Hangers Way – Day 1

In preparation for walking in New Zealand we thought we should do a slightly more taxing walk here in UK.  The Hangers way between Alton and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park seemed ideal. Just over 20 miles with an inn providing B and B and good food at about the mid point.

So, train from Shalford to Alton. Would have been easy if the GWR Gatwick -Reading train had been on time.  And if the crossing gate at North Camp hadn’t been kept down to allow the late-running train to pass through. But with a bit of a detour and some fast walking we were back on track (literally) at Ash Vale and into Alton at just after 1100.

Watercress Line terminal

A bit of nostalgia but no time to investigate.  Out of the town and over the A31 before a steady plod up over a field sown with rape. Mud clinging to the boots made it quite good exercise.

Looking back to Alton
East Worldham

The way continued over muddy fields until we approached the village of East Worldham.  The track led behind the village via a view of the church and rather a nice house.  Then down and out across grassy fields. Fortunately it was still cold and the wet ground was quite hard.

Smith’s Farm East Worldham

Still wet underfoot but all going well until, at Candovers, there was a Hampshire County Council notice saying “Path Closed”.  Not good with no obvious diversion.  Fortunately this was one of the places where a mobile signal was available and a call to the Countryside section eventually elicited the information that it was only the by-way which was shut for resurfacing.  Walkers just had to climb around the locked gate and keep walking.

After a few hundred yards we came across a bullock in the middle of the path. He stayed immobile as we approached and it was obvious that he was lame. So we diverted round him too.

Lame bullock at Candovers

Then more path and some wet and muddy bits until, having seen almost nobody all morning, we came across a class of children and teachers having what was obviously a biology lesson in the stream below Selborne. It looked like they were having a great time.

Fun and learning

Selborne has public conveniences so where better to stop for lunch?  But the car park isn’t very inviting really.


After Selborne we were back on the familiar section to Hawkley. Up onto Noar Hill; quite steep and muddy from the top of the made-up track. And the mud continued from there all along the hanger paths, culminating in a serious plod across a very muddy field with a huge puddle across the track on the approach to Hawkley.

Hawkley mud

We reached the Hawkley Inn at about 4.15. It was shut, but we had expected that.  It was better to arrive early rather than stumble around in the dark to make an ETA after the pub had opened. We had a small picnic and tried to hide from the wind which was growing colder.  The wait was enlivened by the delivery of the inn owners’ dog food; the pet shop owner who was making the delivery was unable either to locate their cottage or achieve sufficient mobile signal to talk to someone who knew.

Outside the Hawkley Inn

Eventually we checked in at just before 5.30. Comfortable accommodation. Excellent food. A working wi-fi would have made it even better. (What the modern traveller expects nowadays.)

Total distance: 18293 m
Total climbing: 556 m
Total descent: -517 m
Total time: 05:33:50

 

Gently up Leith Hill

Out again today with G&H Ramblers. Glorious,cold day from Westcott up onto Leith Hill then down to Coldharbour and the Plough for lunch. After lunch a gentle ramble back to Westcott with a short climb at the end. Good job it was freezing; if not it would have been a mud bath in places.

Cottage below the mill ponds at Westcott
Picture perfect

Parked by Westcott church. Plenty of room despite our misgivings. After a bit of a wait for latecomers we set off and soon passed this cottage which looked impossibly pretty, sprinkled with frost and in the cold early sunlight.

 

Lovely sunlit walk
Lovely sunlit walk

Up along the track from the Rookery towards Broadmoor. Condition were still cold, fortunately

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hard frost underfoot keeping the mud at bay.
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Testing the ice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Timber stack

On up the track with plenty of indications of logging. Looked like excellent timber too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fallen tree obscures the waterfall

The last time we came this way the waterfall which is one of the sources of the Tilling Bourne was clearly visible.  A tree has fallen and now hides it effectively. Hope it is cleared soon.

 

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Spray from the waterfall had landed on the grass and branches at its foot, turning into icicles.

 

 

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View at the coffee stop

 

Passing through Broadmoor, the usual coffee stop, we made our way a few hundred meters further along the track to where some fallen trees provided convenient, if icy, seating.

 

 

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Then on up what must be the gentlest track up Leith Hill.

 

 

 

 

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Looking towards Gatwick

As ever, when the weather is clear, the view from the top of Leith Hill is spectacular.  You can often see the planes landing and taking off from Gatwick. Not today though.

 

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Down the Eastern flank of the Hill to Coldharbour where we had pre-booked lunch at the  Plough Inn at Coldharbour.  Pre-booking lunch can be hit or miss. This pub got it absolutely on target and the food was delivered shortly after we sat down. Very good it was too and the local ale was tasty. The pub is due to be refurbished in the next few weeks. Hopefully the new tenants’ plans will succeed. Looking forward to going back to see.

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Walking back towards Westcott the track became more rutted and water-logged. Despite the ice it became more and more difficult to find a dry path

 

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Soon there was a mass break away with Ramblers scrambling up onto a drier, parallel track.

 

 

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Blue ice
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Sunlight on trees

 

I just liked this one.

 

 

 

And this one too.

 

 

 

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Fording the mud

 

We came on a very muddy gate which called for balancing skills to get through without getting very wet feet. Some broke away and jumped a small rivulet. Some kept on and crossed this bridge.

 

 

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On the final leg back into Westcott this great building appeared in front. Not sure what it is.

 

 

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Back at Westcott church. Still cold enough for the snow men.

 

 

 

 

 

Total distance: 16074 m
Total climbing: 451 m
Total descent: -448 m
Total time: 05:59:14

Plowtering

“You’ve been plowtering about in the mud” was what Granny Robertson, with her strong East Lothian roots, said when we kids came back in from a muddy afternoon.  And she would have said that today.

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Car first thing this morning

Plowtering is such a descriptive word. It means to splash aimlessly in mud or water, to wade messily through wet ground. And that really described quite large parts of today’s walk.

Waking up this morning to a little snow we expected it to be wet underfoot.  Muddy as we went across Shalford park and over the Wey but looking better as we met the gang (Val, Colin and Claire by the old Law College admin buildings.

Law college admin buildings site
Law college admin buildings site

Except the buildings are no longer there. Development is in progress for new housing.

 

 

 

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Fields stretch up the Mount

Walking up towards Piccard’s Farm the snow showed the old cultivation on the fields.

 

 

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Into the Loseley Estate nature reserve

 

Quite sticky in the woods but not up in the trees.

 

 

 

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Four way crossing on the N Downs Way. Muddy in all directions.

Up at the point where the North Downs Way is crossed by a track down to the Manor of Polstead. A new sign post but very muddy all round.

 

 

 

 

 

Then back down onto the main Loseley Park estate. Still very muddy crossing this and here we suffered our only slip.  Muddy and no fun.  On through Orange Grove then up and over Mount Brown, a new track for us, and back to the meeting point from which we walked home.

Thawing

To find that the snow on the car was thawing fast.  A good walk.

 

 

 

 

 

Total distance: 10670 m
Total climbing: 228 m
Total descent: -224 m
Total time: 02:43:33

Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers

Out on Puttenham, Common today with G&H Ramblers.  Bright early on but clouding over a bit later.  Pub stop at the Squirrel, Hurtmore – not bad considering that there were 20 ++ of us descending on them at once

The Tarn. Very quiet.

Started off at the Tarn car park on Puttenham Common.  Lovely morning.  Reflections on the still water.

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Pausing for breath

 

 

Off round the edges of the pond then up a steepish climb to wait at the top for everyone to catch up.

 

 

I'll take the high road
I’ll take the high road

 

After  a few more ups and downs we were on the Common near the Iron Age Hillbury fort.  Off into the sun with Jane leading the way to the top car park for a coffee break.  Then it was over the road and East down a pleasant valley.  When we got to the Puttenham-Shackleford road we walked along it to keep off a low lying, muddy track.

 

 

Ramblers enter Shackleford
Ramblers enter Shackleford

From Shackleford we walked towards the A3 past a farm where there has been development, visible from the main road, going on for some time now.  Still not sure just what it is but clearly someone is putting money into the place.  The footpath does cross the A3 but, given the number and ages of the group, the leader sensibly chose a detour via the bridge under the A3 near the Squirrel. The walk back avoided a muddy trek to Eashing and back over the A3 bridge.  We returned via Norney and rejoined the original track near Peper Harrow where Jane’s great grandmother lived as a child.

Rodsall Manor in afternoon light
Rodsall Manor in afternoon light

On Shackleford Heath we went up a muddy permissive path on the way to Rodsall Manor which looked as attractive as ever.

 

 

Some mud you just can't avoid
Some mud you just can’t avoid

 

Unfortunately the path from Rodsall back to Cutt Mill House, running beside a stream, was waterlogged and very muddy right across the track.  But it didn’t detract from an excellent walk.

 

 

 

Total distance: 14137 m
Total climbing: 351 m
Total descent: -356 m
Total time: 05:33:50

Sunday’s walk

Yesterday we took advantage of a break in the weather to walk “The Scholar’s Trail” with friends from what was the Surrey Uni walking group.  We started off very close to home.

Just by the Seahorse
Just by the Seahorse

We then walked towards the Chantries past the National Trust property, Shalford Mill.

Fast running water
Val, Kelly (and Einstein), Steve and Jane

The water was flowing strongly over the mill weir.

Mill weir

 

 

 

 

 

So we walked on up into the North Downs.

Great light
Great light

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of a wander round the rather muddy woodland.  particularly because the logging crews had been at work.  Then down into the valley and back up the other side onto Pewley Down.

View from the down

 

 

 

 

 

Then back down into town before walking back to Shalford past the flooded water meadows.

Water meadow doing what it should
Water meadow doing what it should
No entry!
No entry!