Walk: Hartley Wintney

Date: 1 September 2012

Weather: Warm, sunny haze

Attendees: Wifey, fiends

Flora and Fauna: Bullocks, Hornets, Marsh Helleborine

Distance: 4.25 miles

Been an awfully long time since the last of the AA short walks was walked. Boxing Day last year if I'm to be precise. 

Nice little place Hartley Wintney. The A30 does get a little snarly at peak times and when the M3 is closed, but a nice little place none-the-less. In the summer it's nice to sit and watch the cricket on the green with a pint at the Cricketers. Very English scene.

Cricket on Cricket Green by the Cricketers Pub in Hartley Wintney

Didn't realise until I read the book that Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII and not the actress, was a local. Small world.

Dropped Girl off at work in Basingstoke and drove along the A30 to Hartley Wintney. Parked up in the car park at the back of the High Street. Wifey asked a bloke what time limit there was a s there was a lot af writing saying short term parking only. Bloke said a maximum of 2 hours. Not a lot of time to walk the best part of 4 1/4 miles and have a pub lunch. So we launched ourselves on the walk.

I'd decided that, as we wanted to go to the Cricketers for lunch, we'd do the walk in the reverse direction - clockwise - rather than the anticlockwise direction in the book. So a stroll through the walkway onto the High Street and left along it taking the left-hand fork into Hare's Lane. Some lovely looking cottages here. Hartley Wintney has a very large green with  a cricket ground and many very pretty cottages. Pity about the new builds as we turn left onto the footpath up to Hazeley Heath. THis footpath forms part of the Three Castles Way between Windsor, Odiham and Winchester which I walked with a group of colleagues some ten years ago one of whom used to live in Hartley Wintney.

Only real rise of the day walking up to Hazeley Heath. Very typical north Hampshire/Berkshire countryside. It is, unless you know about it, rather unexpected. It's more like the New Forest heathland than you would guess. All that's missing is the neds - and then maybe not. After about half a mile we break out of the trees, turn right and start descending toward the River Hart. Ground gets boggier and there are a number of wooden walkways to take you over the boggiest.

Don't know what it is about many of the walks I do in Hampshire but sewerage works also seem to be present and this walk is no different. Just after the sewerage works we come to footbridge taking us over a stream and we cross a large meadow. Next bit is interesting. Walk through a paddock where neds have been gnawing at the fencing, could've been beaver, but I've a feeling it was 'oss. Don't cross the bridge at the end of the paddock leading to the tip. Instead we turn a sharp left back along the side of the paddock we've just walked through ?! Don't understand that bit. The map shows a much straighter path but you can't take it.

At the road, Hulfords Lane, we turn right. Although narrow it is very busy. We have to stop every hundred yards or so to let cars, vans and horse boxes pass. And there are a lot of neds in paddocks and lots of stables. Just like the New Forest then.

At the dual carriageway A30 it is careful across and onto Elventham Lane. Along the lane for a third-of-a-mile past some more pretty cottages and then take the footpath diagonally across the field. We decided to stop for a drink at the tree immediately in the field but were confronted by hordes of hornets. Very big beasts indeed and easily identifiable with their muted browns and yellows. Noise was also very loud. Much droning. So, better part of valour, we rapidly moved on only stopping after the next kissing gate on the far side of the field.

Here we met the only other walker out this morning. I am constantly surprised at just how few people I do meet out on my walks. We continue diagonally south east along the edge of a small wood turning south west at the corner. Lots and lots of Marsh Helleborine, conditions this summer have probably been perfect. May have been cold and wet but the marshiness has probably been just what the Marsh Helleborine crave. 

We zig-zag across the path and cross another footbridge over the Hart this time. And here the fun begins.

We enter a field of bullocks.

Things get a little frantic, if not downright dangerous.

The girls are on leads and I tell Wifey to hurry along the edge of the field hoping the bullocks don't see them whilst I try to get their attention and draw them away. Unfortunately, they see Wifey and fiends and start making a beeline. I try to whoop them away but to no avail and they start running towards Wifey who manages to get herself boxed. Only way for her to escape is over a barbed wire fence, on which she rips her trousers and cuts her legs. Both the dogs manage to get under the fence. All just in the nick of time as the bullocks are snorting over the fence as the fiends escape. I have no problems and merely walk around the bullocks to the stile in the corner of the field that leads to the Elventham golf course. Wifey has to negotiate another barbed wire fence to get onto the golf course, much to the amusement of a group of golfers.

Much more sedate now. Dodging golf balls. Not really. Course has been designed so that no fairway crosses it. Not always the case though. Lots of people ruining a good walk this morning.

Pop out of the golf course at the pond on Cricket Green. We had wanted to go to the Cricketers for lunch but after the bloke at the car park told us we only had two hours we have to walk past it. Unfortunately, there is a cricket match on (which would have been nice to watch with a pint and over lunch) and a Hampshire Fire Service open day next door meaning that there are no parking spaces outside the Cricketers. So we hurry on by, over Fleet Road and across the green to the A30. Up Bracknell Lane, along Hartford Road and back to the car park.

Looking at another ticket machine in the car park we realise that the car park is split into two. At the bottom is a short stay but at the top is a long stay. We could have taken our time and had lunch at the Cricketers after all. Thanks bloke.

Decide not to extend the parking ticket or go back to the Cricketers and instead head for the Pheonix Inn at Phoenix Green for lunch. Can thoroughly recommend. Good pint of Doombar and a fantastic ham and piccalili sandwich with home made piccalili with huge pickles. Lovely.

Map of the walk below:

View AA 03 - Hartley Wintney in a larger map