My motive for the blog is to share info and highlight places you may not be aware of, and through photography and maps, show why I Iove this area of North Hampshire so much…
I don’t want to be lamenting about the loss of places and history all of the time, (although thats important!), so this will be more of a photo journey of a round walk from Malshanger I did last summer. (2016). The walk took me about 3 hours, but I didn’t hurry.
I’ll discuss Malshanger House in a future blog, but it’s first recorded mention was in 1086 around the time of Doomsday. Several prominent familes have been connected including William Warham, (1450 – 1532), who became an Archbishop of Canterbury. More recently the Colman family, (of Mustard fame), have owned the house…
My walk starts opposite some pretty cottages which I imagine were originally estate workers dwellings – all very well maintained, with flint decoration.
Passing the Oakley Bowling club and opposite the house entrance, I turned left and followed a signposted footpath across a field to Shear Down Farm. On the opposite side of this I came across a small grass landing strip. No planes here today – being no pilot, I can’t tell if the wind sock position is good, bad or indifferent…
The path carries on through what looks unusual dark flora … I soon smell that its a type of mint. I feel a bit bad walking through this crop, but thats the way the path is taking me, clearly! Turns out to be grown by Summerdown Farms. They make herbal teas, and add their ingredients to toiletries and chocolates… Read more here.
Through a gap in the hedge and the landscape opens up again. I find photography doesn’t always capture the rolling essence of this Hampshire landscape, which is undulating hills. Its subtle, but not flat either, which you’ll know if you walk or cycle it.
The path joins up with a bridleway before exiting at a cross roads.
I’m near Ibworth, but we’re not heading that way today. I love these country signs.
Staying on the road it goes down into a dip and I can’t see much, but its a very peaceful spot. The only house is set back from the road, but you must enjoy your privacy if you choose to live in a place like this.
As the road begins to rise and I take a footpath through a gate on the
left, and I’m in a mix of fen and woodland. Its a bit undefined and overgrown, and contines to rise.
At the edge of the wood, thankfully the path I should take becomes much more defined again!
This is more like it. I’m so pleased the path is maintained, but equally I feel in a spot not
too frequented, and today there is not a soul to be seen…
I decide this is a great spot to stop for lunch… and a bit of shade.
From what I know this landscape was part of the ancient ‘Freemantle Forest’, Where King John enjoyed hunting from his lodge near Kingsclere. The land is much altered by farming methods but a ‘forest’ in Norman times didn’t mean extensive woodlands either.
The paths goes back into ‘Warren Bottom Copse’, which immediately feels old – Signs of ‘coppicing’ have kept the trees small. The path joins the road again but to the right is a
‘Hay Wood’, wherethe sound of bird song adds to its old world charm. This wood has a
mix of Birch and Oak.
After turning right into Whitehill lane, and a gradual rise, I pick up part of the Wayfarers Walk , a 71 Mile trail through mainly Hampshire to the coast. I attempted this stretch once before but didnt get far as it was so muddy. Today is much better. I’m now heading towards Oakley direction. The path skirts the edge of Great Deane Wood which shows some ‘enclosures’ marked on the map – again, I think this relates to times of the forest and hunting.
This golden wheat field was lovely to walk through on a fine summers day… Leaving the Wayfares Walk, then along the road by Summer Down Farm and back into Malshanger Park. Another fine example of an estate building using flint. I assume this was a gatehouse or a Lodge.
There are normally sheep and other livestock to be seen grazing on the estate, but seeing this tree made me chuckle. Its been a good walk, with a couple of medium inclines, but a lot of even paths.