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.
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.
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.’
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!!
Well, turning 50 years of age is a big event in my book, but my husband Steve took it all in his stride and as far as he was concerned, it was just another Birthday! He may be carrying more weight than he would like but I have to say he is looking pretty good for the big old 50! He walks miles each day and loves the outdoors just as I do. He loves a healthy diet and I recon the only thing he overindulges in, at times! is his favourite beverage of a good, well kept real ale!!
It was a lovely day, starting with a walk then breakfast/brunch of leek scrambled eggs on my homemade wholemeal toast. I’m not in the practice of making Birthday cakes, but this was a special occasion which warranted a little cake of some description (whether Steve liked it or not!) So, I made a little chocolate cake the morning of his Birthday and covered it in peppermint chocolate and m&ms. There was a knock at the door as this cake baking was going on and there appeared lovely Sarah from next door, with a CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE for lucky Steve!!!! Wow!
In my own 44 years on this earth, I don’t think I’ve ever had two Birthday cakes made for me……it must have been Steve’s lucky day. Just as well we had room in the freezer!
So we had drinks in our local pub beer garden in the wonderful early evening sunshine, then the cab we booked took us to the George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend for some lovely Aussie wine along with a good steak and ale pie. Paula brought an individual treacle sponge pudding with a candle burning in it to the table after our meal and we sang Happy Birthday which finished off a top day.
So, my husband is now 50 years old and I have now spent 22 Birthdays with him and look forward to many more to come. He is my best friend forever.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
Sunday lunch is always a treat at The George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend.
It is especially good when Paula has Roast Leg of Lamb on the menu. The sensational waft of lamb cooking as you enter the pub is truly mouth watering (my favourite roast meat, if that isn’t already obvious!)
If your lucky enough, (or smart enough to book as my husband did) the table by the fire is unbeatable, especially on an icy cold day as this was.
We settle very well in front of the roaring fire and after a pint of real ale (my husband chose Henry’s IPA) and a Thatchers Cider for me, we order our meal at the bar.
Our meals come swiftly to the table and we are not disappointed. Quite a huge serve of tender, succulent lamb is accompanied by a large roast potato, Yorkshire pudding and beautifully cooked broccoli, carrots and peas, along with a perfect amount of gravy and a side dish of mint sauce. Pretty damn good, and the Australian Shiraz Cabernet turned it into a feast for lamb loving me! Priced at £9.99, it’s extremely good grub for the price.
The other Roast of the day was Loin of Pork. Other specials were listed on another menu board along with some yummy desserts and the full menu was also on offer.
It’s always hard to leave this place….just as well it isn’t open all day as we would certainly be tempted to linger a little longer!
One of my favourite, relaxing, most enjoyable pastimes….. to kill an hour in the early evening, is sitting with my husband at the round table by the amazing, blazing fire at the George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend.
It’s a five minute drive or so from our place and never disappoints. I occasionally drag my husband there at lunchtime on my day off for a pint and a serve of their lovely pork pate. We find it hard leaving that table when it’s bitter and cold outside!
It is a very well run country pub and as the owners have been there for 25yrs now, they take great pride in the running of the place. My husband is a huge fan of real ale! and will be delighted to tell anyone that Lionel tends his cellar of ales to the highest standards. “This is very good”, “top class” is often heard from his lips (when the pint glass isn’t touching that part of his face!)
Christmas is looking magnificent here already with Lionel’s talented wife Paula decorating the characterful pub with her touch of Christmas. She has a lot of class and does a brilliant job at running this pub with Lionel.
Even though we are in the depths of bitter, winter conditions now, I must mention this pub in the summer is also a real gem. They have a huge, magnificent green outlook from numerous tables facing a beautiful old willow tree. In the spring, this is under planted with a huge display of daffodils. Also, plenty of parking and very dog friendly. We are off there for a bite to eat on Friday night, perhaps a bottle of a lovely Australian red wine along with a great steak from Wyatt’s Butchers Wolverton Park…..Magnificent! Hope no one has booked the round table by the fire! Will keep you posted!