Walk : Hurstbourne Tarrant

Date : 5 May 2013

Weather : Cloudy, not particularly warm

Attendees : White dog

Flora and Fauna : Neds, sheeps, Blingbells

Distance :

It’s been an awfully long time since I did a walk. Many reasons but primary one is that the Vet has told us that our dogs are getting old and we need to cut back in distance. That has taken the wind out of my sails somewhat. What’s the point of walking if you don’t have a canine companion?

Ho hum. I have to get over it and so decided to take one of the girls on a short walk over and around Hurstbourne Tarrant and then remembered the AA Walks book. And here we are.

We moved to Andover  in 1998 after I left the RAF and got a real job in Newbury. Over the last 16 years the A343 has been my most frequent route to work, although I have worked around the globe. I’ve cycled, driven and ridden through Hurstbourne Tarrant literally thousands of times. However, I’ve only walked through it twice. Once with the daughter about 10-12 years ago and the last time on the Test Way a couple of years ago. I’ve always meant to walk over the hills to the south as some mornings riding to Newbury the view down into Hurstbourne and the Bourne Valley is simply stunning. The sunrises with the mist in the valley, glorious way to start the day especially in spring and early summer.

Hurstbourne Tarrant is a very pretty village, but the A343 through the middle is very busy. I really would not like a house on the 343. However, the B3043 to Stoke in the south east and Ibthorpe to the north west is very quiet and there are lots of very pretty thatched cottages. Very picturesque villages abound in the Bourne Valley.

The school in Hurstbourne Tarrant is particularly popular and it is behind the school, opposite St Peter’s church, that we find a car park hidden away that we use as the start of the walk.

Walk back to the road opposite the church and turn left for 50 yards down the footpath. Couple of chocolate box thatched cottages next to the stream. Cross the road and entire a horse paddock. As it’s the white dog that’s with me I don’t have to worry about a lead as she is not interested in the two yearlings in the paddock. Same can’t be said for them and they start to get a bit agitated. I have to calm them down as the white dog just wanders by unperturbed.

Enter a track rising along the back of the houses on he side of  the hill and then cross the 343. Quiet this morning, but then it is before 8 am on a bank holiday Sunday morning, so little or no traffic. Path continues between two houses directly across the 343. We come out into a series of paddocks. I do not remember the first set of paddocks being here last time I walked this route. I’m sure that it was an open meadow. Lots of horses in the paddocks and very boggy. I know that we have had a lot of rain over the last 12 months but the last few weeks have been reasonably dry so was rather surprised to find that the meadows had a lot of standing water. Very boggy, marshy and in one place muddy. Wasn’t expecting that.

Leave the meadows by Ibthorpe Manor, rather imposing building partially screened by a beech hedge. Turn left again down Horseshoe Lane and left at the B3048. and then turn right up Dolomans Lane at Boundary Cottage, I was expecting Dolomans Lane to be really steep and rocky, but it was nowhere near as bad as I feared. And it is remarkably well kempt. Nice, wide flat, well groomed track for the first quarter of a mile. Some cracking views back down the hill into the valley and to Hurstbourne.

The path forks and we go straight on over a couple of stiles and into a field full of ewes and lambs. At first they run away and then they start following us. I think that they think that the white dog is one of them and so safe to follow and as she is not interested in them they feel it safe to follow. Over another stile across the field and onto a very underused path. This path was heavily overgrown and we had to fight our way through the brambles and nettles.

After battling through the undergrowth we pop out on a road on Windmill hill and turn left to tag us back towards the A343 along the ridgeline above Hurstbourne. The OS map says there are windmills here but I’ve never spotted them. Good views to the south from Windmill Hill and back into Andover and the wood of Hurstbourne Common is just starting to bloom with bluebells. After following the road we cross a still quiet 343 and pick up a footpath along the northern edge of Dole’s Copse. Have to admit that I didn’t even know that the footpath here existed. How observant after 16 years?

Views not great as they are obscurred by hedgerows to the north. Had hoped to get some pictures of the valley here similar to the views you get from the A343 as you start the descent into Hurstbourne, but not to be. We enter Doles Copse and then take left off the main path down the hill. The path gets very steep and we meet the only other walker of the morning struggling manfully up the steepest part of the route with walking poles. We stopped and had a chat, he was walking to Andover so still a way to go. I still can’t see the point of walking poles. They consume energy in the carrying and swinging. OK so they may help with balance, but consider them an unnecessary burden.

All down hill back to the school sports field. I did chortle at the sign on the back gate of the sports field : No Fouling. Obviously aimed at dog walkers, but nicely put.

Across the field and back to the car. Walk done.

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Short Walks in Hampshire

Recently bought an AA book entitled "40 Short Walks in Hampshire and the Isle of White" (ISBN 970-0-7495-6903) and so will be working my way through this with Wifey. We'll try to do alternate weeks for short walks and long walks. See how it works out.

The walks are between 1 and 4 miles, so some may have to be slightly lengthened to make them worth doing, but it's a start.

Walks as we do them will be added below:

Walk: 34 Rockbourne

Date: 29-Oct-11

Weather: Fine, some cloud, not too cold

Attendees: Wifey, fiends

Flora and Fauna: Lots of Neds, Sheeps, Squiggles, Buzzard, lots of big ferns on the banks of Whitsbury fort

The roads around Salisbury were empty so we got there earlier than I expected. Parked up in the Village Hall in Rockbourne and de-bused.

Crossing the road brings you into someone's driveway. Big house but feels odd. Path round the back to the church.

Lovely old cottages in front of the church which rises up behind. Path to the southeast passes to the south of the graveyard and the views are fairly obscured to the south due to a high wall and hedges. Lots of pheasants in the fields to the north.

After about half a mile we turn northeast on a gently rising track that finally allows us to look at the views into the valley. Peasants running every which way in the fields as we walk past them. Must be another shoot on.

Path then drops to a crosroad of tracks and we continue northeast. Field of sheep now. Black one in work mode. To the left clearly marked shooting stands, must be a shoot on.

Another rise and we enter stud country.

Here we stopped and had a chat to an 80-year old Yorkshireman who used to farm in these parts. Walks the paths we're taking every day after he had his hip replacement. Keeps him fit and out of the house. Nice chap, for a Yorkshireman ;-)

Round the back of a small modern housing estate and we're in Whitsbury. Turn right into the road and pass the Cartwheel Inn (closed, we're way too early, sigh). Then turn left up a little rise and into a paddock of the Whitsbury Stud. Fromhere on in we cross paddocks,m gallops and paths through the stud. Girls on leads.

We cross the first paddock walking uphill to St Leonard's Church. Taking a moment to sit on the bench in the graveyard looking back down the path into the valley. Could sit forever.

We now walk all the way clockwise round the church and enter a track going left out of the back gate and into the stud. Lots of yearlings in the paddocks here gallumping around, happy to be alive. A group of six came over and said hello. Not phased by the fiends at all, and black dog was silent!

Onto the drive out of the stud to the left, right at the road then left back through the stud. Interesting sign leaving the drive - visiting mares this way - well it is a stud.

Couple of horses being taken out caused the black one to bark - I reckon it the clip clop noise that triggers it.

Along a beech lined gallop passing stables playing the Smurf's song to the neds and some mares waiting to be serviced.

All downhill from here, through a few sets of gates, across a field of sheep, black one didn't even notice. Buzzard soaring across the field. Round a farm with lots of very ecclesiastical looking buildings back to the church, through the driveway again and back to the car.

Second AA walk done.

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Walk: 13 Brown Candover

Date: 15 Oct 11

Weather: Beautiful sunshine, very warm.

Attendees: Wifey and Fiends

Flora and Fauna: Red Kite and I think Honey Buzzard

This is the first walk we've taken from the AA book. Nice and gentle. Slight rises, although I have extended it to include a pub. What's the point of a country walk without a pub? Actually most of the walk covers some of the Wayfarers Walk so will become well known to me.

Kick-off is in the lay-by just by the Woodmancott road sign. Fiends didn't notice the sheep in the field but did notice the neds.

Walk goes northwest to the church then truns off the road southwest. Gentle rise up the field and along the wood line brings us to a turn onto a restricted footpath southwest.

Arriving at some sheds we continued southwest towards the pub rather than going northwest back to the car.

Very slippy underfoot over the chalk even though it had been dry for the best part of a week.

Looking to the north across the valley there appeared to be a shooting party but they were gone when we got there after lunch. Just as well, black dog doesn't like the sound of shooting.

Lunch was at the Woolpack Inn in Totford. Most of the staff sounded like extras from Emmerdale, very apt given the pub's name. Very gastro pub. My longhorn steak was lovely, better than anything I had on Route 66. Horseradish sauce was Heinz ketchup with fresh horseradish. Had to ask for English mustard. Chips, however, were home-made and the biggest I've ever had. Half a potato each, I kid you not. I had a pint of their own Woolpack Ale which went down very well on a warm day.

Leaving the pub the road took us up-hill. Not the conducive postprandial activity, but we got there. Path then cut-back down the valley to the start.

Saw what I believe to be a couple of Red Kites, they had V-tails, thin pointed wings, were bi, and had the right dark and light patches on the wings. They were mobbed a bit by a couple of what I believe were Honey Buzzrads. Lot lighter than usual buzzards and were almost as big as the Kites.

Back at the car lots of bikers on the road. And mine looks like it needs a new clutch. Sigh.

End of first book walk.

Walk: Mottisfont

Date: 13 November 2011

Weather: Glorious sunshine

Attendees: Wifey and fiends

Flora and Fauna: Sheeps, Neds, virtually no birds

Absolutely glorious sunshine and very hot for mid-November. Did start overheating towards the end of the walk.

Start is in the car park opposite Spearywell Farm. Very muddy in the carpark, but then it rained almost every day last week. Path initially goes east in woodland. Lots and lots of paths in the wood. Had to keep referring to the map and we did have one false turn.

Path goes south after about half a mile, skirting Cadbuy Farm. Unlike previous walks there are no real vistas or views and we continue south through the woods.

We finally come out of the woods and cross a very muddy field. Boots completely clagged up. Through a style and along a couple of straight sections to a bridge under the railway and to a small bridge over the River Dun at Butt's Green.

We don't cross the bridge, we turn right through the water meadows. After the rains they are very waterlogged. White one sank at one point up to her tum.

Saw a man training a spaniel to flush and retrieve in the hedgerow.

Came to another field full of bullocks just by the gate. Another group of walkers with a sheepy fiend said they'd left them for us. Only thing for it was for me to go in alone and Ya them out of the way. Knew those ranch holidays would come in handy one day. Worked perfectly, they all ran off leaving it clear for us to walk with the fiends (on leads) across the field.

At the end of the field we recross the railway at a crossing so beware. About 30 seconds after we crossed a train whizzed by.

Cross the road at Hut Hill and walk up the path and over another muddy field. THen right into a tarmacked part of the National Cycle route 24 and into Mottisfont, Test Way territory. Turn north up the road and turn left opposite the old gates and gatehouse to the Abbey.

Almost immediately take a path across another muddy field which leads back to the car park.

Muddy day, though very hot. Wasn't expecting it to be this warm.

Third walk from the book down.