- West Harting Down, 19 May 2021
- Walk Leaders: Sheila & Christine D
- Distance: 10 miles
- Start: Buriton Pond Car Park
During the first days of the pandemic, we were allowed to go out once a day for exercise, so I walked alone. Then later we were allowed to be outside with one other person from another household, so Christine and I went walking together most Wednesdays. We would stay local, take a look at the map and see where the footpaths took us, no time pressures, it was a case of ‘have food and drink, will walk’. This is how we created the 10-mile circuit which we led for the Petersfield Ramblers on Wednesday 19th May.
Twelve of us gathered at Buriton pond, a favourite starting point because it is a lovely patch nestled in the centre of the village by the church and we were greeted by ducks and moorhens, likely expecting some food. Armed with our usual strong boots and rucksacks containing the essential items of food and drink, we set off heading east to join the Milky Way, a track lined with strong-smelling garlic at this time of year, which took us from Buriton up to the South Downs Way and joined a narrow road lined by stunning copper beeches in their Spring plumage. Passing Sunwood Farm, we turned south on to West Harting Down and followed a footpath, then a track, between high trees until we came to a vast amount of felled timber, where we paused for coffee before turning south-west on to the Sussex Border Path. We meandered along a delightful winding path through ancient woodland, enjoying bluebells, primroses, wild garlic, bird song etc, and being careful not to trip over fallen logs and sticks and tree roots.
We eventually came to Harris Lane which took us on to Woodcroft Farm nestled in the valley. Passing through the farm grounds we climbed over a footbridge above the Portsmouth to Waterloo rail line below. We passed through a kissing gate, then took a steep climb to Chalton Peak through a mass of cowslips, causing us to stop and admire them. And also, to turn around and admire the scene behind us of the various greens of the patchwork of fields and crops and woodlands, enhanced by the shadows of the intermittent clouds. A quick walk into the village of Chalton brought us to the Red Lion where we sat on the grass amidst daisies, buttercups, and some lovely little blue flowers (whose name escapes me) and had our lunch.
After eating we headed along the Staunton Way which took us to the edge of Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Behind us was a wonderful view stretching over to the Clanfield Windmill, the sea and the Isle of Wight beyond. We paused inside the Park to advise a couple who were trying to find their way which can be a bit of a challenge because of the myriad of footpaths and tracks. I hope they found their way OK after the pearls of wisdom from maybe too many of us! We passed a stone model of a Roman building. Apparently, there was once a Roman settlement in the area and the plinth is one of the many on the Shipwrights Way which runs from Alice Holt Forest to Portsmouth.
At one point we were almost mown down by some cyclists enjoying the tracks; fortunately, someone spotted them coming and we stepped aside. Why don’t cyclists have bells anymore?
Eventually we emerged from the woodland and walked down to Kiln Lane, then passed the nature reserve of Buriton Chalk Pits. These pits were worked up until the end of WWII and can be explored along a footpath route. Notice boards fill you in on the history of the 14-acre site.
We headed downhill, under the railway line and back to our starting point. A nice little café with tea and cakes would have been nice but alas, not available.