Weekend Walk 36 – Hamble to Southampton – Solent Way

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:

I’ve walked this area in another video early on in my series of filmed hikes. More on Victoria Park here


Weekend Walk 35 – Lee-on-Solent to Warsash (Solent Way)

Continuing the Solent Way after a break for winter, this is the fourth stage. I started around 10am from Lee-on-Solent, past Hill Head, Titchfield Haven, Meon Shore, Brownwich Cliffs, Chilling Cliffs, Hook, and on to Warsash. From just north of the village, the Solent Way goes via ferry to Hamble, but I stopped today on the eastern shore. On the way I saw dogs (many), jetskis, birds, helicopters, the Isle of Wight, the nature reserve, erodind cliffs, fawley power station, oil refinery, and the village of Warsash.

Maysleith Walk

As soon as one crosses from Hampshire to West Sussex things turn a little bit odd, a little bit spooky, a little bit weird. I don’t know why. This is completely unfounded but I feel it every time. It’s fun to go over the border and explore a little into this wigglier county. Today we went to Maysleith, which isn’t really a place but there’s a wood and a hanger and an old house. It’s near the villages of Milland and Rake. We parked near Combeland Farm and walked north east underneath Maysleith Wood and then Maysleith Hanger, past Maysleith House (C17). Then a steep climb of path and stone steps up to the top of the hill. Soon we were in the churchyard of St Lukes church (Milland and Rake parishes). Unusually there is also a chapel in the same grounds. Tuxlith chapel was built in the 16th Century but there was probably something older on the site. Around it and the church were many rather bumpy graves, each with its own spongy mound. Some of the headstones were headirons, rusty and so very Victorian. The path took us through the woods near the old A3 then down through moss-banked tracks and to the start on Canhouse Lane.

Here’s some of what we saw:

Solent Way Video, Stages 2 and 3

Continuing my hike along the Solent Way along the south coast of Hampshire, here are Stages 2 and 3, from Hilsea to Portsmouth Harbour, then yesterday from the Gosport side, along to Lee-on-the-Solent.

Stage 2: From Ports Creek in Hilsea down the east side of Portsea Island through Milton and Eastney to the seafront at Southsea. Then past South Parade pier (looking pretty shoddy these days) along to Clarence Pier and Old Portsmouth, with views of the Isle of Wight. Along the defences, past The Camber and Gunwharf to The Hard:

Stage 3, from the Gosport side of Portsmouth Harbour to Lee on Solent, via Haslar’s Naval Bases and Marina, former hospital and prison, forts Monckton and Gilkicker, Browndown, and the coastline of Stokes Bay at Alverstoke. Apologies for the wind noise – I’m working on a solution. Cotton wool over the mic helps somewhat. Apologies too for the dust into the sun – it’s not on the lens but inside…

Weekend Walk 32 – Emsworth to Hilsea – Solent Way

Getting up too late to finish the South Downs Way, I switched to The Solent Way. Stage one of my back to front walk took me from Emsworth near the border with West Sussex to Hilsea in the north of Portsmouth. This was a level walk via Warblington, Langstone, Brockhampton, Farlington and the Hilsea Lines, with a long loop around Farlington Marshes in fading light.

Weekend Walk 31 – Woodingdean to Alfriston (South Downs Way)

A 12 mile hike along the South Downs, from a suburb of Brighton to the village of Alfriston (mispronounced in the video). This section of the trail goes above Kingston, Lewes, Ilford, Rodmell, into Southease with its interesting c12 church. The path then leads across the Ouse Valley past Newhaven back to the downs above Firle and Seaford.

It was a very windy day and my camera’s wind reduction couldn’t cope.

One more stage of the South Downs Way left to walk, to Eastbourne along the river and coast. I hope to do this in the next couple of weeks before the days get too short.

Weekend Walk 30

The final stage of the Itchen Way, from Bishopstoke bridge to Weston Point in Southampton, via Southampton Airport, Itchen Valley Country Park, Riverside Park, Woodmill, St Denny’s, Bitterne and Woolston. At Woodmill Lock the fast chalk river suddenly becomes tidal estuary. Such a contrast as the Itchen joins the Test to form Southampton Water, to the shallow clear streams of Cheriton. This was my least favourite part of the walk, at some points feeling like a descent into urban hell after the open countryside and clear river further north.

It wasn’t clear where the Itchen Way actually finishes – some say at the tidal lock, others at one of the eastern Southampton stations. I chose to finish at the natural conclusion of the river.

Weekend Walk 29 – Winchester to Eastleigh – The Itchen Way

Last Sunday I walked from the City Mill in Winchester along the c17 Itchen Navigation as far as Eastleigh. Passing Wharf Hill, St Catherine’s Hill, Twyford Down, Twyford, Shawford, Bambridge and Highbridge, and many locks, hundreds of years old. This was the third stage of the walk along the length of the Itchen Way.

Weekend Walk 27 – Cheriton to Alresford – Itchen Way

After (most of) the South Downs Way and the Hangers Way, I’ve chosen the Itchen Way for my next long distance path. Yesterday we walked a short stage, from the source of the river south of Cheriton, to the southern edge of Alresford. At this stage the river is really just a shallow stream with rapid current, headed north. This is before it turns west then south in the Itchen Valley. The walk took us through Cheriton village and Tichborne Park.


Went to Petersfield, got on the bus to Selborne, walked to Petersfield. That’s my idea of fun.

On the bus there was a little boy with his dad and granddad, going to Alton to ride the steam train. Are you having a nice time? Are you having a nice time? The father kept asking. Are you having a nice time? Because daddy wants you to have a nice time. I’m having a nice time, the boy reluctantly replied. Sat just in front, I wasn’t convinced. Then a sudden retch and sploosh, the boy was sick over the window and seat then promptly burst into tears and wailing. This lasted many minutes as granddad got the wet wipes out and tried to mop it up. Once he’d stopped crying, again the boy repeated, I’m having a nice time. By then I’d moved further back in the bus because it smelt of sick up there.

The walk was very good for me. Four hours out in the open, following the chain of hangers south from Selborne to Hawkley, then over the meaty Shoulder of Mutton hill to Steep and Petersfield, through an area called Little Switzerland. The waterfall is always a delight, so near to home.

This evening watched The Social Network for the second time. Geeks! Harvard! Jocks! Coding! Not listening! Pilfering! Partying! Blogging! Suing!

Steps stepped: 21,340 (A new record)

110208 Alton to Selborne

Yoga when I woke up, then breakfast before driving to Selborne. From there I caught the bus to Alton so I could walk the first part of the Hangers Way back to Selborne. The path is 21 miles long and heads south and east from Alton to Queen Elizabeth Country Park south of Petersfield, so today’s walk was a third of the total. I expected the bus to be a mostly empty Tuesday morning rural bus, but no, it was full of teenagers headed to the college. That feeling of being watched as I looked for an empty seat, only one spare because the kids were sprawled over a couple of seats each. The first part of the walk was fairly boring, through the industrial part of town and over large fields. As it got hillier, it was more fun. It took about two and a half hours walking, with a couple of short breaks, sitting in the late winter sun. New growth pushing up in the woodland, the leaves of the bluebells. Keep it rural! Here’s the walk video I made:

Weekend Walk 24 – Alton to Selborne – Hangers Way from Duncan Toms on Vimeo.

This afternoon, resting, editing the video which takes an hour or so, plus export and upload time. Otherwise continuing looking at TVs and buying a Playstation 3. But this morning during yoga I saw through all this entertainment and constant occupation, to something simpler, purer, more in touch, real, whole. It’s a question of right action and what to do with my time on this earth, what to do with each day. At the end of it: ‘Oh, I saw some fine movies and played some games, rode some waves, made some good friends, loved and was loved, worked a lot.’ Well, maybe that’s what there is, but something else is touched upon when deep in a stretch or in relaxation. I can’t force it, but I can allow it to come. It’s not something more, but unrelated to all that I know.

Steps stepped: 14,706

110219 Owslebury/Marwell Loop

Took a short walk after the days in bed, but not a lot of energy for it, either of us. We went to Owslebury then walked a loop around Marwell Wildlife Park For reasons I can’t explain, I really wanted to see a giraffe. We didn’t. But we did see some antelope I’d never seen before and an ostrich, through the fence at the back of the park. The footpath basically hugs the edge of the park. Later I read about the very old Marwell Hall, Henry VIII having stayed there and it’s supposed hauntedness.

Starting point, Owslebury church:

Caroline’s muddled boots. Mine looked and felt much the same as we stomped past Little Coney Park:

Peering through the fence at a quiet morning at the zoo. Choo choo:

Nice Park billboard:

Anyone know what these are?

And back to Owslebury:

So we have a large wildlife park twenty minutes from Brockwood. I knew it was there but hadn’t paid it any attention. We’ll go in sometime. They have over 200 species. Part of the walk met the Pilgrim’s Trail a long distance path from Winchester to Normandy. After I finish the South Downs Way, I’d like to walk the UK part of the trail.

Spent the rest of the day in bed. Watched Precious, harrowing and not really that uplifting even at the end.

Steps stepped: 9110. Too many for a not-well Duncan

110212 Durford Walk

I really enjoyed this TED video of Benjamin Zander that my friend Seppo put me on to. Zander’s measure of success is not wealth or fame but how many shining eyes there are around him. He speaks with real passion about his notion that classical music is for everyone. I know next to nothing about classical music but his descriptions and playing makes me want to understand more. What a character!

We went for a walk this morning over to the Rother the other side of Petersfield at Durford Mill. We started at the old bridge:

The east along the old Petersfield Midhurst branch line, a large sandpit to the south on West Heath Common. Get off my land, warn the children:

Not just lava, but boiling lava.

We went south to Down Park Farm where there were many dead rusting vehicles, including a couple of Fordson Majors:

Then back west to the Rother, enjoying the sun as we trekked across open fields, glad of the non-sticky sandy soil, passing some friends:

And to Durford Abbey Farm:

With the usual happy hostages:

Another varied walk not far from home. There was a feeling of spring in the sunshine with the birdsong reflecting the change of mood.

This afternoon we got the flat together, with the desk and drawers now in the bedroom by the window and the large bookcase in the living room. I am really happy to live in such surrounds, internally and the countryside.

Steps stepped: 9477

Lincoln Hall’s Survival

Lincoln Hall’s story is the most incredible I have come across in all the Everest reading and viewing I’ve been doing. At the end of the climbing season in 2006, this fifty year old Australian had reached the summit via the northern route, with three Sherpas. They had summited early in the day and had plenty of daylight and oxygen to get back to camp. But altitude sickness struck when Hall was still at 8600m. Suffering from the effects of cerebral edema, where the pressure inside the skull means fluid begins to leak into the brain, he began to hallucinate and collapsed several times. Each time he collapsed Hall believed he was taking a short break but they were long periods of unconsciousness. The Sherpas did their best to keep him moving through the day but he’d struggle with them and progress was very slow. Later Hall collapsed again and didn’t move. As the afternoon went on, the Sherpas continually tried to wake him and try to get him down to camp. All had been in the ‘Death Zone’ above 8000m for 19 hours, and supplemental oxygen had run out. They were all dehydrated and exhausted. Hall was declared dead at 5.20pm, and two hours later the Sherpas were ordered down to save themselves.

But Hall was not dead. He survived the night alone without water or shelter, drawing on yoga breathing and Buddhist meditation techniques, his consciousness tripping out in hallucinations. Luckily the temperature didn’t get below minus 25 that night – very cold, but not like it can be. He felt death as a grey cloak he was wearing, welcoming him. And so he determined to remove the cloak and face the cold. With dawn the sun warmed him somewhat and after 30 hours in the Death Zone he was found by another team heading for the summit. “I bet you are surprised to see me here,” were his first words. When they found Hall he was sitting cross legged and had removed his down jacket. He thought he was on a boat and wanted to get off – rather dangerous with a 3,000 meter drop in front!

The climbers abandoned their summit attempt and stayed with Hall until a rescue party could be organised and reached him. Still suffering from hypoxia Hall continued to battle with Sherpas on the way down, but he finally made it under his own power. Later he said Buddhism defines 8 stages of death, and he went through the first two. He doesn’t know what turned it around, nor can medical science explain why he didn’t die alone so high on the mountain. In an interview, Hall said:

The big thing I see is that what I had believed to be the nature of reality—the barrier between life and death, the dichotomy, I suppose—is actually not what I thought. And two things: the impossible can be possible, and death is not the grim reaper. It’s more welcoming. And it’s not like a trap, a welcoming trap. It’s actually just the next phase. I’ve been a card-carrying Buddhist for a dozen years now, and had Buddhist sympathies for a dozen years before that, but what happened this time around, on Everest, was that my appreciation of the Buddhist understanding of reality suddenly became real to me. That death isn’t the end, that it’s a cycle. So that’s the really potent life-changing message, even though I’m much the same person outwardly.

9 Jan 2011

Each year during the staff week we have a day for hiking then go out for a meal in the evening. After some thought, Gary decided it was too dangerous to take us up the the snow and ice, as we don’t have the safety equipment and experience. Instead we walked on the lower fells and valleys, from 0930 until 1600, with occasional breaks and a lunch sheltering from the wind on the low fells. The sun came out:

I’m not exactly sure of the route we took, for once happy to be guided and not be consulting the map to choose directions. We started directly from Yewfield because of black ice, James and I enjoyed slides on the driveway while people got ready. Do groups ever manage to leave on time? I don’t think I have ever experienced it. This time people coming down at the leaving time then fussing over laces and gaiters. From Tarn Hows we headed to Holme Fell (I think it was):

Fine views to Weatherlam and The Langdales and east towards Hellvelyn where someone died this week:

We passed by these camouflaged hairy friends:

And Colwith Force:

Then back over High Arnside and to Yewfield before dusk:

Here are all the hikers, near the start of the walk. About two thirds of the staff who came to Yewfield hiked:

This evening we went to Zeffirellis in Ambleside – for me mushrooms then vegetarian rissoles. Why do restaurants feel the need to put sugar in almost everything? The bread with the mushrooms was too sweet and so was the tomato sauce with the rissoles. Sugar is good for no one. But the company was good, sitting with Christine, Adrian, Mark, Mo and Fran.

8 Jan 2011

Review day on the yoga course, so 14 different postures with variations to work through. Somewhat rushed as the alarm woke me from deep dreams and I couldn’t quite get up. Another night of great energy and not very much sleepiness until late.

Quiet meeting for half an hour, watching the dawn from the window, and the fire. DVD about listening and relationship to the students and is there any if we have images/can’t listen.

Another great walk, from Tarn Hows down to Coniston Water, climbing back up the valley.

Some very icy conditions, making me slightly concerned about the high level walk tomorrow. Not for myself but for those less steady and without good boots.

Tired all day, and I was much more relaxed during a fairly quiet dialogue this afternoon

6 Jan 2011

The first full day of the Yewfield retreat. The daily schedule:

0800 Silent meeting
0830 Breakfast
0915 Cleaning
0945 Krishnamurti video
1100 Hiking
1300 Lunch
1500 Silent meeting
1530 Dialogue
1700 Cooking for some
1930 Supper

The hike was very enjoyable, and the sun shone for the first time in what seems like weeks. We hiked an hour over to Black Crag, a rocky hill at about 330 meters. Fine views to Windermere, Hawkshead, Conitston Water, the Irish sea in the far distance, and to the north, the southern fells including The Old Man of Coniston, Weatherlam, Langdale Pikes, Hellvelyn. We returned via a frozen Tarn Hows. Back for a lunch of leek and potato soup.

View over Windermere:

The dialogue was on the communication of another kind of learning of the inner life of man, instead of just on outward achievement. We ventured slowly to talk about the hold of apparent security over us all and how even though we know there really is no security it is so powerful, and why that might be.

We were the cooking team this evening , where Hersha led Derwent, Bill, Fran and I through cooking a south Indian curry and dhal, with some kind of milk and wheat desert. I only had a little of the spicy vegetables because the spices send me buzzing and the taste lingers in the mouth for days as well as the smell on the skin. But it was quite mild.

I woke in the night, clear, awake, fresh, very present. And didn’t go back to sleep all night, but for a few drifts during yoga nidra. A gentle day six of the yoga course this morning.