Weekend Walk No. 65 – Camden to Little Venice – Regent’s Canal

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.

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Weekend Walk No. 58 – Morestead and Chilcombe

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.

Weekend Walk 54 – Highclere to Watership Down – Wayferers Walk

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.

Weekend Walk 52 – Winchester and Hockley Viaduct

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.

18 Aug 2013

New routine:

Up 05:50-0600. Wash.

Meditation 06:10-07:10

Walk 07:30-08:30

Work by 09:00

Lunch 13:00-15:00

Work 15:00-18:00

Yoga 18:15-19:15

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.

Meditation. Yesterday:

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.

Today:

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.

Walk: Ropley / Gilbert Street

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:

Hay Field, Round BalesDon’t play on the round bales we were told on their introduction in the 1980s. I preferred the rectangular ones we could build dens with.

Each field a whole other scene:Ropley area

Golden Barley Field

Views to the west, climbing higherHampshire view

In Little Down woodPond near Ropley

P1020982

Near Lyeway FarmNear Lyeway Farm

Cottage at Swelling HillCottage at Swelling Hill

Into Old Down WoodOld Down Wood

Down the hill to Gilbert StreetTowards Gilbert Street

On St Swithuns Way, passing sheep and horsesMale Sheep Horse Paddock

And back to the start at RopleyRopley Hampshire

 

A good walk with many changes of countryside within quite a small area.

Walk: Hen Wood / Westbury Park

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.

Westbury House to Horsedown Farm

Westbury Park Woods

Westbury Park Woods

Old farm machinery near Horsedown Farm:

Old farm machinery

After the old farmhouse, the tracks become wider, at the east of the woods.

Hen Wood

Each tree has its own character:

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Near Halnaker Lane, some views across the Meon Valley to the north to Riplington and Drayton:

Meon Valley North

And at the south side of the wood, some views to the South Downs, specifically Salt Hill and Teglease Down:

Salt Hill South Downs

South Downs

Teglease Down

Walking quickly past a clay pigeon shooting area, I headed north east, downhill toward Coombe Lane:

Hen Wood Hampshire

Hen Wood Meon Valley

Views from the lane:

From Coombe Lane

From Coombe Lane

Reentering the woods at Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve, I peaked into Westbury Park, and watched the crop waves in the wind:

Westbury Park Hampshire

The reserve:

Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve

At its northern end, the lane crosses the Meon. I really like this early 20th Century type of white road barrier:

Coombe Lane Meon Bridge

Then into a field of calves with their mothers. Even the cows were curious and they all followed me across the field:

P1020472

I stopped at a delightful spot at the river, under a large tree. Timeless:

P1020473

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:

P1020475

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:

Westbury House East Meon

Last view into the park:

Westbury Park East Meon

Weekend Walk 47 – Bishop’s Waltham to Nr. Owslebury (Allan King’s Way)

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.

Cheriton Wood

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.

Weekend Walk 46 – Hambledon to Bishop’s Waltham – Allan King’s Way

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.

Chidden & Hambledon Walk

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.

Chidden Hambledon Walk Route

With larks calling high above (where are they?) we proceeded south from the village over open downland:

Chidden Hampshire

Near Chidden

Some winter flowers hinting at spring:

Open snowdrops Yellow flower

Into Park Wood:

Park Wood Hambledon Park Wood Hambledon Park Wood Hambledon Park Wood Hambledon

 

 

Bird of prey scarecrow:

Hawk scarecrow

Park House:

Park House Hambledon Park House Hambledon

Cricket has been played up on Windmill Down, Hambledon for more than 250 years:

Hambledon Cricket Club

Buds budding:

Spring bud

View north to Leydene Park:

Leydene Park, Hyden

Hampshire downland:

Hampshire downland

Horse and foal

Hambledon vineyards, producing English ‘champagne’:

English vineyards Hambledon vineyards

Into the village. Very nice. Very expensive. Sports cars in front of cottages:

Hambledon churchyard Hambledon church Hambledon church cross Hambledon peoples market Hambledon High Street Old letter box MG, cottage

Footpath north through the vineyards:

Vineyard footpath

Panorama north to Chidden Down:

Chidden Down Chidden Down

And back to Chidden:

Chidden Hampshire

East Meon Walk

In bright winter sunshine in a crisp breeze we walked a loop of a few km from East Meon church:

East Meon Walk Route Map

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:

Over East Meon church

 

Even higher above some red kites effortlessly circled over a corn field. A local said they had been recently introduced:

Red kite

On the top of the hill looking east to the south downs stretching away in the haze beyond Butser Hill:

View to the downs

The rolling grassland of Park Hill near to Vineyard Hole. (Now there are some vines nearer the village at the Court House.)

From Park Hill-2 From Park Hill

On the Bereleigh Estate, Park Farm. The ice on the pond would be soon to melt:

Park Farm

 

Hey you forgot the hay!

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:

Tree roots

 

Old lanes eaten up by motorbikes and sodden led us to the gravel of the Greenway Track:

Greenway Track

No cars. Look how dated the sign design is, some kind of 1960s car:

No cars signpost UK

 

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:

Frogmore cottages The Meon at Frogmore

 

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:

Thatch East Meon East Meon-2 Ye Olde George Inn, East Meon East Meon-3

 

Then back to the church in it’s downland situation:

East Meon Church and Park Hill East Meon Church

The old Court House c14 onwards:

Old Court House

 

Ventilation tile:

Handmade ventilation tile

 

Scarecrow at the village allotments:

Scarecrow at East Meon Allotments

Gundleton and Bighton Walk

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:

Guntleton & Bighton

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:

Gundleton Geese

Snowdrops on Goscombs Lane:

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.

Two bulls

Pigs in the barn and a curious goose:

Goose and pigs

The cows were eating what looks like watercress:

Eat your greens

A wet and muddy horse:

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:

Fresh moss

A pair of donkeys:

Donkeys

I think this was called Clivedon. Totally old school bungalow:

Bunglaow at Goscombs Lane

A place called The Coffee Tavern. No sign of it being a cafe:

The Coffee Tavern

Greening signposts:

Bighton Dean Lane

A thatched cottage at Bighton Dean:

Thatched Cottage

The Three Horseshoes Public House. Proper old school again Also known as The Three Osees:

The Three Horseshoes, Bighton

The Old House at Bighton. Digging the windows:

The Old House, Bighton

Pines at Bighton Dean Lane:

Pines, Bighton

Looking west from Bighton Lane:

From Bighton Lane

I’m not sure which house this is. Perhaps Bighton Manor:

Bighton Manor?

Windybanks Cottage in Bighton:

Windbanks Cottage Bighton

There’s no ‘r’ in Bighton:

Bighton. No 'r'

Weekend Walk 44 – Portchester & Portsdown – Allan King’s Way

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.

Weekend Walk 39 – Beaulieu to Lymington – The Solent Way

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.

Weekend Walk 38 – Hythe to Beaulieu – Solent Way

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.

 

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

Weekend Walk 17 – Amberley to Steyning (South Downs Way)

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.