Weekend Walk 37 – Wickham, Funtley, Knowle

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.

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.

Weekend Walk 26 – Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth County Park – Hangers Way

This morning I walked the remainder of the Hangers Way, a 21 mile path from Alton in Hampshire to the South Downs at the Q.E. Country Park. A sunny June morning, it was a hot walk and I was glad of the stiff breeze and the shaded sections. Petersfield was busier than normal. I found out this was because of the Petersfield Festival of Food & Drink (which at first I thought was just an extension of the usual market). The walk took me through the town and the mobile homes park. It’s got to be the neatest mobile homes park I’ve seen. Each garden was immaculately looked after. Then I headed south, getting a bit off track leaving the park, before picking up the Way along kind of a dyke, which lead down to Buriton. Buriton is such a sweet little village, with the pond as its main feature. I was surprised no one was there visiting. One lady in a garden, one walking her dog, that’s it. On the south edge of the village a team of Community Service workers were maintaining the cemetery. One local was stood in his doorway looking rather concerned at these tattood and stern faced men trimming hedges and strimming and repainting gates. Under the railway, then it was up onto the higher ground of the South Downs, but wooded hill here, mainly planted in the 1930s. It was busy there with hikers and cyclists, picnickers and families.

So, that’s the Hangers Way. Still two days left on the South Downs Way from last year to do, and I’ll soon tackle something like the Pilgrims Way or Staunton Way.

Dawn Patrol

I woke at 5, then after the birds began just after first light, out into the still morning air. All looked a little eerie in the grey.

The school, pre-dawn:

To where? I wasn’t sure at this stage.

Something coming:

Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning:

Woodcote Park to Bramdean Common:

Bluebells at dawn:

Morning Walk

I went out for a half hour walk at 8 this morning, before work. These be some of the thingies I saw:

Leafy light:

The footpath says CLOSED DUE TO COMPLAINTS. Well hell they can’t just do that, so I went anyway.

Beacon Hill:

Old Winchester Hill (you can make out the burial mounds)

The peacock man’s plane. He takes off from a field by his house, literally a strip between crops.

Not sure what this is about, as there’s no running water around here:

The bluebells are out! The bluebells are out!

Brockwood Grove, new angle:

New beech against the evergreens:

New beech against the blossom:

110319 New Pond Walk

After yesterday’s rain, a bright, sunny day. We took a walk in the local area, out towards Hinton Ampner, turning back at New Pond Cottages. The daffodils were bowing to the frost as we left.

Gloves in a pot:

Brockwood Park School in the March sun:

Some of the Rhododendron in the Grove are in flower:

Through the woods on the ridge above Bramdean:

Red and black pollen pods:

The sap is rising, spring is almost here:

Going outside now to see if the Supermoon is up. The largest full moon in 18 years, I’m told.

Steps: 12,120


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

110226 Raptors and Owls at the Itchen

For this week’s weekend walk we went to Brambridge, which is on the Itchen between Twyford and Eastleigh. We parked at the garden centre and were surprised and delighted to see about twenty birds of prey sat on their little perches in a paddock by the river. We had chanced on the base of the Falconhigh Display Team. The birds consisted of falcons, hawks and owls, and some cross breeds. We were able to get right up close to them as someone from the team showed us round.

This owl had been rescued from a life in a box in someone’s flat:

One of the many hawks:

A Great Horned Owl:

Who quite liked to be stroked:

One of the many falcons, perhaps a cross breed. They can fly faster than 150 mph

I didn’t like seeing these great creatures tethered but it seemed they were being well looked after.

After the birdies we walked upstream along the Itchen Way:

Meeting a sunbathing horse:

Steps stepped: 6485, plus some more when Adam, James and I go out to see True Grit. Edit. = 9805