In a weeks time I will be on my walk along the South Downs Way and I am still fussing about trying to get the correct balance between the items I want to take and the weight I am willing to carry. After walking sixteen-miles last week with a fully laden rucksack I had a bit of a re-think and now feel more confident that I have what I need but no excess baggage.
The only way to really test my theory is to go for a good walk and see how the rucksack feels. I start my walk from the village of Pitton by walking along The Green, which is the lane that runs alongside the Silver Plough pub. I take the second footpath on the right to head uphill and leave Pitton. After going through a kissing gate at the top of the hill I continue past paddocks and through two more gates to follow the footpath into Church Copse.
When the footpath joins a forestry track I turn right and follow it to a six-way junction of footpaths. Here I turn left and follow the forestry track passing a metal gate and then continuing straight on along the track ignoring footpaths to the right and left.
After passing a metal barrier the track becomes a path and skirts a house, The Shooting Box, to join Livery Road, here I turn left and then within fifty yards take a right along the footpath heading uphill on a farm track. At the top of the hill I meet a crossing of paths, but continue straight on along the track heading towards Bentley Wood.
I follow the path as it leaves the track crossing an arable field to enter Bentley Wood and go through Three Sisters Copse. I frequently walk in this section of stunning woodland.
There is a network of paths and tracks within Bentley Wood, but my route is a straight line through Three Sisters Copse and then on towards West Dean Road.
I cross the lane and enter woodland on the opposite side and follow the way-markers through the trees to reach an arable field where the path heads diagonally to the top corner and into a field that is part of the grounds of Norman Court.
Up until recently Norman Court was a public prep school and is now the base for a Community Interest Company running education and other events. Apparently the location derives its name from Roger Norman who owned the estate in the 14thcentury. The old manor house was demolished around 1752 with a new one built and then extended over the years.
In 1906 Washington Singer, of Singer sewing machines fame, purchased the estate and it passed to his son Grant Singer who was killed in action during World War II at the second battle of El Alamein in 1942. His widow sold the estate in 1952 when it became a school.
The footpath signs lead through the grounds to the entrance driveway, which I follow until the path leads along a driveway to Norman Court Stud, there is a gate across the driveway but access to the path is to the right of the gate. Following the path I pass Norman Court Stud and a tree stump with an impressive carving of a cockerel.
I continue along the driveway to head into West Tytherley and on reaching a road, North Lane, I turn right and then take the next a left to head up Chalk Pit Lane.
This lane heads steadily uphill to pass the old chalk pit. I stop at a memorial bench on the right to have some lunch and admire the views towards Dean Hill.
I keep with the lane as it sweeps to the left to pass a cottage and then continue along the footpath as it heads into trees. On reaching Stony Batter Lane I turn left and follow the road to a T-junction where I head straight across to follow a footpath.
I stay on this path to cross the route of the Clarendon Way footpath, there are cracking views to my left.
As I approach the top of the hill I pass the entrance to Broughton Down Nature Reserve. This sixty-acre site is maintained by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Soon I start to get views over the Test Valley.
At a junction of paths I take the footpath on the left heading along a hedged track.
This leads to a minor road where I turn left, keeping my eye out for a trig point tucked inside the hedge. It is hiding away but eventually I spot it, this is the ninety-fifth I have bagged.
The views out to my right are stunning.
Continuing along the road I see Tilshead Caravans down below on the right. Our last two Coachman caravans have come from this dealer, this time last year I popped up to get some accessories on their open day and came away having purchased a new van!
On reaching a bend in the road to the left I take a footpath leading down a track to the right. A couple of hundred yards along I take a footpath on the left crossing fields towards Ashley’s Copse.
The footpath enters the edge of Ashley’s Copse and continues besides the trees to pass Howe Copse and reach the driveway to Ramshill House. Here the path divides and I take the right fork to head besides arable fields to reach the outskirts of Middle Winterslow where I cross a road to join a fenced path going between houses. On reaching the unmade lane I turn right and continue along this track. Where the track divides I take a footpath through a kissing gate to cross a field of pasture.
Through another kissing gate I cross the track to take a footpath between houses on an estate and follow this downhill to reach a road where I turn right and then quickly left to follow a tarmac path behind houses and then the village hall. This leads through the village to emerge close to the Lord Nelson pub. I turn left and then diagonally cross the playing field, go through a kissing gate and then walk on the clear path through arable fields to reach All Saints Church.
At the church I have joined the route of the Clarendon Way and follow this across the road, crossing with care because it is on the brow of a hill. I then follow the Clarendon Way back into Pitton and my starting point.
My walk on a warm afternoon has covered 14 miles. I appear to have got the loading right on my rucksack so feel confident that I will be able to carry my kit along the South Downs Way next week.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map 131 – Romsey, Andover & Test Valley.
11th September 2018
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2018)