- Date: 14 June 2023
- Walk Leader: Val Wood
- Distance: 10.5 miles
- Start: 09:15am, Lower Froyle Village Hall CP GR: SU760 440
Rolling Hampshire Countryside
on a Hot Sunny Day
Some 8 ramblers, plus Pickle the dog our honorary canine member, met at Lower Froyle, a charming village about half an hour’s drive north of Petersfield. Because of very high midsummer temperatures we have gathered early to try and avoid walking for too long at the hottest time of the day. In addition, we could always shorten the walk if it became more of a slog than pleasurable. After sorting out some parking issues to the satisfaction of a couple of overzealous residents, we set off suitably prepared as our Australian cousins would say: “Slip, slap, slop” – slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, slop on the sunscreen. AND, of course, with plenty of water.
Our route takes us across the recreation field down a path to Park Lane, then out onto the main village road where we turn right and almost immediately left into Hussey’s Lane past the well maintained village pond. This is a delightful, quiet lane with many attractive period houses, one a former brewery. Soon we leave the metalled lane behind as it peters out to become a bridleway heading uphill and north. Eventually we reach another little used lane for a few yards before turning west along a wooded bridleway know by many locals as the “Sheep Drove” track which crosses Well Lane. At a crossroads we turn north again, first through some woodland, then opening out to a long field overlooking the campus of Lord Wandsworth College. (1)
We walk towards the college, but at a five path crossroads turn west along the substantial by-way Frog Lane which, in the winter can turn into a quagmire, it being a favourite of trial and quad bike riders. Leaving it behind we turn north passing Manor Farm and shortly arrive at the junction of Well hamlet which, of course, has its well in pride of place on a grassy triangle where the lanes cross. Whilst comprising only a few dwellings and agricultural buildings, it has an attractive 15thC pub, The Chequers, which has been a popular drinking/eating establishment for many years. Pressing on northward again we walk through a wild flower meadow before crossing somewhat dry pastures with sheep grazing – relatively rare in this mainly arable farming countryside. Turning left past the hive of industry at Stapely Farm which really is humming with machinery that we deduce is processing quality topsoil, we then cross a road into a section full of cereal crops, fortunately with wide paths cutting through the strong growing plants. Happy to find some shade as we approach the village of Long Sutton, we walk through a recreation field to cross the road onto a shady path that runs adjacent to the road along the boundary of the front of the College. Turning south, after stopping to say hello to a curious donkey, we find a couple of shady spots which are perfect for a welcome lunch break.
Refreshed we continue south and at the familiar five path crossroads turn east, eventually meeting the Lower Froyle to Long Sutton Lane. Turning left on the metalled road we go past one or two houses near a junction, known as the Bumpers, where once there was an isolated pub/ale house, now long demolished. Turning right onto a footpath we once again find ourselves crossing mostly cultivated fields, this time growing broad bean plants (no pods that we could see) which we understand are a nutritious source of protein for livestock and a valuable part of crop rotations. Leaving these behind we walk through a small copse and ascend through a grass meadow eventually meeting a mostly tree lined wide track which leads us past Saintbury Hill Farm and its unused yard and buildings, before dropping down Bambers Lane to the main village road to return to the carpark.
A distinctive walk through varied and attractive rolling countryside, typical of north east Hampshire and following paths largely unfamiliar to Petersfield Ramblers.
Author: Val Wood
Photography: Val Wood & Sandy Arpino
(1) Lord Wandsworth College is named after Baron Sydney Stern, a Liberal MP, who was granted a peerage and took the title of Lord Wandsworth.
When Lord Wandsworth died in 1912 he left a generous bequest to educate the children of agricultural workers; children who had lost one or both parents, through bereavement, and needed the support of a boarding environment.
Lord Wandsworth’s Trustees purchased the site on which the College now stands and the first ‘Foundationers’ arrived in 1922, followed by fee-paying students in 1946.
November 2022 marked 100 years since, Alfred Beckwith (Pupil No 1) walked through the Acorn Gate at LWC and bought Sydney Stern’s amazing Legacy to life. The Foundation remains at the heart of the College today and has had such a positive impact on so many lives, with over 2,500 Foundationers having walked through those same gates during the first 100 years.