6 & 13 October 2021

  • Octagon Way:  6 & 13 October 2021
  • Walk Leader: Sandy
  • Distance:  11 miles 1st day, 9 miles 2nd day
  • Start: 09:30 at Petersfield Station for taxi pick-up both days

Many months back Petersfield Ramblers decided to walk the Octagon Way but, with so many of us taking hiking holidays through the summer, it was October before we could execute our plans. Nonetheless we struck lucky with the weather for our two-day walk, enjoying perfect autumnal days of warm sunshine and clear blue skies.    

The Octagon Way is an 18-mile circular walk around the Octagon Parish in West Sussex, designed in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Octagon Parish is made up of ten villages, eight of which have charming churches originating from the 12th century. The Walk links the villages, providing fine views down to the south coast across rolling downland.    

We decided to split the 18 miles into two more doable parts. North Marden in the northeast became our starting point for both parts, with Stansted in the southwest being the end point – giving access to Rowlands Castle station for a train journey home. Our plan was to walk anti-clockwise the first day – via Up Marden, Compton and West Marden – and clockwise the second day through East Marden, Stoughton, Walderton and Racton.

So it was that we gathered at Petersfield and Liss stations in cheery mood one sunny October morning, to await our pre-booked transport. Thanks to a good service from A2B taxis, by 10am we were all gathered in North Marden, ready for our adventure – which commenced with a look at North Marden’s tiny, flint church. Despite the charms of all the other Octagon churches that we progressively admired along the way, we all agreed that this first ecclesiastical building was our favourite. It was enchanting for its simplicity – both inside and out – and the unusual rounded east end.   

North Marden’s church

With one church ticked off our list, the walking began in earnest. After a couple of miles over rolling downland we climbed to Up Marden – which comprises solely a lovely 13th century church, tucked away in trees. Stopping in the churchyard for coffee and a peep at St Michael’s, we admired the plain, unrestored interior with its pale hints of wall paintings.

From here we climbed over Telegraph Hill – noting the laden sloe bushes in the hedgerows – to the village of Compton. Before halting for lunch, a visit to the church was in order; largely rebuilt in 1849, we found the more cluttered interior less to our liking. But nothing could dampen our spirits, knowing that Compton Tearooms awaited us! The Tearooms – as ever – provided tasty fare in generous portions, from yummy cakes to packed sandwiches.

Weighed down with food we set off again for the next leg of our expedition, across recently harvested fields and along the edge of West Hanger Wood to little West Marden. Lacking a church, we didn’t stop, instead continuing on for two more miles – passing through conservation woodland to the impressive Stansted House.    

Stansted’s St. Paul’s Chapel

A circuit of the Octagon Way wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Stansted’s St Paul’s Chapel – one of the eight Octagon Parish churches. Not normally open to the public, the Stansted Estate were immediately welcoming when asked if we Ramblers could take a look inside the chapel. Indeed, they not only supplied tea, coffee and biscuits but also a brilliantly informative volunteer guide – Michael Olding. As we rested our weary legs in the pews, Michael provided a fascinating history of the chapel which is believed to have been the banqueting hall for the original manor house that pre-dated Stansted House.

Leaving the Octagon Way, a two mile walk due west away from Stansted took us to Rowlands Castle station and a train home.

Part two of our circuit a week later started in a similar vein to part one: taxis to North Marden. This time we walked away from the village in the opposite direction, once again blessed with sunshine. After a while on a small country road, we turned into a narrow strip of woodland then crossed fields to reach East Marden.

Here we observed St Peter’s early 13th century church: a long rectangle, again built of flint. Inside we found the first of a number of intricate pieces of needlework displayed in the more southerly churches, including a marvellous whirling, colourful applique altar cloth. Of further interest in East Marden was the 200ft thatched well with its unusual square winding wheel, the only source of water until 1924.

East Marden’s thatched well

From East Marden it was on to Stoughton, two miles south, and early lunch at the picturesque Hare and Hounds pub. Refreshed, we sauntered down to St Mary’s church with its rather imposing façade and paths paved with old gravestones. Inside was more remarkable needlecraft: an impressive tree and downland inspired altar cloth; a long tapestry runner illustrating local history; and the most beautifully stitched rainbow, themed on the covid pandemic.  

Altar cloth in St. Mary’s Church

Next stop Walderton (no church) and then on to Racton, involving some single-file road walking. Here our final church did not disappoint. A modest building beside a chocolate-box thatched cottage, the inside excelled with curiosities, from tombs and monuments along the north wall, to the bright stained glass behind the altar, commemorating the fallen of World War 2.    

Racton’s Church of St. Peter

Retracing our steps, we returned to the footpath leading up to Racton Ruin, an 80 foot tall folly built in 1772 by the Earl of Halifax. Levelling out, the shaded path took us on to Stansted, joining up our end points from part one and part two. The Octagon Way had been completed. To celebrate this achievement – and the birthday of one of our members – we ate cake, kindly baked (and carried!) by two of our ladies. It just remained for our tired but contented group to trek back to Rowlands Castle and – for a second time – wait on the platform for 45 minutes for a train home. Yet despite two long days walking a total of 22 miles together, the chatter continued unabated: no one seemed in a hurry to end our fascinating adventure.  

Author: Sandy Arpino

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Hadrian’s Wall

Walking the breadth of the country on the historic Hadrian’s Wall Path

We all learn about the Romans at school: their empire, their advanced ways of living, their great engineering and, of course, Hadrian’s Wall. Many of us take a trip up to Northumberland and visit a section of the famous Wall. A few of us discover the National Trail that follows the entire route of Hadrian’s Wall – across 84 miles – and think: “I’ve got to walk that!”. So, in September, I did just that.

I planned my walk back in January but even so much of the best-located accommodation was already fully booked. In its central sections the Wall is quite remote, so places to stay are very limited. If you’ve a car, staying in a hotel 4 miles off the trail doesn’t sound much at all but, when you’re walking, that’s 4 miles of extra hiking in the evening and another 4 miles the next morning to regain the trail. It adds up. Over 11½ days I actually walked 129 miles in order to complete the defined trail – and have a comfy bed and heartening food each evening! For those prepared to accept more basic accommodation in barns, transporting their own sleeping bags, there are a few more options – but after 10 to 12 miles walking I crave a nice warm shower, hot food and a proper bed to rest my tired body. And I only ever carry a day-pack, so for this adventure I relied on Hadrian’s Haul to move my luggage bag daily between hotels and B&Bs (which they did perfectly).  

Solway Blue

My first surprise was that no wall was visible until my fourth day of walking! It turns out that the most westerly part of the Wall wasn’t built of stone – it was an earth bank with a few stone turrets, all now lost. Whilst this somewhat dented my image of the Wall, following its route from the westerly Bowness-on-Solway through Carlisle and beyond presented an interesting range of very different environments – and easy walking.

The flat, muddy Solway Firth of my first morning – looking north to Scotland and distant wind farms – took on a whole new look in the afternoon when the sun came out and the tide came in.  

Carlisle Cathedral

Then it was on to Carlisle with its imposing red-brick castle and cathedral, the latter softened by the delightful outdoor café space where the first of many ‘coffee and cake’ breaks was greatly appreciated.      

The build-up of anticipation made the sudden appearance of the Wall on day four all the more exciting. It didn’t rise much above knee height – more foundation than wall – but there it was at last. I’d like to say that it was amazing to see real Roman masonry, almost 2,000 years old, but most of the now-visible Wall is a reconstruction. The stones were quarried and shaped by the Romans but what we see today is largely a rebuild from mid-19th century or later.   As English Heritage tells us: “In the years that followed [the Roman’s departure], Hadrian’s Wall became a quarry for the stone to build castles and churches, farms and houses along its line, until the conservation movement in the 18th and 19th centuries put a stop to that. It was only from the mid-19th century onwards that early archaeologists and historians … began to study Hadrian’s Wall in earnest and sought to protect its still magnificent remains.”

First Wall

Next, for two exhilarating days, I traversed the Hadrian’s Wall territory that is so familiar from books and postcards. The Wall rollercoasters with the natural undulations of the scarp slope that it tracks, through lonely moorland, with a 300ft cliff drop to the north. The views are breath-taking – the walking challenging. At times it was gruelling, clambering up boulders on all-fours, not looking down for fear of vertigo, but the 360-degree vistas from the peaks were more than worth the effort. The Wall running through the landscape – cutting the terrain in two – is awesome by today’s standards – how impressive and fearsome must it have seemed to people in Roman times?  You can’t help but wonder at the brilliance of the original construction so long ago.

Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall

Then as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone. The trail dropped to lower altitudes and the walking became more relaxed. After a couple of days of pleasant farmland – with rather too many cow fields to be negotiated without incident! – the Path met the wide River Tyne and followed it right to (aptly named) Wallsend. This entailed traversing 12 miles of Newcastle, from its most western suburbs – where once the vast coalmines were worked – to its extreme eastern suburbs and the remains of Segedunum Roman Fort.

The contrast of modern, urban Newcastle to the rugged, remote landscape of the North Pennines was unmistakeable. Likewise, the difference was tangible between the vast flat expanse of the Solway Firth and the solid structures of Carlisle. It was these variations that kept the Hadrian’s Wall Path interesting from start to finish, giving me the motivation to keep walking day after day. There was always another surprise each day – even if the extent of the actual Hadrian’s Wall remains was rather less than I’d expected.

Miners Sculpture
Newcastle Bridge

Author: Sandy Arpino

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25 September 2021

  • Cheriton, Hinton Ampner, Kilmeston:  25 September 2021
  • Walk Leaders: Gerald & Clare Pilkington
  • Distance:  10 Miles
  • Start: Cheriton by the Green GR: SU 583 284

Having spent a couple of days worrying about road closures on the way to Cheriton, with sore arms and mild aches as a result of the booster and flu jabs we had received the day before, Gerald and I were slightly concerned when the drizzle started as we were driving to our start point.  However, none of the above in any way spoiled what turned out to be a very lovely walk!  We were joined by Sheila, Helen and Johanne, and Amanda Todd, a friend who had seen the walk in the Petersfield Post and came to witness a ramble at first hand. 

We set off through the churchyard and then negotiated a number of stiles in order to make our way through fields of cows, harvested crops and natural beauty, passing several striking properties with amazing views.  Up we went, along footpaths and across fields until we were heading straight for Hinton Ampner, in the heart of the land where the Battle of Cheriton was fought.  (The Battle of Cheriton, in 1644, was a major turning point in the English Civil War and resulted in an important Parliamentarian victory that helped shape the future of England.) 

Interesting signage

We crossed the A272 and walked up the lane to Hinton Ampner, (a National Trust property purchased by Ralph Dutton, 8th Lord Sherborne, in 1935 and rebuilt in 1960 after a devastating fire) where we took advantage of a couple of empty benches that were winking at us, and stopped for coffee.  What better way to enjoy a break than surrounded by beautiful roses and a view that took in a large chunk of Hampshire!

Then down through the Hinton Ampner estate, and along a series of footpaths that took us through more fields but also some wooded areas to Kilmeston, a very pretty little village with thatched and tiled cottages and a delightful village hall.  On we pressed, and eventually the landscape opened up so that we could see on the horizon the part of the South Downs Way for which we were heading.  Across ploughed fields and up a short hill, we reached the path, enjoying a wonderful panoramic view whilst we caught our breath.  A short road walk brought us to The Milbury pub, our lunch stop.  We sat outside on a couple of bench/tables – Gerald and I seemed to have chosen a seesaw, rather than a bench – and ate our lunch with drinks from the pub.

Eggs for sale

Now on the home strait, we continued along lanes, paths and across fields, enjoying enterprising egg boxes, funny signs on gates and a lot of happy chat and fun.  In what seemed like no time at all, we were back in Cheriton.  It hadn’t rained, Gerald and I actually felt much better for the exercise and the A272 was open after all!  But the best bit of all was the company, despite their disputes over our stile count – thank you all, and I hope we will see you again soon!

Author: Clare Pilkington

Photos: Sheila Gadd & Jo Legg

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Days 11, 12 & 13 Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast continues with 4 Fearless Petersfield Ramblers

Day 11:   September 2021 
Back at Reeth we followed through the village, which seemed to be teeming with walkers, and followed along, near the Swale to Marrick Priory. This used to be home to nuns in the 12th century until the inevitable happened in the reign of Henry VIII, it is now converted into an Outdoor Residential Centre.  Leaving the Priory behind us we climbed up and then into the hamlet of Marrick, a gentle sleepy settlement that we soon left behind us.

In the Woods

Climbing up yet again and then down we entered the popular village of Marsk. Here the local family was the Huttons. History tells us that they wouldn’t allow any guest to leave the table until they were too drunk to walk to their bed. We did not see such behaviour as we walked through the settlement!  Across fields and up a sharp escarpment brought us to the Applegarth area. Low Applegarth, High Applegarth, East Applegarth, West Applegarth, you get the picture, the name dominated our walk along a delightful path that afforded us views across the valley. We were puzzled by a red square on the map near East Applegarth, none of us knew what the symbol meant, so at our lunch stop we looked at the OS map legend. It is the mark of a bunkhouse. So we all learnt something.

The Inevitable Ups

A welcome lunch taken before entering the ancient trees of Whitecliffe Wood gave us energy for the last park of this section. Slightly shorter, and certainly easier walking, saw us entering Richmond by 3 o’clock. Therefore, the inevitable cups of tea were drunk at a local cafe before finishing our 11 miles back at our B&B.

Day 12  We set off straight from our B&B through the delightful and historic town of Richmond- well worth a return visit to find out the history and view the sights.
Following our old friend of the River Swale we quickly were out into lush countryside enjoying the sights. Not so lovely was the aroma emanating from the sewage works that we walked past, but it was quickly over as we marvelled over the ruins of Hagg Farm firmly obscured by the fast-growing undergrowth.

Bolton on Swale Church

The hamlet of Colburn proved to be a pretty place, dominated by Colburn Hall. As the path tracked the river evidence of large scale gravel extraction was evident all around. The route went under the A1(M) passing very close to Catterick Racecourse, but. I racing was taking place today. Very quickly the land became rich farmland and with it the useful Coast to Coast signs dwindled dramatically. Navigation was not too difficult as we made good progress on one of our longest walking days but probably one of the easiest. No daunting slopes to climb, no dramatic windswept moors, no devastation from lead mining, just gentle fields with cattle or crops.

Richmond Bridge

Road walking was unavoidable alongside Kilpin Hall, just after Ellerton Bridge, to an enjoyable stretch as traffic raced along at high speed. Thankfully we were soon walking off the road onto pathways that continued across the farmland. On we continued with no surprising views or change of scenery. A stop for lunch in a field provided a welcome break as we then continued on towards the village of Danby Wiske. One field looked impassable as tall maize plants well over head height filled the way ahead. It was a question of head down and plod between the plants until we were through it, not the most pleasant experience.

The Maize Jungle

Arriving in the village, we stopped for the necessary cup of tea, spending a relaxing time talking to other walkers most of whom we have met over the past few days. They are all friendly, welcome a chat and exchange walking tips with each other. So, all in all, not the most exciting day’s walking but enjoyable in the fact that we are very walking fit now and can keep up a fairly good pace.

Day 13:  
The last day of this section of the Coast-to-Coast trek, next installment and the final phase, will be completed in May 2022- seems a long way away at the moment.

Anyway, back to today, 4 happy and relaxed ladies were dropped back in Danby Wiske for the final 9 miles.  Today was very much a repeat of yesterday’s walk taking us past farms and across their fields. What has struck us is how productive the land is, crops have been harvested, fields are being harrowed ready for the next crop and cows chew contentedly in their fields.

So, not much to report except one quirky farm that we passed. First of all, we noticed a large fridge by the side of the path inviting you to purchase snacks from it. It contained drinks, chocolate but also ibuprofen and plasters. Then came the surprise! As the stile was being climbed a rat (fortunately of the plastic kind) started making noises. It was difficult to make out what it was meant to be saying but it continued as the four of us crossed. There also was a witch’s broom, plastic skull and other artefacts nailed to the fence. It raised a smile from all of us.

Nearing the end of our walk we had to cross the dual carriageway of the A19. Cars were hurtling along the carriageway so we waited patiently until there was a break in the traffic. Having negotiated this hazard, we thankfully walked down into the village of Ingleby Cross. There, right by the village green, was a delightful cafe which comfortably finished this stage of the walk.

4 Happy, Intrepid Walkers

Author: Lynne Burge

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Days 9 & 10 Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast continues with 4 Fearless Petersfield Ramblers

Day 9:   September 2021 
The Post-to-Post walk (read on to find out why the change of name for this day!)
It was an easy start this morning, gathering in the centre of Kirby Stephens where we were all staying. A gentle walk over Frank’s Bridge led us into the hamlet of Hartley, a small settlement that saw the start of the long incline up onto the moors. A steady climb took us past several quarries and some fascinating old trees that lined the road. Before we became too comfortable the path led us onto the bleak moors.

Ancient trees along the road

It was then a relentless climb past many sheep folds and false summits to gain our aim of reaching the Nine Standards Rigg. They lie at the watershed of Britain sending waters one way towards the Irish Sea and the other to the North Sea. No one knows the reason they are there, there are several suggestions such as the English were trying to fool the Scots that there was a large encampment, but they remain a mystery. There is evidence that they have been there since at least 1507 and in recent years they have been restored and should last into the future.

Nine Standards Rigg

Just along from this fantastic viewpoint the route splits. Depending upon the season there are three different routes. We took the appropriate one which takes you across barren, wild moorland. It is very boggy in many places and the path is difficult to ascertain. Helpfully a series of wooden posts have been added which guide the walker across the often treacherous moor. Therefore we jokingly called it the Post to Post walk as without the aid of these simple pieces of wood we could easily have lost our way. Walking up in that area of the moor in mist or wet weather would be foolish.

Stunning Views

Eventually we gradually dropped in height, crossing many wet and boggy becks down towards Ravenseat. Some of you who watch the Yorkshire Shepherdess- the farmer on TV who has 9 children- will recognise that this is her home. As we approached it was easy to see that it is a popular spot for tourists with many milling around. We took advantage of the picnic tables to sit and eat our lunch. After the obligatory photograph of the farmhouse, we continued our journey following the beck. The path undulated wildly in places but gradually took us down towards Swaledale and the village of Keld- blink and you would miss it!

The Yorkshire Shepherdess’ Farmhouse

Sinking thankfully onto a picnic table in front of the only pub in the village we enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea as we awaited our lift. 12 more miles accomplished.

Day 10:   September 2021 
Today began cloudy but mild. A pleasant path over the Swale led us higher up towards the moors. This area was rife with lead mines, the first of which could be seen as we climbed steadily upwards. Passing behind Crackpot Hall (so name after pot or cave of the crows, not the inhabitants!) we were led up a delightful valley to Swinner Gill Lead mines. Here the remains of an industry now defunct were evident, buildings lying derelict with stones strewing the path. The thought of how the miners must have walked up from the valley every day in all weathers to work there amazed us.

Lead mine buildings

A sharp climb then led us out onto the moors, but a completely different scenery from those of yesterday. Heather was evident across the land and grouse were raised in that area. Dropping down past more lead mines to a beck led to the inevitable sharp climbs back up again. From here, for several miles, was the destruction of the landscape from mining. Building proliferated, all in poor condition, the land was ravaged and there were large areas where the peat had been dug up to provide power for the smelting process. It is a desolate landscape but a great reminder of the industrial revolution and how many men had to work.

Lead mining

We thankfully descended past all the chaos to Surrender bridge where we ate our lunch. All morning the wind had howled across the moor as we walked, making it difficult to fight against it as it tried to blow us off course. The bridge afforded us some welcome respite before we continued on across gentler terrain on our way into the small village of Reeth which is well worth a visit. Sitting in a local tea shop with a pot of tea we reflected on the 12 miles- the contrast of the moors from yesterday to today, the extensive mining that was evident and the howling wind we had had to cope with.

Author: Lynne Burge

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Days 7 & 8 Coast to Coast

Start of today’s walk

Coast to Coast continues with 4 Fearless Petersfield Ramblers

Day 7:   September 2021 
After three months’ rest, we are on the trail again. Four intrepid walkers from Petersfield, resuming their Coast to Coast walk where they left off in June.

A bright morning greeted us as we were chauffeured to the end of Hayeswater Reservoir to pick up the trail towards Shap. Delightful ancient woodland guided us away from the Lake district and up towards the moors. Rusty muscles sprang into life as we walked along an undulating path aiming for Shap Abbey. The paths were not marked for Coast-to-Coast walkers so maps were consulted, discussions held so that we could make sure we were going the right way.

Shap Abbey loomed into sight and gave us a time to sit, enjoy the view and have a snack. The Abbey was established in the 12th century but was closed in 1540 during the reign of Henry VIII. The ruins are showing their age with a huge crack down one of the walls.

Shap Abbey with visible crack

Suitable refreshed we continued on into Shap which was bypassed in 1970 by the advent of the M6. As we approached the motorway the noise was intrusive and it was not pleasant to walk across the footbridge to reach the other side. We sped away from the incessant noise as fast as we could, the peace resuming when we came across a large quarry. This is now filled with water with a large notice forbidding swimming. To be honest non of us were tempted to swim in such a barren place, if any of us were interested in getting wet we soon had our wish as it started to rain heavily. Wet weather gear safely donned we soon found a dryish spot under some trees where we had lunch. The rain passed over as we headed across the moors with no habitation in sight. Robin Hood’s grave is marked on the map, but the likelihood of it really being his resting place is in grave doubt.

Our greatest difficulty as we crossed the moor was navigation. Several large clumps of trees, clearly marked on the map made finding our route look easy. Except for one major problem. The trees had been cut down.  Thankfully there was still evidence of where they had been so eventually coming across the road we had been walking towards and headed down to Orton. A delightfully green valley led us downhill and the day was made complete as we neared the end of our walk by the sighting of a red squirrel crossing our path. Unfortunately, it was too fast for any of us to photograph.

Thirteen miles completed; a cup of tea awaited us in our B&Bs along with hot showers. Tomorrow is the next section.

Day 8
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast all were ready for the challenges of the day.  Map reading is becoming easier as we recognise how the moor areas are demarcated from the arable land, where the incredibly long and well made stone walls are indicated and which signs to look for as we cross large areas of moorland.

After a walk along a minor road we headed off across fields, always full of sheep, towards Sunbiggin Farm. Here there was a choice of ways depending upon weather conditions. As the sun was high in the sky we opted to tramp across the moors rather than take the road route. The moors are difficult to navigate in bad weather but the sky was clear and we found many signposts to aid us on our way.

A drink stop replenished our energy as we walked along part of the Dales High Way. Along the pathway we met a youngish, ex-army, man walking East to West on the path and aiming to accomplish it is as few days as possible. He informed us that he had walked over 30 miles for two days, and over 20 for another two days. All his kit, including tent, was on his back, he was raising money to help the many young people who were homeless. We were a little concerned as he seemed to be very tired and finding his way difficult. The mothering instinct in us wanted to tell him to pitch camp and have a rest but he – and we – continued on our respective ways.

Then followed seeming miles of stone walls to walk alongside, giving spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The path dropped down steeply into a valley crossing a dismantled railway line and crossing a beck. Time for lunch. Refreshed we set off across the fells to pass Pillow Mounds, large formations known locally as Giants’ Graves, no one knows the real use or origin of them.

Once across Smardale Fell the last leg of the walk started- a gentle walk down towards Kirkby Stephen. It is always slightly uncomfortable walking across a large field full of cows and horses but none took any notice of us. Walking under the Settle to Carlisle railway the path continued across a series of fields. The peace and quiet was disturbed by 2 fighter jets practising flying up and down the valley several times before they flew off to disturb some other settlement. Eventually we were down in the town, off to our trust B&Bs, ready to put our feet up. Another 13 miles accomplished.

Author: Lynne Burge

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Annual Day Out

  • Ramblers Annual Day Out – 15 September 2021
  • Walk Leaders: Alan and Neville
  • Distance: 7½ miles or shorter
  • Start: Coach pick up Petersfield & Liss

We had a fabulous day on a coach trip to Lewes in Sussex for a day of walking and exploring the town. After collecting members from Liss and Petersfield, the coach headed south on the A3 and then the A27 in the direction of Lewes.  Before we got there, the longer walkers were dropped off in the village of Kingston for a 7 ½ mile walk, then the shorter walkers were dropped in Lewes for a 4-mile walk to the east of the town and over the golf course. 

We longer walkers briefly explored the 13th century church of St Pancras, a Grade II listed building in Kingston, before a tough climb to the top of the South Downs, which got us puffing a bit and needing a short rest and drink stop at the top. We then followed the South Downs Way with spectacular views, both inland and towards the sea. Just lovely – who needs to go abroad when we have such wonderful experiences here in the UK?

After descending from the Downs, we walked through the picturesque village of Rodmell and passed the National Trust Monks House, a 16th century weatherboard cottage which was once owned by Virginia Woolf and where she wrote some of her novels. We eventually came to the river Ouse on the flat plain below the hills with cattle and horses grazing, and followed it into Lewes. 

Monk’s House

Arriving in the town and after a short refreshment stop, we did some exploring of this ancient town which is a delight. Lewes was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and boasts a Castle, a Priory, a Wealden Hall known as Anne of Cleves House and many other things to explore. Because of time constraint we didn’t have time to visit all these places, but I made a note to re-visit one day and enjoy all these interesting properties.

Later we all gathered at the bus station where our coach was waiting to ferry us to a Brewers Fayre restaurant on the edge of Newhaven where we all enjoyed a very pleasant meal together.  We headed home, tired but happy, and grateful to our members Alan and Neville who created and orchestrated this wonderful day for us all to enjoy. Thank you.

Author: Sheila Gadd

Photos: Rosemary Field

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11 September 2021

  • Petersfield Ramblers walk with Ride and Stride: 11 September 2021
  • Walk Leader: Christine Tully
  • Distance: 8 -10 miles
  • Start: Beckham Lane CP: GR SU740 238

Ride and Stride takes place on the 2nd Saturday in September, so this year it took place on Sept 11th and in 2022 it will be on Sept 10th.  It is a sponsored fund-raising event organised by Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust (HIHCT), to contribute to the maintenance and repair of historic church buildings.  Many of these buildings are fighting a battle against the ravages of time.  With reducing amounts of public funding available, the task of maintenance and repair often falls on a small group of people, but such people can apply to the Trust for a grant towards the cost.  This helps to preserve an important part of the country’s heritage and supports the ongoing use of churches as centres of worship and community amenities.

Participants in Ride and Stride visit churches in the area, either by cycling or walking, (or even by car or public transport!).  Cycling is most popular as more churches can be visited in one day.  In the Petersfield area, cyclists took part from St Peter’s Petersfield, St Mary’s Buriton and the Petersfield United Reformed Church (URC).  However, several members of St Peter’s are members of Petersfield Ramblers.  Therefore, other members of the club are invited to join us to ramble our usual 8-10 miles, but visiting several churches en-route.

Christine at a rest stop

This year, the ramble, led by Christine Tully, started from Beckham Lane and followed footpaths to Tilmore Road and from there to Steep Church.  Here, we were warmly welcomed by Amanda who provided light refreshments.  We then walked to Ridge Common Lane and then took the footpath which climbed Ridge Hanger.  The most strenuous part of the walk was now over and we then followed lanes and footpaths to Froxfield.  We were again warmly welcomed at St Peter’s High Cross and we ate our lunch sitting on a bench in the churchyard.  Descending via Lythe Hanger, we made our way to Stroud Chapel, and then took the footpaths from Mellstock Farm back to Beckham Lane.  This ended the walk for the ramblers but Christine visited all the churches in Petersfield and enjoyed tea and cake at Petersfield URC, noted for its excellent hospitality on Ride and Stride days.

Spectacular views en-route

Author: Christine Tully

Photos: Rachel Nasif

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21 August 2021

  • From Upham, via Monarch’s Way to Owlesbury:  21 August 2021
  • Walk Leader: Val
  • Distance: 10 Miles
  • Start: 10am in churchyard in front of Church of the Blessed Mary, Church Street, Upham –  GR: SU539 206

The weather forecast early this morning was somewhat contrary, but happily in our favour.  Whist not exactly bathed in sunshine, apart from some half-hearted spits and spots the walk was completed in dry conditions. Perhaps because members were anticipating poor conditions, just a select few of us met at Upham – six in total not counting our canine walker who enthusiastically accompanied us.  Rupert is a six year old golden Labrador with impeccable manners and friendly approach to one and all – two or four legged.    


Our approximately 10 mile route began at the delightful little village of Upham and we set off along the quiet village road, past the church before turning onto Widlers Lane, where one of the cottages is adorned by three unusual spiral brick chimneys, and soon join the Monarch’s Way.  

I’m sure many of us have walked stretches of this long distance route in various parts of the country as it wends its 625 mile long route.  Starting in Worcester it follows King Charles II’s approximate escape route after he was defeated in the Battle of Worcester in 1651. From the Midlands via Bristol and Yeovil to Shoreham its end point is Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex (presumably he boarded a ship for France there?). We follow it in a pretty straight line heading north-west through wide arable fields, eventually reaching our first siting of Owslebury the last bit of walking through pastures passing a tranquil herd of cattle who happily were completely disinterested in us. 

Through the village we continue out into open countryside and a coffee stop overlooking a pretty valley beyond. 

Coffee stop

Joining a lane for a short stretch we pass a house which was formerly the Shearer’s Arms and, on a plaque, high under the eaves the date of 1859 intertwines with a pair of shears.  Another of many indicators of how important sheep farming has been over the centuries on the South Downs.

We strike off east along wide tracks, crossing a busy road eventually entering open broadleaved woodland where we bend around south and continue in and out of the woods.  On the edge of one wide field not yet harvested we sit and have our lunch before pressing on to Whiteflood Farmhouse once more crossing a busy road.  We’re now on the Allan King’s Way for a while.  This way-marked route is new to most of us – a 45mile footpath which runs from Portchester to Winchester via Bishops Waltham and passes by sites such as Portchester Castle, Fort Nelson and Bishops Waltham Palace.  It was created by the Hampshire Area of the Ramblers’ Association as a memorial to the late Allan King a former Publicity Officer who was partly responsible for the formation of a number of Groups in Hampshire.  Perhaps a route Petersfield Ramblers might consider tackling in sections of linear stages in the future.  It takes us up a fairly steep side of the Downs which make us puff, but is well worth the effort passing through swathes of delicate pale blue Harebells and many other wild flowers, turning to admire the view of the valley and slopes opposite before reaching the top at Woodlock’s Down Farm.  

Now we zig-zag our way south, mostly descending until we re-join the Monarch’s Way to re-trace our steps back into the village.

A really enjoyable ramble in typical Hampshire countryside on paths completely new to me and in an unfamiliar area, but one of our group recognises parts of the route and unsurprisingly Petersfield Ramblers have walked this way before!    


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 21 August 2021

18 August 2021

A big thank you to everyone who helped out at yesterday’s event in Flick’s wood. Special thank you to Flick for the lovely surroundings and the special blessing ceremony. We were both very moved by the words of the prayer and of our vows and also by Mike’s reading of the Apache Blessing. Special thank you to Anne for being chief chef for the evening. As usual her well-honed organisation skills were brilliant and we all enjoyed her tasty cooking. And a big thank you to all who came and shared our blessing and who supplied such lovely and varied food. It was a special evening and we feel really “blessed” to have such lovely friends to walk with and to share these events. Thank you finally to the weather for finally making it possible!!

With love

Hilary and Gordon

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 18 August 2021