From Camden in London, west along Regent’s Canal path to Little Venice at Maida Vale. The path soon leads to Regent’s Park, where the canal cuts trough the zoo, and the back gardens of some stately homes side by side along its banks. Then there’s a tunnel, so one has to re enter London streets a while, before the busy but tranquil Lisson Grove moorings and Little Venice itself. After an unusual request, I walked a little way along the Grand Union Canal, to Paddington Station.
An almost-loop at the very western edge of the South Downs National Park. From Magdalen Hill east of Winchester, up towards Cheesefoot Head and then across the downs to Morestead. Then down into Chilcombe through the firing range and finally across the M3 into Winchester via The Soke.
Here’s a video I made during the second stage of walking the 70 mile route across Hampshire. A high downs section with great views passing south of the Highclere Estate, home of Downton Abbey; Beacon Hill; Great Litchfield Down, Ladle Hill, leaving the long distance path at Watership Down, of book and film fame, for Sydmonton and Old Burghclere.
A circular walk along the River Itchen and the Itchen Navigation, from St Cross south to Hockley Viaduct, now open for walkers and cyclists, back north to Winchester city centre, cathedral and college before returning through the water meadows. Calves, newborn lambs and views of St Catherine’s hill.
A 2 hour walk from the village of Southwick in Hampshire, along the north side of Portsdown Hill, past HMS Dryad at Southwick House, into the woods near Widley and back via Lye Heath and Place Wood. Pretty much the entire walk was on land owned by the Southwick Estate.
Up 05:50-0600. Wash.
Work by 09:00
This worked really nicely for me today. The main change in the above is switching yoga from morning to evening. After my neck injury last week, I realised that it is safer to stretch later in the day. And I enjoyed the walk before work, energising me for the morning after lying down for one song. Total time to myself, without any spiritual discipline, just me and the world waking up, with the rhythm of walking.
Learning to back off and observe more cleanly. Notice the steering and controlling and naturally step away, yet still entirely aware of what’s happening. As learning takes place, a different quality washes over the brain, one of space, freedom and often blissful energy. But not fantasy – this is very real, as real as all the gritty struggles and torments one is used to.
Unsteady foundations, like the floor of Bath Abbey built on thousands of graves. In sitting still, there can’t help but be an exposure of this wobbliness, and in the awareness of it, it dissipates. On going back to the breath each time, an intermediate stage was discovered. One of rejection or criticism. ‘I don’t want to think about that,’ therefore: back to the breath. This isn’t right practice. Yet right practice exposes this wrong practice. Then, once things are smoother and steadier, move to the body. This took ages to move very far. As soon as attention moved to sensations around the head, more unstableness was apparent. Then a thought loop, then back to the sensation, instability gone, until on a new area. By moving slowly, eventually I got to the injury recovered neck. So tight! Before the time was over, I’d skimmed down the arms but by this time I was wondering about the US Open and Federer’s form. Could sleep and sleep after but going for a walk.
Only on the way back I started to notice them. Slugs. Every one or two meters a couple more, most of them were the little white ones. The road was damp after the night’s rain so probably they would be able to get across without dehydrating. I rescued one or two of them with small sticks and put them in the grass. And yet there were too many of them to save them all. It was very warm in the direct sunshine, at 8 a.m., a quiet Sunday morning except for the main road, cars firing along, Red Bull cans along the verges. I picked a couple of them up that had been left in the lane. The walk today, down past the old farm shop, past the cottage with the Aston Martin along Riversdown Road (a lane), then across the A272 towards Woodlands. In the half hour out I almost got as far as the old school. A kind of steamy air, and slightly misty along the straight road at Brockwood Bottom, the sun rays coming through the trees and the mist. Glad to be out, and be able to be out, before work. Stepping on acorns and hazelnuts, crunching satisfactorily underfoot, kicking fallen sticks off of the road, dead wood fallen during quite a stormy night, the wind up. This morning, much stiller and the summer drawing to an end.
Worked on organising Spanish translated books all day. The architect of the Krishnamurti Centre, Keith Critchlow, gave a tour of the building to guests and visitors. I joined the group for a while. He said that Krishnamurti said that if he were a visitor, he would sit in the quiet library and listen to the sounds of the fountain in the courtyard. Thanks to donations, the fountain will soon be restored after years of not working.
Evening yoga, the first since the injury. Was able to do a short headstand without a problem, and otherwise going steady and gently. Pauses between poses, rushes of energy making me yawn and sometimes scrunch my face up. At one point my arm shook like in meditation.
A clear, aware, grounded day, once the foundations had been set early on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
The ninth stage of my South Downs Way adventure, picking it up after a break over summer. Up to the downs from Amberley, the half way point, with amazing views to the north and south, to Chanctonbury Ring and the town of Steyning. The path really opened up during this stage as we move past Littlehampton and Worthing, towards Brighton.