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.
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:
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.
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.
In warm sunshine and cool winter air, we walked from the hamlet of Chidden on the South Downs to Hambledon and back again in a loop.
With larks calling high above (where are they?) we proceeded south from the village over open downland:
Some winter flowers hinting at spring:
Into Park Wood:
Bird of prey scarecrow:
Cricket has been played up on Windmill Down, Hambledon for more than 250 years:
View north to Leydene Park:
Hambledon vineyards, producing English ‘champagne’:
Into the village. Very nice. Very expensive. Sports cars in front of cottages:
Footpath north through the vineyards:
Panorama north to Chidden Down:
And back to Chidden:
In bright winter sunshine in a crisp breeze we walked a loop of a few km from East Meon church:
From the graveyard the path rapidly ascends 100m up into Park Hill giving great views over the village. Very soon we were higher than the steeple:
Even higher above some red kites effortlessly circled over a corn field. A local said they had been recently introduced:
On the top of the hill looking east to the south downs stretching away in the haze beyond Butser Hill:
The rolling grassland of Park Hill near to Vineyard Hole. (Now there are some vines nearer the village at the Court House.)
On the Bereleigh Estate, Park Farm. The ice on the pond would be soon to melt:
Hey you forgot the hay!
Over open country, down through Rookham Copse, over the road to Pidham Lane. These sunken lanes with trees on the bank always remind me of The Fellowship of the Ring:
Old lanes eaten up by motorbikes and sodden led us to the gravel of the Greenway Track:
No cars. Look how dated the sign design is, some kind of 1960s car:
Frogmore lies to the east of East Meon. Only 2km from its source, the Meon turns west here into the Meon Valley proper. Old cottages and a bridge here:
Taking the lane instead of more mud in the fields, we were soon in the village, with it’s thatched cottages and Georgian houses and pub:
Then back to the church in it’s downland situation:
The old Court House c14 onwards:
Scarecrow at the village allotments:
It’s rained a lot recently so we stuck to lanes this morning. Paths are crazy muddy right now. Starting out just north of Gundleton, Hampshire’s best named village, an hour’s loop:
The order of the photos has got muddled and so shall the order of the descriptions. Here are some geese at a small farm in Gundleton:
Snowdrops on Goscombs Lane:
Two bulls at the farm. The lighter one dominated and soon walked in front of the other, blocking his view of us.
Pigs in the barn and a curious goose:
The cows were eating what looks like watercress:
A wet and muddy horse:
Many plants were pushing through for spring, the green so bright. Here’s some moss that also seemed to have a glow on:
A pair of donkeys:
I think this was called Clivedon. Totally old school bungalow:
A place called The Coffee Tavern. No sign of it being a cafe:
A thatched cottage at Bighton Dean:
The Three Horseshoes Public House. Proper old school again Also known as The Three Osees:
The Old House at Bighton. Digging the windows:
Pines at Bighton Dean Lane:
Looking west from Bighton Lane:
I’m not sure which house this is. Perhaps Bighton Manor:
Windybanks Cottage in Bighton:
There’s no ‘r’ in Bighton:
The first stage of the Allan King’s Way, from Portchester Castle to Nelson’s Monument on Portsdown Hill. I then continued along the hill a way and back to Portchester at sunset. On the way: Portsmouth Harbour, Wicor, Foxbury Point, Cams Bay, Downend, Fort Nelson, DSTL Research Base, Portchester Common, Paulsgrove Lake, then the Roman Fort and castle right on the water’s edge.
One of my favourite walks so far, despite its proximity to urban areas.
Alice Holt Forest
A walk around some of Alice Holt, from Bentley station. Many types of trees, many squirrels, a fox, some people
A circular walk from the Hampshire village of Shawford, up Shawford Down to Compton and out to Silkstead then to Yew Hill and Compton Down.
For the final stage of the 100-mile SDW, I took the Coastal Route from the downland village of Alfriston, through the Cuckmere valley, across the Seven Sisters Country park with its bright white cliffs, via Birling Gap, up to Beachy Head before leaving the downs, descending into Eastbourne and it’s seafront promenade. A thoroughly enjoyable last twelve miles – a classic!
From the Hampshire village of Beaulieu to the town of Lymington, the Solent Way proceeds south then west. At first it follows the bank of the Beaulieu River to Bucklers Hard, where many of Nelson’s fleet was built. Two unique terraces of Georgian houses survive. The path then head inland to St Leonards Grange, Sowley and Walhampton, with its oversized monument. The walk finishes in maritime Lymington, with cobbled streets and historic quay. It was surprising to see the wild (if owned) donkeys of the New Forest right there on the streets of Beaulieu. While much of this stage is on tarmac, the lanes were quiet even on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Wanting to explore the area to the north of Butser Hill, east of East Meon, south of Stroud, we parked in the small Hampshire village of Ramsdean. The area is more varied than is often found around the South Downs, with small streams, undulating countryside and ancient lanes between meadows and copses. The track from Ramsdean to Stroud (pr. strood) is a delight, with warn stone underfoot and steep banks up to beeches overhanging the path. Very hobbit-like. We turned north off the track towards Langrish, up through meadows with great views of Butser Hill behind us. Then down through Mustercoombe Copse almost as far as Stroud, meeting a herd of cows, both curious and literally shit scared of us. Then it was back onto the ancient track to the village with its cottages and farms.
The beginning of one of my favourite months of the year.
Evening at Chithurst monastery with two friends for the dhamma talk which follows some chanting (in English tonight) and forty minutes quiet sitting. Probably about fifty lay people and twenty monks. The talk was by the Abbott, some pointers for meditation practice. He always surprises me with his worldliness, speaking of browsing the internet, walking through London. A monk’s life is not entirely how I imagine. I get distracted a little from the talk by the monk’s heads. They fascinate me, their shape and hairlessness.
Afternoon at home. Made another intros video. That’s musical intros not dating intros. Discovered that youtube let it be if you use less than 30 seconds of a song, and anything over that gets picked up by their musical analysis algorithms and a copyright notice is given. They seem to let that slide to a large extent too, saying there is a claim but they will allow the video and that they might put an add next to the video. This is just a download link to iTunes. I’m enjoying selecting the music, discounting anything with vocals or voice samples in the intro, and doing it letter by letter. Today artists beginning with D.
This morning hiking with Roland who is visiting Brockwood for a little while. We drove to West Meon then hiked along the old railway then up to Old Winchester Hill. Our usual route. Chatting about this and that, seriously and light heartedly. Usually we are talking about women by the time we reach the top of the hill. After a break, we posed for photos up on the old hill fort.
Alarm is set for 0630. Want to try a regular wake up time now that it’s only getting a little light around then. Starting an Iyengar home course – more about which soon.
Continuing east-west along the Solent Way, from the ferry at Hythe to the Hampshire village of Beaulieu. This is an inland stage once leaving Southampton Water, entering into the New Forest through Fawley Inclosure, Beaulieu Heath, to Hilltop, then down into the village itself on the banks of the River Beaulieu where I was sort of attacked by a goose. Disappointingly, most of the walk is along roadsides, or very near the road. I’d really like to see an alternative route for the Solent Way to the East of Beaulieu.
Apologies for the dirty image. It’s not on the lens but inside the camera.
A Hampshire walk from Wickham including Webbs Land Farm, Botley Wood, Stonyfield Copse, Funtley, River Meon, Knowle Village, Knowle Asylum Cemetery, Mayles, and finishing on the Meon Valley Trail with a wedding taking place at Wickham Church, the bells ringing out. Lots of horses and a reunion of a pony with its mother.
How the hospital/asylum once looked. The cemetery is in the woods top right.
The 5th stage of the Solent way, east to west. Around 6 miles, from the Warsash ferry at Hamble to the Hythe Ferry at Town Quay Southampton. The path leads from Hamble-le-Rice village, south to the common to pick up Southampton Water shoreline, then past Hamble oil terminal to Netley with its ruined Abbey and Victoria Country Park, then to Weston Shore, entering Southampton at Woolston, the aircraft and shipyards long gone, replaced with Centenary Quay. The across the huge expanse of 1977’s Itchen Bridge and through part of Southampton old town, with some walls and fortifications remaining.
The oil terminal at Hamble collects oil piped in from the field at Wareham in Dorset, 50 miles away, averaging 2-3 million gallons per day.
Much of Howard’s Way was filmed in Hamble. I quite like the theme tune: