Category Archives: Hiking

Wonderful long walks

Walking from West Bay to Golden Cap, Stonebarrow Hill, Charmouth and return……14 miles on the Southwest Coast Path in Dorset

What a day it was!  We woke at 5am and set off for the coast just after 6am for a 14 mile hike along the West Coast Path in Dorset, Starting from the fishing village of West Bay.

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The bright sunny skies that were forecast early didn’t appear until the turn around point of the walk, but it was a lovely temperature, perfect for walking.

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I had a feeling I was going to find this challenging as Steve has turned into a mean, lean rowing machine over the past months! training hard on his beloved rowing machine and although I have good hill fitness, walking Basil each day, it’s not a patch on the level of fitness of the ‘Bear Grills replica’ that was taking this photo.

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Yes, this is the man…..the lean mean rowing machine, the Bear Grills replica, who’s real name is Steve Clark!

So up and down cliffs we climbed and having lovely sunshine of the return leg was wonderful!  We passed a huge number of walkers on the way back, enjoying the sea air and warm sunshine.  I was right, I found this very challenging as the keen pace (mean pace is probably more fitting!) that Steve set, over the entire walk was not for the faint hearted.

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….off and racing….from West Bay….
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looking back after the climb from Eype’s Mouth
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Approaching the tiny seaside village of Seatown, dwarfed by Golden Cap in the background.
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The Anchor Inn at Seatown .has just undergone a 1 million pound refurbishment….not at all impressed with the outdoor terrace seating and the cliff side beer garden hasn’t been changed much at all.
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Leaving Seatown for Golden Cap
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We reached Golden Cap in record time!!!!!
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Steve at the ruins of St. Gabriel’s
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Looking back to the west on our way back……Lyme Regis in the distance
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looking back to the farm house we passed through after leaving Stonebarrow Hill….the house is the white one at the top of the shot
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We walked back through Seatown and through a mob of cows, calves and yes to my horror, a giant bull!!!!!!
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These cliffs were pretty tough, especially following the Bear Grills replica, who was still cracking a lean speed!!!
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What a pretty view of the sea…..walking down into Eype’s Mouth
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The last hill of the day and the lean mean rowing machine was not flagging!!
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Back at last, West Bay Beach in Dorset
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Steve enjoying fresh Cod on the beach at West Bay
I couldn't wait to massage my poor dying feet in the pebbles on West bay Beach
I couldn’t wait to massage my poor dying feet in the pebbles on West bay Beach

Well, I made it in one piece and feeling pretty good today, with no blisters or sore muscles.  A lot of stretching beforehand which I think helped my recovery and the hot bath last night was a dream.  Steve of course was right as rain!

 

17 miles (27kms) walking the Wessex Ridgeway, up and down steep hills and boggy, rough terrain…..yep, I am exhausted, but the feeling of satisfaction is awesome!

Sunday in Dorset, England and the forecast on this Mother’s Day was looking amazing for a long hike in the countryside again.

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walking along the Wessex Ridgeway , west from Bulbarrow Hill towards Alton Pancras……a long way!

 It was wonderful really, but I made the mistake of having a breakfast of only 120 calories, and should have drank more water before we left, so I was flagging towards the end of the 4 and 3/4 hour hike, feeling so knackered climbing the last hill, Bulbarrow Hill at the end.

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I had to drag myself up this last hill, to complete the end of a pretty hard going 27 km hike…….

 Steve kept up a keen pace and waited for poor Jenny at the last gate!  My sunflower seeds and pumkin seeds helped with my energy levels a little, but the pint of Stowford Press cider on the way home at the Baker Arms was fantastic!!

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A pint of Stowford Press cider at the Baker arms in Child Okeford was bliss…!!!!!!

Roast pheasant was on the menu tonight……quite a simple and very lean roast.  You little beauty……what a great achievement we accomplished today……..

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I prepared the pheasant when we arrived home, pre boiled some potatoes for roasting and prepared carrots and cabbage to cook before serving…….this will be a great finish to this incredible day

Well, I am relieved to be sitting down, writing this post and Steve has just made some very strong, wonderful espresso coffee……just a wonderful hit to keep me lively!  I think I will sleep well tonight!  But I have washing to hang out now before the warmth of the sun leaves the day……..thanks for reading my post!  Exercise is a great healer!

The Wessex Ridgeway, half a Marathon, up and down hills and rough terain in North Dorset, Bulbarrow Hill, Dorset Gap and Ball Hill…..again!!!

Well, this is proving to be one of our best walking trails in England so far, inland that is, as Golden Cap on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset along the South West Coast Path will be my favourite, until the day I die!

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Golden Cap on the south coast of Dorset is hard to beat!

Weather report for today was mixed, with cool blustery showers and sunny spells, but it was Sunday and we love a long walk on a Sunday, so decided, when we woke up to go………

I quickly scrambled an egg for my breakfast…..put a handful of pumpkins seed in my pocket, packed a couple of apples, water bottle and some of Steve’s seed/coconut mix and we were off…..

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The beautifully small, but graceful church at Wooland, St Mary’s

We started the walk at the village of Wooland and parked outside the gorgeous little church there.  We walked out of the village up the steep road to Bulbarrow Hill……it was magnificent sunshine…..wonderful cool reviving air……

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Approaching Bulbarrow Hill……

We planned to have roast lamb later today (boned, rolled half leg from Waitrose) so my mind was set to do a good ‘workout’ today and I can safely say, yes it was certainly that……my poor old feet are recovering well now after a beautiful long soak in a hot Epsom salt bath!

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Four hours walking in the English countryside has to make anyone feel good…….So, the lamb is almost cooked now, thanks to Steve and how much am I looking forward to a good movie tonight……..no ‘Monday workitis’ for me!!!

weekend walking….Bulbarrow Hill and Compton Abbas to Shaftesbury……..what gorgeous weather for walking!

What weather we have had this weekend!  Stunning…..so we planned to walk both days in magnificent sunshine…….thank you Dad!

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Steve at the top of Melbury Hill, on the way to Shaftesbury

  Compton Abbas to Shaftesbury we walked on Saturday………………………

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Cann Mill on the way to Shaftesbury
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Perfect weather for a walk in the countryside in Dorset
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The view from the decking of the Mitre Inn in Shaftesbury is wonderful…….looking back from where we started……. up and over Melbury Hill
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Steve enjoying the sunshine and a very decent real ale at The Mitre Inn, after our walk into Shaftesbury

Sunday was sensational weather for a long walk, so we drove over to Wooland and walked around Bulbarrow Hill….it was fantastic.

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South West Coast Path ….West Bay to Eype’s Mouth, Seatown, Golden Cap and return……

Saturday was sensational weather for a walk on the South Coast Path.  We started at the crack of dawn and saw the sun rise at West Bay in Dorset.

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It was a very chilly morning and I was so wanting to snuggle back under the duvet, but I am pleased I climbed out of our warm bed early as seeing the sun come up from West Bay in Dorset was beautiful….
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Eype’s Mouth and Seatown, here we come….
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What an amazing morning for a walk….
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Mist in the distance but very clear skies on the coast
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Steve taking a breather, looking towards Golden Cap on the South West Coast Path in Dorset
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Looking down into Seatown with Golden Cap in the background
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Almost there……Jenny Kirwan (me) on the way to Golden Cap, the highest point on the South Coast of England
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looking back into Seatown with the cliffs around Eype’s Mouth and West Bay further on
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The views (and steep climbs!!) from Golden Cap always takes my breath away!!
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Golden Cap on the South Coast of Dorset
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Yippee, I made it!!!
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Looking down into Charmouth and further on to Lyme Regis from Golden Cap
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Steve loves this section of The South West Coast Path in Dorset just as I do……this is almost at the end of the walk, heading back into West Bay, our starting point
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four hours and 13 miles later……..back in West Bay, Dorset.

That was the most wonderful, stunning and hard going!! walk.  So rewarding and my dad loved the incredible views through my eyes.  We walked for 4 hours and were looking very forward to a pub lunch, closer to home at The Saxon Inn in Child Oakford, Dorset.

Sunny Sunday in Autumn…….Walking West Bay to Charmouth and Return…….13 miles (22kms)!……..Sensational……

Well, tomorrow’s forecast is looking gorgeous for a long walk, so we are heading down to West Bay, near Bridport in Dorset for a West Coast Path walk.  My cold is on it’s last legs, so I should be OK….but not up to the speed of ‘rowing machine man’ but he’ll just have to wait for me!  I have lost a lot of fitness through a long bout of flu, then a heavy cold…..three weeks in sickness hell……but I feel I am almost back on top now…..bring on the cliff climbs!

 

Approaching Beer head in Devon on the South West Coast Path with gale force winds!

We will walk for five hours, covering around 13 miles (22kms) with the most wonderful sea and countryside views.  It always revives my spirit and my  soul walking in this part of the world….my dad will love seeing this landscape through my eyes.  I believe he is walking in each step I take each day.

Jenny Kirwan (me!) on Chesil Beach in Dorset, England. This is one of the south coast's beautiful unspoilt beaches.
Jenny Kirwan (me!) on Chesil Beach in Dorset, England. This is one of the south coast’s beautiful unspoilt beaches.

We plan to finish with a pub lunch on the way home, most likely at the Fiddleford Inn, where we won’t mind a calorie overdose after such a strenuous, physically and mentally rewarding day.  I will post some pics of the walk soon…………………….

Another amazing climb….Charmouth to Eype’s Mouth in Dorset.

Sensational walking weather yesterday, with a slight cool northerly breeze.  We walked 12.5 miles (around 20 kms) up and down steep cliffs and hills on the wonderful Jurassic Coast in Dorset.  We started off early, walking from Charmouth to Golden Cap, Seatown and Eype’s Mouth and return, finishing with a well earned pub lunch at the delightful Fiddleford Inn in the beautiful Dorset countryside.  It doesn’t get much better than this for the outdoor lovers that we are.  I placed another stone on top of Golden Cap for my darling dad…..he loved the views…..

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Walking up Stonebarrow Hill out of Charmouth…..so still, clear and cool!
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We reached Golden Cap in no time…….Steve looking very pleased with himself!
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Leaving Seatown heading to Eype’s Mouth
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looking back towards Seatown with Golden Cap in the distance

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Views towards Symondsbury and Bridport, in beautiful Dorset
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Magnificent weather for walking…..the cliffs and hills were pretty hard work!
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Heading towards Eype’s Mouth
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Coming down this slope was fair enough, but the climb back is going to be a challenge!!
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Eype’s Mouth Beach……boys having a dip to get rid of their hangovers, so one young man told us!!
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The calm shores of Eype’s Mouth Beach
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Back we must climb…..Steve walking with the locals!
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Jenny Kirwan (Me!) feeling quite exhilarated, eating an apple! and knowing we were homeward bound….
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Wow! We deserved this! A pretty decent Beef and Ale Pie at the Fiddleford Inn, Dorset
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Yep! We built up a pretty decent appetite that’s no secret!
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The delightful Fiddleford Inn, Fiddleford, Dorset was a great pub to finish such a magnificent walk on.

 

 

 

What great weather for walking in the Dorset Countryside……

How much do I love Dorset?  So very much and I will make the most of the gorgeous sunny weather we are having today, with a walk from Brynmor Acres down into Cerne Abbas, taking in part of the Wessex Ridge way and magnificent countryside views.  It’s around 9kms round trip, perfect distance before lunchtime.  Unfortunately Steve is still limping from an achilles tendon strain, so I’m on my own again!

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Leaving Brynmor Acres

Perfect conditions for a long walk with full sun and only a slight breeze…..beautiful.  Bring on the vitamin D!

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Back to Brynmor Acres, Cerne Abbas, Dorset

 

 

Jurassic Coast in Dorset

This stunning, favourite coastline of mine covers 95 miles from East Devon to Dorset with rocks recording 185 million years of the earth’s history. This World Heritage Site covers three geological time periods…..Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.

Lulworth, just past Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, Dorset
Lulworth, just past Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, Dorset

Climbing the cliff paths around this coast can be pretty demanding, but worth the pain and suffering when one is rewarded with such breathtaking views.

Jenny kirwan (me) about to tackle another steep section of the South West Coast Path near Lulworth Cove in Dorset
Jenny Kirwan (me) about to tackle another steep section of the South West Coast Path near Lulworth Cove in Dorset

 

 

MCS Napoli beached at Branscombe

The anchor at Branscombe Beachfront
The Napoli anchor at Branscombe Beachfront

This was an interesting bit of information we found as we walked from Seaton to Beer then on to Branscombe on the South West Coast Path in Devon.  The beaching of the container ship Napoli occurred in 2007 and this anchor was recovered after the bow was taken away.

Charmouth to Golden Cap and Seatown

After a days rest walking 20 miles (around 32kms) on the South West Coast Path, we decided today we would walk one of our favourite stretches of this Jurassic Coastline.

Livestock everywhere on the South West Coast Path
Livestock everywhere on the South West Coast Path

We started off just as the sun was rising, a beautiful sight on a rather frosty clear morning.  I wasn’t expecting to see so many cows taking over the path!  They are quite harmless stupid creatures.  As long as you don’t disturb them or go near their calves, the are OK.

Frost covering a welcome seat on the way to Golden Cap
Frost covering a welcome seat on the way to Golden Cap

Feeling like mountain goats again, we made our way up some decent slopes to Golden Cap.  It was a stunning bright morning.

Signs on the way to Golden Cap
Signs on the way to Golden Cap

It was a very wet summer in England this year and the rainfall has continued into the Autumn, causing many landslides on the south coast due to the unstable, damp ground.

The top of Golden Cap in Dorset
The top of Golden Cap in Dorset

We made it to the highest point on the south coast, Golden Cap in Dorset.  Well worth the steep climbs for sure.  We added a rock to the pile that someone had started and headed down into Seatown.

Looking back towards Golden on our way to Seatown
Looking back towards Golden Cap on our way to Seatown

We love this part of the world.  The steep climbs and descents along this section of the South West Coast Path require some level of fitness otherwise one will find it quite demanding.

Seatown beachfront in Dorset
Seatown beachfront in Dorset

Seatown beach was our half way mark and after fuelling up with water and an energy bar (my home made muesli bars) we were off back up to Golden Cap and on to Charmouth.  Nine miles (14.5 kms) wasn’t a bad start to the day!

Walking down Stonebarrow Lane into Axmouth....whew!!
Walking down Stonebarrow Lane into Axmouth….whew!!

What a great relief to reach Stonebarrow Lane…..all down hill now from here into Axmouth and back to the cottage in Seaton.

 

 

 

Sydmonton Court Estate, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Country House.

This part of the world in Hampshire is wonderful …..and the walking trails aren’t too bad either!  I would highly recommend the walks around this area of Kingsclere, Hannington, The Gallops, Sydmonton, Ecchinswell.  You can make the walk as long or as short as you like and organize it so you finish up for lunch and/or a pint in one of the surrounding country pubs.  A wonderful day out and don’t forget to take some snap shots to look back on.

Sensational views from Watership Down to Sydmonton Court.
Sensational views from Watership Down to Sydmonton Court.

The views  from Watership Down are a prize.  After you leave The Gallops, the path takes you to Watership Down (and all down! hill from there!)  Pick a clear day, even cold! and you won’t be disappointed….the views down into Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s country house are sensational at Sydmonton.

River Parett Trail, South Perrott to Chedington Village in Dorset.

How amazing it was to walk out of Wisteria Cottage, cross the road and be on the River Parrett Trail in South Perrott.  This long distance walking trail starts at the hilltop village of Chedington and runs for 50 miles (80kms) to the mouth of the river at Bridgewater Bay in Somerset.

We walked from South Perrott on this path through the fields to Chedington a couple of times a week…..it was beautiful in the summertime and breathtaking in the winter.

The River Parrett Trail  from South Perrott to Chedingtonin the winter was breathtaking
The River Parrett Trail from South Perrott to Chedingtonin the winter was breathtaking

Many enjoyable Sundays were had walking the trail to Wynyards Gap Inn at Chedington for a couple of pints and a bite to eat, then heading back (downhill!!) to Wisteria Cottage.

Jenny Kirwan (me) in Picket Lane in South Perrott one fine Sunday afternoon.
Jenny Kirwan (me) in Picket Lane in South Perrott one fine Sunday afternoon.

We started at Picket Lane, just off the main road through South Perrott and began the climb to Chedington.

Looking towards Chedington Village from Soth Perrott.
Looking towards Chedington Village from South Perrott.

We usually saw the ocassional hiker on this leg of the path and a lot of locals taking their dogs out for a lovely run.

Steve climbing over the water trough into the next field on the River Parrett Trail.
Steve climbing over the water trough into the next field on the River Parrett Trail.

This was a particularly gorgeous summer’s day in England, which can be rather rare these days! but we were lapping up the country air and looking forward to a pint and a chat at the pub In Chedington village.

Steve following the River Parrett Trail to Wynyard's Gap Pub.
Steve following the River Parrett Trail to Wynyard’s Gap Inn.

 

The landscapes to Chedington and surrounds were wonderful……..

passing newly shorn sheep and a delightful thatched cottage on th River Parrett Trail to Chedington.
passing newly shorn sheep and a delightful thatched cottage on the River Parrett Trail to Chedington.

Well, we had only been walking for 25 minutes and the pub was now only five minutes away…..perfect distance really for a Sunday stroll!

The last field is quite a steep climb in parts on the River Parrett Trail to Chedington.
The last field is quite a steep climb in parts on the River Parrett Trail to Chedington.

Whew!  That last climb through the fields to Chedington is pretty tough and steep…..not for the unfit!

At Chedington, the start of the River Parrett Trail
At Chedington, the start of the River Parrett Trail

Well, we built up a thirst and I was looking forward to a half Stowford Press Cider and Steve was chomping at the bit for a pint of Speckled Hen!

Jenny Kirwan (me) at Wynyards Gap Inn, Chedington Village.
Jenny Kirwan (me) at Wynyards Gap Inn, Chedington Village.

We loved the beer garden at Wynyards Gapp Inn; the wiews down into the village of South Perrott and up again are pretty special.  Steve was the photographer and I was waitress!

Jenny Kirwan (me!) and Steve at Wynyards Gap Inn, Chedington.
Jenny Kirwan (me!) and Steve at Wynyards Gap Inn, Chedington.

So after a couple of leisurly beverages, along with a Blue Vinny Ploughman’s and a chargrilled chicken and bacon sandwich (the gorgeous bread is from the Evershot Bakery) we were ready to walk off the calories! This pub has a great menu which sources the best local West Country ingredients. They also have a “Little People Menu” catering for kids and a “Senior Citizens Menu”  weekdays for the oldies.

Down the River Parrett Trail we go..........
Down the River Parrett Trail we go……….

Just as well it’s a half an hour walk down hill!  After a couple of pints in the sunshine, I was feeling very relaxed and happy to be in the gorgeous fresh air with or without the smelly sheep!

looking back the River Parrett Trail with Chedington Court in the distance
looking back the River Parrett Trail with Chedington Court in the distance

We had one more stile to pass through, it was an interesting one designed and made by a local Somerset artist.  Big enough for people to pass through but too small for the fat dairy cows and mean looking bullocks!

One more stile to go through on the River Parret Trail
One more stile to go through on the River Parret Trail
Entering Picket Lane, back into the village of South Perrott.
Entering Picket Lane, back into the village of South Perrott.

Entering South Perrott in the sunshine was a lovely sight, passing by some lovely old cottages until we made it to our own Wisteria Cottage.

Shepherd's Farmhouse, Picket Lane in South Perrott
Shepherd’s Farmhouse, Picket Lane in South Perrott

Winton Cottage in South Perrott is owned by Syvia Daw.  She has a wonderful veg garden and apple orchard which she often shared with us, leaving treats on our back door step.

Winton Cottage in South Perrot, Dorset
Winton Cottage in South Perrot, Dorset

A great day out and loved the walk up and down the River Parrett Trail.  Wisteria Cottage here we are….Usually the F1 Grand Prix would be about to start and I would probably make a loaf of bread for the week ahead………….

Granary bread made with flour from the Maiden Newton Bakery
Granary bread made with flour from the Maiden Newton Bakery

 

Wisteria Cottage in South Perrott in full bloom!
Wisteria Cottage, South Perrott in full bloom!

 

 

The Iron Age Fort, Ladle Hill, Watership Down, Sydmonton, Hampshire.

A cool Sunday morning in England and a long hike was definately on the cards.  We would walk to The Iron Age Fort at Ladle Hill, starting at The Gallops in Kingsclere, surrounding the beautiful landcapes of Watership Down, Ashley Warren and the Sydmonton Court Estate. I made us some freshly baked cheese and onion scones and filled a thermos of hot coffee.  Gear on (boots, coats, hats, scalf!) ….and we were off.

Snow drops carpeting the ground were beautiful on this cold February morning.
Snow drops carpeting the ground were beautiful on this cold February morning around Sydmonton and Watership Down.

We didn’t see a soul out walking….I guess most people were wrapped up, cosy in bed on this winter Sunday morning.  We were as keen as mustard and loved being out in the fresh air!  Iron Age Fort, here we come….

The Iron Age Fort at Ladle Hill.
The Iron Age Fort at Ladle Hill.

Time for a nice hot coffee break before we head down to the country pile of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sydmonton Court.

Coffee break at Watership Down with views of the Sydmonton Court Estate in the distance.....awesome!
Coffee break at Watership Down with views of the Sydmonton Court Estate in the distance…..awesome!

We were finishing this walk at The George and Dragon Pub with a pint and perhaps their Sunday Roast Lamb……..have to keep the pace up!

Entrance gates to Sydmonton Court, the country pile of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Entrance gates to Sydmonton Court, the country pile of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.

We love the walks around Sydmonton Court Estate in all weather conditions…..as long as you have good quality, waterproof hiking boots it’s an ejoyable thing to do and keeps you fit too!

Trees lining the driveway of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's Estate, Sydmonton Court are still a magnificent sight in the winter time.
Trees lining the driveway of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Estate, Sydmonton Court are still a magnificent sight in the winter time.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning….off to the George and Dragon now to see what’s on offer for a Sunday Roast.  In any case it will be an ejoyable pint or two after another long walk around The Iron Age Fort, Watership Down and Ladle Hill in the Hampshire countryside.

The George and Dragon Pub at Wolverton Townsend
The George and Dragon Pub at Wolverton Townsend

 

Sydmonton Court Estate, Hampshire, Country Home of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.

This part of Hampshire in England is a favourite part of the countryside for Steve and I.  Walking trails around this area take you through the Sydmonton Court Estate, Watership down, The Gallops, Ladle Hill on great Litchfield Down, Burghclere and surrounding areas of Ecchinswell, Hannington and Kingsclere.  It’s impressive walking trails are equally as good in the winter months as in the Summer.  The country home of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber is Sydmonton Court; it’s beautiful, surrounded by well maintained landscapes and magnificent views.

A glimpse of Sydmonton Court, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Country House
A glimpse of Sydmonton Court, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Country House
he tree lined path passes through Sydmonton Court Estate
The tree lined right of way path passes through Sydmonton Court Estate
The hedge lined driveway to Andrew Lloyd Webber's country house, Sydmonton Court.
The hedge lined driveway to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s country house, Sydmonton Court.
Front gates and the Gatehouse to Sydmonton Court Estate, country house of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Front gates and the Gatehouse to Sydmonton Court Estate, country house of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Looking through the beautiful iron gates down the drive of Sydmonton Court, Andrew lloyd Webber's Country house in Hampshire.
Looking through the beautiful iron gates down the drive of Sydmonton Court, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Country house in Hampshire.
Fields next to Laundry Cottages on the Sydmonton Court Estate.
Fields next to Laundry Cottages on the Sydmonton Court Estate.
Laundry Cottages, Sydmonton Court Estate, Hampshire
Laundry Cottages, Sydmonton Court Estate, Hampshire
The Polo Feld on Sydmonton Court Estate.
The Polo Field on Sydmonton Court Estate.

We have spent many enjoyable hours walking around this part of Hampshire and I would have to say this is one of the best walks in the area (see my hiking blogs) We would often finish up with a pint or two in the George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend or another local pub in the area.

Looking from The Gallops down into the Sydmonton Court Estate, Hampshire.
Looking from The Gallops down into the Sydmonton Court Estate, Hampshire.
Park House Stables owned by The Balding Family are an awsome sight in this area of Kingsclere.
Park House Stables owned by The Balding Family are an awesome sight in this area of Kingsclere.
The training track at Park House Stables in Kingsclere.
The training track at Park House Stables in Kingsclere.
Dairy cows grazing up Freemantle Park Down above Kingsclere and Park House Stables
Dairy cows grazing up Freemantle Park Down above Kingsclere and Park House Stables
Freemantle Park Down
Freemantle Park Down
Steve heading toward the tv trasmitter at Hannington.
Steve heading toward the TV transmitter at Hannington.

We could see this TV transmitter from the garden at Haughurst House and it reminded us every time of the wonderful countryside and walks up and around Hannington and Kingsclere.  I called this ‘Steve’s Tower.’

Coffee break at Watership Down on The Sydmonton Court Estate
Coffee break at Watership Down on The Sydmonton Court Estate

Particularly in the winter time, I would quite often make a batch of healthy wholemeal cheese and onion scones to take on our long hikes, usually taking around four hours (21kms) and finishing around lunchtime for a pint in a lovely country pub.  wonderful!!

Kingsclere, The Gallops, Sydmonton Court, Ecchinswell, Ashford Hill walk.

What do you do on a coolish, sunny bank holiday in England?  Go for a long walk in the countryside is the perfect answer for me……and that’s just what Steve and I did.  The lovely Sarah next door dropped us off at our starting point in Kingsclere, that way we could finish at Ashford Hill with lunch at The Ship Inn and only a short walk back home.

Today’s walk would be around 13 miles (22 kms) starting in Kingsclere and finishing at The Ship Inn at Ashford Hill for some lunch, then another 25 minute walk home through the water meadows.

Steve and I start the walk in Kingsclere and head towards Cottingtons Hill, through Park House Stables and Freemantle Park Down.
Steve and I start the walk in Kingsclere and head towards Cottingtons Hill, through Park House Stables and Freemantle Park Down.

The weather was perfect really for a long walk, partly sunny with a slight breeze and no rain forecast!!

As usual, Steve set a rather keen pace and this continued for the entire walk! with the poor photographer having to run to catch up all the time after every shot!  Can’t complain as this enabled us to finish just on the 4 hour mark for lunch in Ashford Hill.

Walking up through Freemantle Park Down.
Walking up through Freemantle Park Down.

Because we started at the bottom of a hill, this meant we had a great deal of hill climbing to do! and this went on for quite some time….even when we reached The Gallops the acent continued, although at a gentler gradient.  The higher we climbed, the better the views.

looking back towards the famous Park House Stables training establishment, owned and run by the Balding family, Kingsclere, Newbury.
looking back towards the famous Park House Stables training establishment, owned and run by the Balding family, Kingsclere, Newbury.
Jenny Kirwan (me) at The Gallops, Kingsclere.
Jenny Kirwan (me) at The Gallops, Kingsclere.

Our gym fitness was paying off as we seemed to march up these slopes without too much difficulty and the views were wonderful.

poppies growing at the edge of a crop at the end of The Gallops, Kingsclere.
poppies growing at the edge of a crop at the end of The Gallops, Kingsclere.

We continued over The Gallops to Nuthanger Down and Ladle Hill on to Sydmonton.  This would have to be the start of the most favourite part of the walk for me.  We would soon be entering Sydmonton Court Estate, the wonderful country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

a glimpse of Sydmonton Court, the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
a glimpse of Sydmonton Court, the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
"Wait for me Steve" says the photographer, being left behind again!
“Wait for me Steve” says the photographer, being left behind again!

On we marched…entering Sydmonton Court Estate towards Ecchinswell and loving every minute of this beautiful landscape.  Weather was perfect.  The coolish breeze was enough to cool us down and stopping for a coffee break was wonderful……..

The first gate to the right of way through Sydmonton Court Estate.
The first gate to the right of way through Sydmonton Court Estate.
The impressive roof top was all we could manage to see of Sydmonton Court as we walked happily by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's country house.
The impressive roof top was all we could manage to see of Sydmonton Court as we walked happily by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s country house.
The post box at Sydmonton Court Estate.
The post box at Sydmonton Court Estate.
A wonderful looking apple tree on the Sydmonton Court Estate.
A wonderful looking apple tree on the Sydmonton Court Estate.
A glimpse of the front of Sydmonton Court, the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
A glimpse of the front of Sydmonton Court, the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The pristine entrance to the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sydmonton Court.
The pristine entrance to the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sydmonton Court.
Even the sheep are in pristine condition on the Sydmonton Court Estate!
Even the sheep are in pristine condition on the Sydmonton Court Estate!
With laundry cottages in the distance and the sun still shining, we were loving the walk.
With laundry cottages in the distance and the sun still shining, we were loving the walk.

Ecchinswell was the next village we would pass through, but this time we would take a different route, up a steep hill passing Laundry Cottages. “Bring it on”, I thought to myself as I saw what was in front of me!  I would prefer to have seen a lovely level, flat path now, but that was not to be!  Steve still kept the pace at a keen level!!

"This is the best walk!" says Steve as we stopped for a coffe break in Ecchinswell.
“This is the best walk!” says Steve as we stopped for a coffe break in Ecchinswell.

As we entered a field over a style my heart began to pound heavily as the sight before me was not what I wanted to see.  A field full of young frisky bullocks was quite frightening to me.  “Oh my god! we are not going through this field, are we?” I said to Steve in disbelief.  “I’m afraid so!” he said.  So, on we marched……..I seemed to have picked up the pace at a rate of knots, picking up a hefty stick just in case the interested bullocks liked the look of me.  They kept running in groups and stopping to look, then running again.  They were so muscular and heavy, no doubt an easy task for them to knock down either of us at high speed.

A field full of these frisky bullocks picked up my pace!!!!!!
A field full of these frisky bullocks picked up my pace!!!!!!
Safe at last! out of the bullock field and back on the path again.
Safe at last! out of the bullock field and back on the path again.

Wow, that was unexpected! but we were on the home straight now, and close to reaching 20 kms (12 miles)  The liquid refreshments at The Ship Inn at Ashford Hill were making my muscles relax and I was beginning to feel a little weary now, after 4 hours pounding through the countryside!!  What a great achievement we have accomplished today….and being together sharing the same goals has made it even greater!

St Pauls Church, Ashford Hill
St Pauls Church, Ashford Hill

What a great feeling it was reaching our destination.  We would have lunch at The Ship Inn then walk around 25 minutes back through the water meadows until we reached our cottage.  Can’t wait to take a hot bath!!

The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill.
The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill.
A pint of London Pride real ale for Steve and a Suffolk Cider for me was well deserved after our 20 km hike
A pint of London Pride real ale for Steve and a Suffolk Cider for me was well deserved after our 20 km hike
A sausage and onion sandwich and a bowl of crispy, hot chips at The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill was a winning combination with the cider and real ale.
A sausage and onion sandwich and a bowl of crispy, hot chips at The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill was a winning combination with the cider and real ale.

South West Coast Path, from Charmouth to Golden Cap, Seatown and back.

Golden Cap, the most stunning South West Coast Path walk one could ever wish for!
Golden Cap, the most stunning South West Coast Path walk one could ever wish for!

It’s impossible for me to hide my love for this wonderful part of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.  It most definitely is my most favourite walk in England.  On a fine day, the views are breathtaking and ever changing as you walk through fields and up and down cliffs to reach the top of Golden Cap.  A pretty good level of fitness is required if you wish to attempt this walk as there are many steep climbs but you are rewarded with the finest views of the coast line. 

Golden Cap is the highest point on the south coast of Great Britain at 191m and visible for ten miles in each direction along the coastline.

Today, Steve and I set off early for this 8mile journey.  We start at Charmouth where we climb Stonebarrow Hill.  This is a long, steep lane that leads to the start of the path.  You can also start this walk from Charmouth beach.  This path has recently been re-opened but was closed for some time due to the landslips and cliff erosion.  We walked back on this re-opened path, but in my opinion, it really isn’t a safe route and when wet I would imagine a slippery, muddy mess!

After a steep climb up Stonebarrow Hill, Steve and I begin the magnificent walk to Golden cap and Seatown.
After a steep climb up Stonebarrow Hill, Steve and I begin the magnificent walk to Golden cap and Seatown.

We pass a lovely cottage as we continue along the West Coast Path towards Golden Cap.
We pass a lovely cottage as we continue along the West Coast Path towards Golden Cap.
We pass through a field with the local cows and a massive bull!  Lets hope he's no where to be seen on our return!
We pass through a field with the local cows and a massive bull! Lets hope he's no where to be seen on our return!

The weather conditions were brilliant for walking; sunny with a slight breeze.  The cows we passed in the fields were not aggressive at all but I didn’t like the look of the massive bull sitting down resting as we passed him.  Please God let him be further away on our way back!!!

Golden Cap, here we come!
Golden Cap, here we come!
The hills were getting steeper.....
The hills were getting steeper.....
....as we climbed higher (looking back towards Charmouth and Lyme Regis)
....as we climbed higher (looking back towards Charmouth and Lyme Regis)

Even though we had quite a few hilly steep climbs, the smile on my face said it all.  I was enjoying this part of the coast just like I knew I would.  Fantastic!

Looking back towards our starting point....we were getting higher and closer to Golden Cap.
Looking back towards our starting point....we were getting higher and closer to Golden Cap.

We snacked on a banana and had plenty of water along the way.  The plan was to have cod and chips on the beach at the end of the day, so this exercise was essential to get rid of any guilt we would have eating the best battered fish I’ve ever tasted!

This last climb to Golden Cap is well passed the scale of a 15 hill on the tredmill!!
This last climb to Golden Cap is well passed the scale of a 15 hill on the treadmill!!
We made it!!  Steve on top of Golden Cap...now on to Seatown then back again
We made it!! Steve on top of Golden Cap...now on to Seatown then back again

The views from this height are totally amazing.  We stopped to admire the view for a while then headed towards Seatown.

We reach our destination, Seatown beach.
We reach our destination, Seatown beach.

Wow!  What an amazing walk……but we both had to turn around and go back which involved more steep climbs and stunning views in the other direction.  Seatown beach was beautiful, a quiet spot to sit and re-charge the batteries.  The Anchor Inn is a great pub to stop for lunch with sensational views.  Their beer garden is one of my favourite spots, situated on the cliff top overlooking the beach.  With a lovely thirst quenching beverage and perhaps a Ploughman’s lunch (Stilton cheese, branston Pickle, pickled onions, crusty bread and a little salad) this is hard to beat after a walk.  But it was still morning! and we had a long way to go before we could even think about such a rewarding finish…..so off we went, back up to Golden Cap and on to Charmouth.

Jenny Kirwan (me) walking through a healthy crop just out of Seatown towards Golden Cap
Jenny Kirwan (me) walking through a healthy crop just out of Seatown towards Golden Cap
Looking towards our climb to Golden cap from Seatown.
Looking towards our climb to Golden cap from Seatown.

So, we were on our way back to Charmouth and do you think the bull was in the field on our way back?  Yep!  He certainly was!!  Not only that, but the massive creature was right on the path and I could see him from two fields away.  I marched through this field like some machine on wheels!  I was SO scared!  Thankfully Mr. Bull  didn’t take the slightest bit of notice of us….I even had a brief moment to stop and take a quick, hasty photo of him!

Mr. Bull happily grazing with his girls! on our way back to Charmouth.
Mr. Bull happily grazing with his girls! on our way back to Charmouth.
Looking back at our fantastic journey to Golden cap and Seatown.
Looking back at our fantastic journey to Golden cap and Seatown.
Charmouth.....we are nearly at the end of our journey!
Charmouth.....we are nearly at the end of our journey!

Yippee!  What a wonderful sight, Charmouth here we come.  We decide to take the path that had been closed for some time back to Charmouth but was a little disappointed as it wasn’t quite safe, with deep cracks and grooves underfoot from the remains of the landslip and cliff erosion.  but it wasn’t an issue at this stage as I was still smiling from such a brilliant walk.

Charmouth Beach, what a wonderful finish to a brilliant 4hours walking.
Charmouth Beach, what a wonderful finish to a brilliant 4hours walking.
The best Cod in batter I have ever had at Seaton's 4c's fish shop and restaurant.  No guilt here!!!
The best Cod in batter I have ever had at Seaton's 4c's fish shop and restaurant. No guilt here!!!

Such an amazing feeling at the end of today to have walked my favourite stretch on the South Coast of England.  Steve loved it just as much.  We teamed our fish ‘n chips on the beach with a bottle of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…….wish Fiona and Rob were with us because they would have loved this day!

Picnic at Seaton, East Devon

The bowling green and clock tower at Seaton
The bowling green and clock tower at Seaton

It wasn’t ideal picnic conditions today but we were determined to have a picnic while staying this week in Seaton.  We found a lovely sheltered spot above the beach.  This little hut had a thatched roof and the views were wonderful.

The thatched hut was a wonderful sheltered spot to have a picnic
The thatched hut was a wonderful sheltered spot to have a picnic

So, after a small shop in the town we came up with quite a lovely picnic.  We had walked another stretch of the South West Coast Path today, so we had quite an appetite!!  We had cold chicken and leg ham, scotch eggs, pork pie, cheddar and branston pickle along with some crusty grain bread, rocket and cherry tomatoes.  With a glass of red wine in hand, this was a very satisfying way to spend an early evening.

Our picnic after a West Coast Path walk on the beach at Seaton
Our picnic after a West Coast Path walk on the beach at Seaton

South West Coast Path, The Undercliffs, Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis.

Looking west from Seaton, Devon
Looking west from Seaton, Devon

I absolutely love the hilly countryside around Devon and Dorset and in this area there are some of the most spectacular (and arduous!) Coast Path walks.  We’ve based ourselves in Seaton, Devon this week to walk some of our favourite stretches of this famous coast path.  Today is Steve’s favourite West Coast Path walk.  Surprise, surprise, it’s one of the most strenuous, difficult, physically challenging walks on the coast!  Steve has always been one for a testing physical challenge and this walk was just that.  The Undercliffs walk from Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis we have walked many times…..so we knew the dangers and how difficult and rewarding it can be.

Leaving Seaton at Axmouth Harbour at the start of the walk
Leaving Seaton at Axmouth Harbour at the start of the walk

The Undercliffs are part of the ‘Jurassic Coast.’ This magnificent reserve covers wild woodlands, land-slipped cliffs, fossils, geology and spectacular wildlife.  It was declared a National Nature reserve in 1955.  It is one of the largest active coastal landslide systems in western Europe and lies within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

The Undercliff Walk from Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis can be extremely dangerous.
The Undercliff Walk from Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis can be extremely dangerous.

Rain was forcast to come through around mid morning, so we needed to get an early start to reach our destination without getting too wet.  We packed our rain coats and a few supplies and set off in good spirits……..

Wake up Jenny! This first hill goes on forever leading up to the golf course at Axmouth.
Wake up Jenny! This first hill goes on forever leading up to the golf course at Axmouth.

Yep!  This lane up to the Axmouth Golf Course was a killer of a hill that seemed to get steeper as we walked on.   When we finally make it to the Golf Course we then had to continue uphill until we made it to level land for a little breather!

Steve marching! through the Golf Course towards higher but level ground.
Steve marching! through the Golf Course towards higher but level ground.
From Axmouth Golf Course, looking back down into Seaton.
From Axmouth Golf Course, looking back down into Seaton.

The views on this walk are quite breathtaking but soon we would be approaching the Undercliffs where it would be pretty tough going with only a few glimpses of the sea along the way.  Weather still looked bright but rain was definately on the way.

Before we entered the Undercliffs this sign greets you!  We took 2 and 1/2 hours to walk to Lyme Regis!!!
Before we entered the Undercliffs this sign greets you! We took 2 and 1/2 hours to walk to Lyme Regis!!!
Steve climbing down one of the many sections of steps in the Undercliffs.
Steve climbing down one of the many sections of steps in the Undercliffs.

I was enjoying this walk so much and Steve was too.  The Undercliff’s warm and sheltered micro climate was a different world away from the windy cliff tops and pebble beaches surrounding it.  Steve spotted a lizard and we passed a tiny Hazel Dormouse that unfortunately had passed away earlier that morning.  There were so many beautiful butterflies and the bird life was wonderful too.

Beautiful trees line the path near the Rousdon Cliffs.
Beautiful trees line the path near the Rousdon Cliffs.
Another endless amount of steps to climb in the Undercliffs.
Another endless amount of steps to climb in the Undercliffs.

We were so lucky as it was still very dry underfoot as there hadn’t been much rain over the past week.  This path can be treacherous when wet….very slippery and muddy, so we were thankful of the conditions. 

Steve working out how far we had come and how long we had to go before we reach Lyme Regis.
Steve working out how far we had come and how long we had to go before we reach Lyme Regis.
A welcome sign, we were almost on the home straight!
A welcome sign, we were almost on the home straight!
....but a bit more torture before the end is near!
....but a bit more torture before the end is near!
....and another mountain of steps to climb!
....and another mountain of steps to climb!

The wildflowers were wonderful on this walk….yellow Wort, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Rock-Rose, Yellow Horned Poppy and some beautiful Lilac.

Beautiful wildflowers on the Undercliff Path.  Steve was on a mission....no time to pose for photos!!
Beautiful wildflowers on the Undercliff Path. Steve was on a mission....no time to pose for photos!!
What a wonderful sign!!  Not long now....
What a wonderful sign!! Not long now....

Wow! We were nearly there…..eight miles of difficult, strenuous terrain was coming to an end.  The sense of achievement was massive!  The rain had started now but we didn’t care.  Our delight in the walk we completed (without injury) was enormous and getting a little wet was not a concern.

Walking down into Lyme Regis....wet but extremely satisfied with the Undercliff walk.
Walking down into Lyme Regis....wet but extremely satisfied with the Undercliff walk.
We made it!  Lyme Regis beach in 2 and 1/2 hours.....wonderful!
We made it! Lyme Regis beach in 2 and 1/2 hours.....wonderful!
Jenny (me) back at Seaton in dry clothes and happy with our achievement today.
Jenny (me) back at Seaton in dry clothes and happy with our achievement today.

Kingsclere, Hannington, Sydmonton, Ecchinswell walk.

sheep on the Gallops near Kingsclere, Hampshire.
sheep on the Gallops near Kingsclere, Hampshire.

We woke to a beautiful sunny Sunday morning but extremely cold, around -2 degrees C.  Perfect walking conditions for a long hike with only a breath of wind.  The night before we organised our gear, set the table for breakfast and made a few wholemeal cheese and onion scones to have with our thermos of coffee along the way.  Today’s hike would be a round trip of 20kms (around 12.5 miles) and would start in the lovely village of Kingsclere towards Hannington, Sydmonton through to Ecchinswell and finally back to Kingsclere.

Approacing the Village of Hannington...still freezing!!
Approaching the Village of Hannington...still freezing!!

Walking in freezing sunny conditions, with hardly a breath of wind is a sure way to wake one up early in the morning…..and we started early, just as the sun was coming up and the cold air was at it’s chilliest. 

After walking a continual slope for ten minutes or so, we were as warm as toast and enjoying the peacefulness and breathtaking views on such a still sunny Sunday morning.

The church at Hannington Village, Hampshire.
The church at Hannington Village, Hampshire.

We stopped for coffee just after Hannington seeing only a few dog walkers in the distance.  That went down wonderfully well but we didn’t stop for long as the cold was settling in my body again.

Breathtaking fields near Hannington
Breathtaking fields near Hannington

 We made our way along The Wayfarers path towards the Gallops.  The views towards the Gallops was amazing with large sweeping fields lit up by the clear bright sunshine. 

We crossed the main road at White Hill and noticed a huge number of cars parked along the roadside.  As we continued to walk we could see a number of kites being flown near to Combe Hole.  It was an impressive sight.

Viiews towards the Gallops and Watership Down
Views towards the Gallops and Watership Down

So over the Gallops we go and passed Watership Down and through the magnificent Sydmonton Court Estate, the country home of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.  This leg of the walk is definitely my favourite.  The grounds are beautifully maintained and the trees on the Estate are just magnificent to say the least.

The Gallops, near Kingsclere
The Gallops, near Kingsclere

We also pass by some beautiful Pollo horses at Sydmonton Farm.  They all looked very relaxed feeding on the grass in their well maintained fields.

Through Watership Down approaching the Estate of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Through Watership Down approaching the Estate of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

 By this time we had been walking for around 2 and 3/4 hours so time to have another coffee and try out one of my cheese and onion scones.  Well, they were pretty decent I would have to say and Steve loved them (of course!)  We were off again enjoying the morning and now appreciating the efforts of getting out of a cosy warm bed early to brave the cold!

Steve enjoying a coffee looking towards part of the Sydmonton Court Estate and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's House.
Steve enjoying a coffee looking towards part of the Sydmonton Court Estate and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's House.

We pass a row of lovely country cottages called Laundry Cottages.  Maybe in the past they were housed by workers on the Estate?  They are in an elevated position and the outlook from their front must be beautiful.  So now the walk takes us through Watership Farm and Stables.  We pass quite a lovely pond which is still frozen over……temperatures were still hovering around zero!

Walking towards Laundry Cottages on the Sydmonton Court Estate.
Walking towards Laundry Cottages on the Sydmonton Court Estate.

On to the village of Ecchinswell now and I was starting to feel a little tired now……but we had to keep going!

 Through Ecchinswell and we felt like we were definitely on the home straight now.  We passed over a lovely bridge and stream and the ground seemed a lot softer under foot which meant temperatures were rising.  A little too late for us though.

Crossing the bridge towards Southwood Copse just out of Ecchinswell.
Crossing the bridge towards Southwood Copse just out of Ecchinswell.

The slight slope back to Kingsclere seemed to go on forever and I felt I was dragging my feet a little!  Steve kept the pace up well though.  I think he was thinking “The faster we go, the quicker we’ll finish!!”  We were also thinking about The George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend where we were going to rest our weary feet.  I think perhaps that is more likely why Steve’s pace kept up!

So, it felt like a great achievement walking the 20kms and although I felt a little knackered I knew my fittness was improving and that was an extremely satisfying feeling.

So to The George and Dragon we go for a pint and review our walk and photos…….a great way to spend a Sunday morning that’s for sure.

The George and Dragon was quite busy being Sunday lunchtime and our favourite table by the inglenook fireplace was already taken which wasn’t at all surprising on such a cold day.  We settled for another table….closer to the bar and not as far to walk which pleased Steve very much.  We talked about the walk and looked at all the photos we had taken throughout the morning….hope you enjoy a few that I have included in this post.  Cheers!

A pint of Henry's IPA for Steve and my choice is Aspall Suffolk Cider.
A pint of Henry's IPA for Steve and my choice is Aspall Suffolk Cider.

Great Litchfield Down

My day off today and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it in this country than a walk through the countryside.

The past couple of days of heavy downpours has made the ground very wet and boggy, so today’s long walk was extremely challenging, physically.  My husband Steve planned the route for today and we were up early making sure we had an energy fueled breakfast and packed bananas, granary/wholemeal bread, a little dark chocolate with a small amount of seeds, nuts and dried fruit.  This worked well for us as the estimated time of 4hrs Steve worked out actually turned into 5hrs!  We also had a lovely big thermos of coffee and water bottle……..very organised!!

A sensational walk I have to say.  We started off at the Gallops, walked for 25 minutes until we took a new path to walk through Ashley Warren Down and the footpath along the old Roman Road along Caesars Belt.  From here we made our way to Litchfield and onto the tiny hamlet of Dunley.  This was lovely….beautiful cottages overlooking a peaceful, hedged green.  Wonderfully maintained and a delight to walk by.

From Dunley, the path took us through Lower Woodcott Farm which had a fantastic barn conversion built next to the impressive main farm house.  But the path continued up a constant slope and I was thinking when were we going to have a break from all this hill climbing as I was beginning to feel like a mountain goat!  No relief in sight yet as the walk up to Ladle Hill and the fort ruins was all up hill and it wasn’t until we were past the fort that we noticed our muscles relaxing.  This section was magnificent.  The field by the looks of it had been kept under growth control by a decent flock of hungry sheep but it was so green and looked like it had been mowed by the gardener!  From this height we had a magnificent view of Sydmonton Court Estate, the country house of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Massive chimneys towered over the rooves of this impressive house….it was a fantastic sight from this viewpoint.

So, we were on the home straight from here really but we had one more rather unwelcome climb back up to the Gallops before we could collapse! into the comforts of the car seat!  It was extremely satisfying though as we walked the last leg of our lengthy journey.  Five hours walking up and down slopes was certainly physically challenging.  Our fitness was increasing to a higher level and that feeling was fantastic.  All up, we walked 14.5 miles (about 25 kms) and we still had an hour of dog walking to do when we returned to the estate/cottage!!!  No pint in the George and Dragon today…we had too much to do.

Sunshine at last!!

Set off this morning at 7:30am after a quick breakfast and cup of tea for another long walk.  I made us sandwiches, thermos of coffee and we were off to Kingsclere.  A pretty good start to the New Year ahead, that’s for sure.

BBC weather website is wrong again! and instead of expecting thick fog, we were greeted with a lovely morning…..broken cloud with the sun trying hard to peek through in places.  Walking conditions were pretty good temperature wise with little wind….but quite soft underfoot.  Mud that cakes hiking boots like you weigh an extra tonne isn’t the best but being out in the fresh air was wonderful.

So, from Kingsclere we walked to the outskirts of Hannington towards Malshanger Park.  It was beautiful…..Steve added a detour on another trail we had not yet walked and it was worth the extra distance.  We then made our way towards Kingsclere but this time through some lovely countryside we hadn’t walked for a while.  It seemed we were constantly climbing slopes and not many down hill sections.  No complaints really just pleased to achieved such a great distance for our fitness…. not to mention the enjoyment and health benefits of breathing in all that clean, country air.  In all, we walked about 25kms (that’s about 15.5miles I think)  A little further today but we pulled up very well with no injuries to speak of.  Of course we finished the walk with our traditional pint in “The George and Dragon” pub and after a lovely hot bath to soak our tired muscles we were feeling pretty good.

Having an Italian Beef Casserole this evening with some lovely savoy cabbage.  Think a serve of this in front of the fire will do us the world of good after our efforts today…..and along with a glass of red or two, I think we will sleep very well tonight!

Boxing Day half marathon!

Boxing Day this year for me has been pretty decent.  We woke up to a magnificent sunny morning….still freezing though.  We felt we had to make the most of this sunshine (haven’t seen a lot of it lately!) and decided to go on one of our much loved long walks.  Today, we would start from Kingsclere and walk to Hannington then on the Wayfarers Path to the Gallops then down into Sydmonton, through the Lloyd-Webber Estate then on to Eccinswell and back to Kingsclere.  All up, around 22kms (13-14 miles).

So, although feeling a little seedy from a few! extra drinks yesterday, not to mention all that rich food, Steve set about making us a quick beans on toast and some yummy Christmas ham sandwiches while I washed my hair.  I made us a thermos of coffee, Steve filled the water bottle and we were off around 8:30am and were walking by 8:45am.

The day was stunning…….so sunny with only a breath of wind.  Walking conditions were sensational, although a little slippery in some spots but mostly just crunchy snow.  Didn’t see much wildlife…sheep, two hares, horses, many Robin Redbreast and a large number of other birds fighting to get the last of the berries on the trees.

We stopped for coffee on the highest point of the Gallops where the veiws were magnificent, as per usual.  By this stage, my bit of a hangover had disappeared in the chilly air and I felt amazing.

Three hours into the walk and I was starting to get tired and wanted to find a nice warm spot to curl up and sleep!!  But we were going to finish with a pint in “The George and Dragon” pub so I had to keep soldiering on……….

We were eventually in the last field before we reached Kingsclere.  The feeling we felt was that of achievement and immense satisfaction.  Four hours walking on the icy snow topped landscape was a huge effort, mentally and physically.  Fantastic!  Won’t feel guilty having that pint of Thatchers Cider!