A Stroll Around Church Copse

Usually at this time of year we are away in the caravan exploring the countryside.  However, with the current Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting sensible restrictions on travel and the “lock down” of people we have had to put any thoughts of caravanning to the back of our minds.  The most important thing is to stay safe.

Today’s walk is a short loop we regularly do with our older dog Dexter, he is almost twelve and his arthritic joints mean he is limited to how far he can go.

Starting the walk from the Silver Plough car park we turn left and then immediately left along The Green.  After 100 metres we ignore a footpath on the right and continue along the lane for a further 160 metres to reach a second footpath on the right we turn here to head uphill and leave Pitton.  

The path heads steadily uphill, the short sharp ascent has been made easier in recent years by the addition of sections of steps.  When I was a nipper these downs where grazed by sheep and there was a stile at the top (now replaced by a kissing gate) where you could get a panoramic view of the village.  These days the shrub has grown, but there is still a view back towards Piccadilly clump, a small copse on the downs between Pitton and Firs Road.

I have recently be re-reading Ralph Whitlock’s book “A Victorian Village”, Ralph was born in Pitton and the book provides an interesting insight into past village life.  Ralph suggests that Piccadilly clump was so named by the Earl of Holland, who in around 1776 purchased huge swathes of neighbouring West Winterslow where he planned to build a country estate. But after his new mansion was twice destroyed by fire he settled on establishing his countryseat on land he owned in another location, then on the outskirts of London, which is now the area known as Holland Park in the West End of London.

After going through a kissing gate at the top of the hill we continue past paddocks and through two more gates to follow the footpath besides a plantation. 

The path then becomes hedge lined and leads into Church Copse. We follow the clear way marked path leading through a recently planted plantation.

before entering trees to head downhill to join a forestry track. Here we turn right and follow it for 250 metres to a six-way junction of footpaths.

We now take the footpath on the right that runs along the edge of the field besides mature trees.  After 450 metres the way-marked path enters the woodland and then emerges into a clearing besides a new plantation.  

We keep on the path to go through a disused pit and then into an arable field. The path reaches a stile; we enter another arable field and cross diagonally. 

As a youngster I had a weekend job working on this farm, which mainly involved feeding and mucking out pigs.  As time went on tractor work in the fields was the highlight of the weekend.  I can still recall the excitement of being told to go and plough the field we are now crossing.  

It is the only field I ever ploughed, I am not sure if that was because of the quality of my ploughing, or the lure from a local garage to “work the pumps” at a slightly better pay rate and warmer working conditions.  My mother went from complaining about the smell of pig muck on my clothes to moaning about the smell of petrol!

After crossing the field we reach another stile and continue along a path with a hedge to the left and on entering another field continue with the hedge now on the right.

The path becomes hedge lined and leads towards the riding stables.  We turn right and go along the track for 200 metres to reach a crossing of paths here we turn left and go through the gate to take the path back to the village and the starting point at the Silver Plough.

This walk is just short of three miles; just about the limit of Dexter’s walking these days.

You can view this 2.8 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map 131 – Romsey, Andover & Test Valley.

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)

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