea Island, meeting Southsea to the west and Milton to the north. Mainly residential with its late Victorian and early C20 terraces, the area near the coast is dominated by the large barracks built in the 1860s. These impressive military buildings are now apartments and the Royal Marines Museum. They were Designed by William Scamp of the Admiralty Works Department and include a water/clock tower, and the longest barrack block after Woolwich. DW Lloyd says:
The carefully laid-out site beside the seashore reflects its use by Marines; it is also probably the last large defensible barracks built in the country. Part of the best and most complete barracks of the post-Crimean War period.
Immediately to the east and west are the Eastney forts. Just to the north is the Portsmouth Pumping Station with its Beam Engine House and associated boiler room and other listed buildings on the site. Also included here, although really in Southsea, are the Eastfield Hotel (by pub architect AE Cogswell) and St Patrick’s church (a most unusual and appealing church by GE Smith). Being so different to the municipal and military architecture, these are shown first and then all of the listed buildings of Eastney (apart from Fort Cumberland.)
Today we walked for an hour, maybe an hour and a half in the area of Gilbert Street, just north of the South Downs National Park. Gilbert Street sounds like a street. It isn’t, just part of the loosely connected settlements in the Ropley/Monkwood/North Street area, southwest of Alton.
From Ropely we crossed a vast hayfield to towards Lyewood House:
A good walk with many changes of countryside within quite a small area.
Droxford is a Hampshire village situated in the Meon Valley. It has the busy A32 running through the middle of it, with the river Meon just to the East along with the former Meon Valley Railway. Most of the old buildings are right on the main road, with some set back on Mill Lane and near the church. In the village you will find listed cottages and houses from the C15 to the C19, although mainly Georgian. Larger houses are the Manor House (II*), Fir Hill, West House and The Old Rectory (II*). Next to the river is the church, of Norman origin. Out of the village are some listed farmhouses, barns and their C18 granaries.
Here I present all of the listed buildings in the parish, except for a couple of barns that I couldn’t get access to. Thank you to all the property owners who gave me permission to photograph. My favourites today are The Malt House and Mill Cottage, appearing first.
Woke at seven after going to sleep just after eleven.
Deep dreams these nights. Scenarios that last and last. I can’t leave them, even if I want to, and last nights was a continual getting ready to leave a hotel-like place, or maybe a hall of residence. But I was too drunk. Or disorganised. Long time periods would pass and I’d done nothing at all to prepare.
Sitting this morning was uneventful. Some unsettledness was close by, so I moved towards it, yet most of the time all was lost in little thought stories. However, a sense of deepening stillness behind the thinking bubbles. Sat in half lotus some of the time but soon got pins and needles so back to both feet on the ground, one leg slightly in front of the other, so that neither leg weighs on the other.
A simple yoga sequence today after the long review of poses yesterday. Shoulder stand, plough, forward bend. Repeat. Sit quietly. And that’s it. Some nervy sensations back of the neck. The flaw in today’s routine – straight into the shoulder stand with no warm ups. I should know that this isn’t a good idea, especially with my prone to be stiff neck, so suffering all day from very stiff trapezius both sides.
Then an open day with absolutely no plans. Put together the walk video from yesterday:
A nap before lunch. A shortish walk with C in the afternoon, laughing together at many things. Otherwise, listening to music, and looking at suggestions from this Reddit post: What’s the one song you’d recommend for someone to listen to to get into your music genre? Most interesting for me was the chill wave, underground jazz hip hop and the chillstep. Watched some elephants on the telly. Incredible creatures! To bed early to continue reading the 60s yoga book.
The penultimate stage of my King’s Way hike, from where I left off on the Downs, not too far from Cheesefoot Head, down into the Itchen Valley via Tichborne. The church there has 11th Century origins, and at Ovington church there’s a Norman archway. Otherwise, rolling downland, open skies, arable land ready for harvest, curious calves, a gorgeous pub location, lamas, woods, then the bass and slight chaos of the Boomtown Fair at Mattersley Bowl, closing some of the South Downs Way for a week.
Woke at seven, after sleeping at eleven.
A good, satisfying meditation. Soon came the feelings of bliss, and a sense of light. Before long, there was that nagging feeling of looking in the wrong place or of neglecting something, so then I looked in that direction instead of the usual fritting about in thought, and there it was, the raw emotion of fear. So now that got bathed in the light of the mind emptied. What is the point of an empty mind and bliss when there is something left out? No, meditation has to include it all. It’s a total thing, or as total as it can be at any sitting, given that there are blind spots and deeper neglects waiting to be felt, addressed, acknowledged, listened to, unfolded, bathed. And then they are no longer what they were, what I thought they were, once met fully. So, to follow the nagging . It’s there waiting to be followed and soon, on the following of the gritty areas, even more ecstasy arises as the conflict dissolves. There’s the feeling, then the unfolding, bathing, and then passing beyond to newness and change.
Once I felt no more fear, I moved down into the body, as that has to be included too. I got as far as the stiff neck before the hour was up. What’s the good of a clear mind and heart if the body is still riddled? Again, include it all. No short cuts or fooling oneself.
I’m left with a curious longing in my heart. I’m following its lead as I begin today’s yoga.
Stopping in between postures is so important. This is when the energy of the posture can go to work on the system. I stop still for a minute and let everything settle down again , and for whatever has arisen to go where it wants to go. A strange pulsing at the base of the spine, rhythmical and pleasurable. Eyes fluttering. A little daydream. Pause. Then on to the next pose, steady and attentive.
I’m more and more interested in doing what is real and not what other people are concerning themselves a with. Not that what they are doing isn’t real, but my concern with their actions or opinions is immaterial and fading. Not to be self obsessed but our own selves are the important thing, how we are spending our on time an what’s going on within us. It’s easy to spend a lot of time concerned about others. No one needs your concern, even if they crave your attention.
At 11, out for a walk on the South Downs, continuing along the Allan King’s Way, the second to last stage. I parked up on Gander Down, where I got to last time, and hiked over the rolling countryside and down to Tichborne. From there it was a short hop over the A31 and further downhill to Ovington. Old cottages on the lane down to the river and the Bush Inn, in high contrast to lorry drivers shitting in the woods just above. A quick lunch in the shady garden then along the valley a bit on Lovington Lane, and left the King’s Way to head back to the Downs. The normally peaceful countryside now with bass on the breeze. The Boomtown Fair at Mattersley Bowl. After some shade on winding paths through woods, and back over the A31, my route took me into the car park. I had no idea it would. So there I was, hiking into the festival grounds. I explained to the security why I had no wrist band and where I wanted to go. It was like walking alongside some sort of prison. A trench had been dug outside of a high, green fence. A woman sat on guard high on a corner watch tower. Ska music early afternoon. The party one day in. Later, along the South Downs Way again, I met a few walking to the site. They had a ladder for the fence. Join us, they said. I forgot to tell them about the guard tower so I don’t expect they got in. Their van was parked near my car, scribbled graffiti and twitter accounts all over it.
A sleep back at home, then good to lounge about after the walking. Snippets of TV. Tyre walls on Grand Designs. An elephant mourning the loss of its friend. The brother in Little Miss Sunshine not speaking ‘because of Nietzsche’. Uploaded this from our Swedish holiday last month:
Came back from a night in London with a foot detoxification bath thing. I’ve no idea what it’s about but I stuck my feet in for half an hour. The water stunk! It felt nice around my toes, like bicarb of soda. Even if nothing else happened, my feet felt really clean and light afterwards.
Portsea was Old Portsmouth’s first suburb, outside of the defensive walls of the old town and of the naval base. Formerly known as Portsmouth Common, the area quickly outgrew Old Portsmouth. It was heavily bombed in WWII but dotted among the C20 and C21 redevelopments are a few C19 town houses, St George’s church in the New England Colonial style, and The George Inn. In Bishop Street there’s the old ironworks and warehouses of the Treadgold company, an interesting mix of former houses and C19 warehouses. A couple of the houses-turned-workshop hint at the former slums in this area. The university to the East has acquired the former barracks at Mildam, next to the registry office.
Just to the south is Gunwharf, the former HMS Vernon and ordnance site for the Royal Navy. Sold privately, some of the historic naval buildings have been very well restored: the impressive Vulcan Block, the infirmary and the Old Customs House, once the ordnance offices. Nearby is the former gated entrance and King James Gate, removed from Broad Street, Old Portsmouth.
The fifth stage of my King’s Way hike, from Featherbed Lane near Owslebury, through Bushy Copse and up onto the South Downs at Old Down. An already warm early morning turning to hot by the time I reached Cheesefoot Head. With some shade dotted about, the walk continued around Temple Valley, merging with the South Downs Way. I left the King’s way at Rodfield Lane on Gander Down, to head back south, via some woodlands and Longwood House, with its deep rhododendron plantations. 28 degrees by the time I finished and still only around midday.
Hen Wood lies between West Meon and East Meon, south of Westbury Park, at the northern end of the Meon Valley. It’s one of the larger woods in the area where I live, but is only about two square km. (This shows how broken up the woodlands are in Central Hampshire.) Still, where there isn’t woodland the area is very sparsly populated. I did see one stunning newbuild home at East End, and met one of the owners nearby. I couldn’t tell whether I had right to walk in the woods. I suppose not, but there were none of the usual PRIVATE NO RIGHT OF WAY signs placed near to the footpaths.
I started at Westbury House, a care home, former school and private home. Just behind the house, the footpath leads south, and very soon I was in atmospheric woods, with many well established trees.
Old farm machinery near Horsedown Farm:
After the old farmhouse, the tracks become wider, at the east of the woods.
Each tree has its own character:
Near Halnaker Lane, some views across the Meon Valley to the north to Riplington and Drayton:
And at the south side of the wood, some views to the South Downs, specifically Salt Hill and Teglease Down:
Walking quickly past a clay pigeon shooting area, I headed north east, downhill toward Coombe Lane:
Views from the lane:
Reentering the woods at Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve, I peaked into Westbury Park, and watched the crop waves in the wind:
At its northern end, the lane crosses the Meon. I really like this early 20th Century type of white road barrier:
Then into a field of calves with their mothers. Even the cows were curious and they all followed me across the field:
I stopped at a delightful spot at the river, under a large tree. Timeless:
Then I was back in the grounds of the house, looking for the remains of the church. I saw this ruin but it doesn’t look church-like:
Snooped about the grounds a bit, sort of pretending to be a visitor. Well I was, but not to a guest. The house was rebuilt after a fire in the early 1900s:
Last view into the park:
TE Owen was responsible for some additional building away from the lodges and villas of western Southsea. At South Parade there is one of his terraces, and just behind in Eastern Villas Road, three more. He also built two chapels and a lodge at the Highland Road Cemetery. Elsewhere, the drained land of Southsea was quickly built upon, with road after road of terraced houses, generally developing west to east. Interspersed in these residential areas are the large Victorian and Edwardian structures: the schools, town churches, a former convent, and the entertainment centres of The Kings Theatre and The Plaza, which is now the mosque. Near the theatre is a set of mill cottages next to which there used to be a windmill. Here I present the listed buildings of Southsea, away from the western terraces and the main part of TE Owen’s Southsea.
The fourth stage of my King’s Way walk, from the palace in the south Hampshire town, north-west across the wooded lower downs, into the South Downs National Park. This walk passes Wintershill with its Roman Road, Upham, Blackdown (great views), Baybridge, finishing north-east of Owslebury. Georgeous countryside, very rural, bright spring sunshine and some very curious calves.
In the 19th Century Southsea spread eastwards from the initial building east of the Portsmouth walls. This growth was slow at first, from around 1830-60, with the creation of the villa suburbs around Kent Road, Sussex Road, Queens Crescent, Portland Road, Grove Road South, The Vale and Villers Road. These roads were planned and built for the most part by TE Owen, who gave them a spacious feel with walled gardens, curved roads and gentrified villas, lodges and terraces. It’s some kind of leafy, expensive, stucco heaven. He centred this new suburb on St Jude’s Church (1851). To the south are Netley and Clifton Terraces, by Gauntlett.
Thank you to all the owners who allowed me on their property to get better views. Here I present the listed buildings of central Southsea, along with some general views, starting with my favourite today, 3 Queens Place:
In the early Nineteenth Century, building spread outside of the city’s defensive walls with their moats and vast ravelins. Facing the battlements to the west, running north to south, several terraces were established, beginning around 1809. Southsea meets Portsmouth here and the space offered must have been very appealing compared to the cramped conditions of Old Portsmouth and Portsea. From the north, the terraces are named Hampshire, Landport, King’s, Jubilee and Bellevue. Much of the area was bombed in WWII and since modified, but many of the early C19 houses survive, with the characteristic maritime bay windows seen in Old Portsmouth. Behind the terraces, small streets were established by skilled tradesmen: the ‘mineral streets’ of Croxton Town – but were all bombed. Just further east are Great Southsea Street and Castle Street, with many plain but stylish town houses, my favourite designs, and a couple of older villas, along with early 1900s pubs and antique shops. Southsea Lodge was built in the C18, before there really was a Southsea, and before it was a resort, in what must have been a fairly rural area. To the north are a couple of other pockets of C19 houses, in King Street and Gloucester View and Mews. Gloucester View is a well kept secret, a superb terrace of identical houses in a cul-de-sac. Gloucester Mews in Norfolk Street hints at Owen’s Southsea to come. Park Lodge may have been built by T. E. Owen’s father. Further west towards the old city are the former Clarence Barracks, now Portsmouth Museum, a quite spectacular affair built for officers, and the Victorian lower school of the grammar school.
Here I present the listed buildings of west Southsea, and Portsmouth east of the wall:
How King’s Terrace once looked:
Not far to the north west of where I live is the largest wood in the area, Cheriton Wood. It’s near the site of one of the famous battles in the (Un)Civil War. I think it was closed to the public for most of the time I’ve lived here but is now open under the CROW Act. Here are some images from walking through the woods, and just outside the trees.
Third stage of the Allan King’s Way.
A spring walk from the village of Hambledon in East Hampshire to Bishop’s Waltham with its Medieval palace, on market day. The path crosses the Meon Valley at Soberton before climbing to the semi-urban areas of Swanmore and Waltham Chase. This walk linked up places I hadn’t thought of as being near each other, intersecting the usual transport and valley routes.
Here we have the central area of Old Portsmouth. High street runs from just inside the now flattened defensive town walls, down to the coast near to the Square Tower, where it meets Broad Street and Grand Parade, just past the cathedral. At the north eastern end are the former Cambridge Barracks, now the Portsmouth Grammar School. In between are many C18 and C19 town houses, pubs and a former bank. Grand Parade is next to the Royal Garrison Church, and Penny Street runs parallel with the High Street, with a few surviving pre-war buildings. The narrow Peacock lane joins the two streets. Pembroke Road joins Old Portsmouth to Southsea, where along with Landport, gentrified properties overspilled when the old town got too crowded. The Cathedral was started in the C13 and underwent many additions over the centuries, including a large extension to the south west in the 1990s. To the north is Landport Gate, redesigned in 1760 and remaining in its original location but without the earth banks of the walls either side. Here are all the listed buildings of this area and a couple of street views:
A map of Portsmouth in 1762, showing the defensive walls and extent of the old town:
This area of Old Portsmouth feels very nautical, with narrow town houses, usually three story, squeezed in to form non-uniform terraces, many with those characteristic maritime bays on the first floor. Lombard Street and St Thomas Street are just east of The Camber harbour, with The Point being on the west side: Broad Street and Bath Square leading towards the narrow entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. All of this area was within the old walled city. Apart from the town houses, one can find fortifications, an old savings bank, historic inns, a former bathing house (Quebec House), the Popinjays warehouse, the sailing club and an old customs watch house with an observation hut. Most of the buildings are C18, with some C17 and C19. The landmark former Seagull Restaurant is from the early C20.
The listed buildings of Lombard Street and St Thomas Street, Old Portsmouth:
Broad Street Portsmouth:
The listed buildings of The Point / Spice Island, Old Portsmouth:
Bath Square, Old Portsmouth:
New Alresford is about 7 miles east of Winchester. The ‘New’ distinguishes it from Old Alresford village a mile to the north. The old part of New Alresford centres around East St, West St and Broad St, a T-shape. Pretty much the entirety of this area is listed. Broad street is probably the best-known street in the town, for it’s grand scale and colourful Georgian buildings. Many of the buildings have carriage entrances leading to the back of the buildings.
Here’s a panorama shot of the street, looking north, followed by the listed buildings of this street:
Crumbling away, still very apparent in most places, the Meon Valley railway line ran between Alton and Fareham in Hampshire. The dismantled railway passes a few miles from my home, near West Meon Hut and at the village. It was quite an engineering undertaking considering the small populations along its route, serving only villages along its 23 miles. This is probably why it only lasted 50 years or so – that and Gosport and Stokes Bay not taking off as tourist destinations. Most of the bridges remain, as does the station platform just south of West Meon. Nothing is left of the iron viaduct except some foundations, abutments and the mighty embankments either edge of the river Meon. Here’s my tour:
First up, the north end of West Meon Tunnel. This is near West Meon Hut. The tunnel entrance is locked and it’s used to store caravans. It’s private property but some bloke fixing his motorhome said I could take some photos.
Just to the north, Vinnels lane crosses the old line, now infilled almost to the height of the bridge, by soil and by trash:
West Meon Station building is dismantled. It was situated just south of the village along, yes, Station Road:
Some views of the old platform, being eaten by nature:
At one point the platform lowers to allow people to walk across the line: