Malshanger Biking Meander

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Malshanger Park, Hampshire

A couple of Saturday’s ago gave us one of those glorious early summer evenings, ideal for a cycle. I didn’t go out with the intention of gathering ideas for a post, but the sights I came across, made me want to share my experience, and show you a bit of Northern Hampshire along the way…

As a cycle, I probably only covered 3 or 4 miles here, but you could easily add more miles to your route as North Hampshire has some great cycling country for all abilities and marked cycle routes on the maps. I guess it depends what you look for in a cycle… I sit firmly on the ‘enjoy it’ seat, more than an endurance boot camp, but you can find both around here with the North Wessex Downs.

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The Cycle

I started (and finished), by Oakley Village pond. Should you need them, A pub, Coffee shop and village store 300 yards from here… There are some lovely cottages around the pond, and of more historic importance, is an example of a 18th
Century barn, which looks like its about to get some TLC.

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Oakley Village Pond ©Nigel Smith

2) There was a time when ‘Church Oakley’ and ‘East Oakley’ were in effect 2 villages, clustered around their farms. From the pond, The lane is called Rectory Lane and there are many fine examples of old buildings too see. Opposite The church and old school, I turned right into Station Road. With some old ‘estate’ properties then fields, It still feels like a remote country lane that hasn’t seen much change.

3) After a slight assent, (well I thought so), you can see the old Oakley station on the left. The track is still a main line for trains between The South West and London, but Oakley station closed in 1963.

Cross with care the Andover Road (B3400), into Malshanger Lane. Its a tree lined avenue, and is worth a visit in all the seasons.

The term ‘Hangers‘ although not totally unique to Hampshire, are closely associated with the county’s landscape, especially in the east of the county, near Alton and Selborne. They refer to wooded slopes.

At this stage I wasn’t thinking ‘blog’ so I didn’t photograph! so here’s a fine example I saw  of ‘Malshanger Lane’ by A.J. Trickett

 

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One I did snap was here to prove I was on a bike…

4) As the lane takes sharp turn to the left, There is a picturesque lodge on the corner by the gate into Malshanger Park. (This spot in itself is a good place to start a cycle and there is some off road parking). I wasn’t sure of the access on bike through the park, so I pushed the bike through the grounds.

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© Nigel Smith

5) I never tire of visiting the grounds of Malshanger Park. Often you’ll see sheep grazing –  and they also have a herd of Alpacas…. There are some fine old trees throughout the park and n March and April there is a great display of daffodils. On this occasion, I was fortunate to see a couple of Dear in the trees and a Muntjac roaming. There are glimpses of the house, and there are several properties showing the using flint in their design, leading to the house, including a walled garden, and a tennis court.

6) A Manor at Malshanger was recorded in Doomsday. Though there is nothing left of the original buildings, we have a glimpse of its Tudor past with the octagonal tower that survives next to a later 18th Century house. It was the family home to William Warham (c. 1450 – 22 August 1532), who become an archbishop of Canterbury.  Part of  the house is currently used a retreat and conference centre.

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The octagonal tower © Nigel Smith

 

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© Nigel Smith

7) At the cross roads by the Bowls club, Turn left, and down a gradual slope. You soon see a cluster of beautiful flint decorated cottages around a triangle. You join Hook Lane. At some point I imagine would have been housing provided for estate workers. Now they just have some very fortunate residents! Follow the road left and at the T junction turn left into Summer Down Lane.

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An estate cottage, Malshanger © Nigel Smith

8)  I cycled down Summer Down Lane. I find capturing the essence of this part of Hampshire can appear a bit flat in photos, when there is quite a lot of undulation in the landscape. This evening the light allowed far reaching views.

(9 At the next junction turn right and the road bends around to the left into Ivy Down Lane. It was along here I was close to part of the Wayfarers Walk.

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Part of the Wayfarers Walk © Nigel Smith

10) Less than half a mile, and under a railway bridge, you arrive at the junction of Clarken Green. There is a pub (and Hotel) at the junction. Turn right here on to the B3400. Just take a bit of care care crossing there is a bend from the left direction, which obscures the view a bit.

11) Take the first first road on the left – its a triangle, and then its left at the junction. We are going back towards Oakley. Opposite is one of the Old Estate houses that was part was Oakley Hall. We’re back into Rectory Lane.

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Old Lodge, Oakley © Nigel Smith
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Fields along Rectory Lane © Nigel Smith

12) I took a little detour here to look at Oakley’s Church – St. Leonards.  If not, carry on along Rectory Lane for half a mile, back to the pond.

I walked through the lynch gate and behind the cemetery. (Just be considerate where to leave the bike – its perfectly safe, but it might be in someones way who maybe visiting the cemetery). Its a grade 2 listed medieval church, but altered and rebuilt in the 16th and 19th Centuries. I visited the church in an older blog when the weather was rather different! There is alot of open landscape behind the Church and is a popular spot for walkers and runners!

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St Leonard’s Church, Oakley © Nigel Smith
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St Leonards Church © Nigel Smith.

There you have it – As I said I’m more for stopping and taking in the landscapes, (and maybe resting), but there is a good amount of variety on this route.

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A Holy Hinterland

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Drivers on the A33, have you ever wondered what this is?

The M3 and A33 run close to each other for several miles to Winchester. In between these 2 roads are pockets of history hidden away, which could easily get forgotten about.

One such curiousity I pass on the A33, near Popham, and I have happened to find out a bit more what it is…

On first appearance it looks like a wall to a property, shielding the noise of the traffic, or maybe it is to do with the motorway.  Whilst I had been researching another idea for the blog at a nearby spot, using the phone maps, helped me pin it’s location…

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The curious rectangle… © Google maps

There’s quite a lot that can be said about the A33 road layout here – (going back to when the M3 ended and merged into the A33, before 1985), but for now, I’m drawn towards the grass rectangle marked between the 2 roads. Its marked on current O.S. maps.

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I can’t see any relation to the road or other properties. So my instict was to look at older maps of the same spot. (The National Library of Scotland has a brilliant resouce for peeling back the layers of time…)

So, going back in time we can see a symbol marked for a church on the spot.

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O.S map from circa 1885

By the time we get to a post war O.S. map, its marked as a cemetery, but no church is marked by this stage – intresting…

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But then below, on this 1950’s One-Inch map suggests there is a building, but no name…

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I saw enough to make me want to go on foot and explore the site in a bit more detail. The layby by here, sadly seems a spot for fly-tipping. The track is surfaced, but slowly being covered by a creeping moss. I sense its a place of debauchery from time to time! The track is defined so it looks like I can go on. I have to be honest here and say that earlier in the day curiousity had got the better of me, so I had an idea of what I’m going to find, but its still exciting, if a bit creepy!

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The track slowly turning to moss

So I’m glad its still daylight…  There are iron gates beneath forboding trees. It seems something out of a Hammer Horror film…

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© Nigel Smith
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The gates… © Nigel Smith
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Popham Cemetery © Nigel Smith

So here it is.. Popham Cemetery. There are some ‘recent’ war graves from WW2 in here and scattered some other plots, but that’s only half the story. The maps tell there was a church here at some point, and I want to find out what happened to it…

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looking inside Popham Cemetery © Nigel Smith

Looking back again over the maps… on the 1888 -1913 survey, at last I have a name for the church “St. Catherines”. We have the site, but with no evidence of building now. So what become of it?

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St Catherine’s Church

I really want to see an old photo of what it looked like… I have been able to find several sources that tell me about St. Catherine’s, (or St Katherine’s Church, as older documents refer to it). I also got in touch with Church of England Record Centre in Southwark to see what information they held. It seemed they had similar accounts to what I had found, and parish records, but sadly no photographic evidence they knew of. Still, I have an invite to go up and see the originals, which I may well do!

The Church & The Popham connection

I’ve discovered The Popham family is linked to the fortunes of this church. The first mention of the Popham family can be traced back to the 13th Century to a Gilbert de Popham, (c1195 – 1251). It seems from a time after the Norman Conquest, his family came into possession of an estate tied with lands of Hyde Abbey near Winchester. The De Pophams became known as The Pophams, and their name was associated to the manor.

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The Popham coat of arms (centre) and examples in that can be found at Colyton, Devon & Wellington, Somerset

Already aspiring to law making and governace in Hampshire, Henry Popham (c. 1339 – 1417/18) was Sherif of Hampshire. Later branches of the Popham family began to hold other estates in Berkshire, Somerset and Devon. Some of these decendents were to become influential figures in British politics and courts, such as Sir John Popham (c. 1531-1607) the Lord chief Justice & Edward Popham (1610–1651).

One plausable naming of the church could be attributed to a Medieval interest there was in saints and pilgrimage. ‘The cult of St Catherine‘ gained popularity specially in Northern European countries during the 13th & 14 centuries, with a fascination of her life and Martyrdom. In fact, St. Catherine’s Hill, near Winchester was named after her, and was a popular place of pilgrimage – some 15 miles from Popham. There are other parallels from research I’ve carried out that suggest to me, The wider Popham Family held St. Catherine, (or Katherine) in high esteem. John Popham (c. 1395 – c. 1463), Treasurer to Henry VI, rebuilt St. Sepulchre Church, on Newgate Street, London around 1450, and the church had been know as ‘fraternity of St. Catherine‘. A later John Popham (1603-1637), was a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. St Catherine is it’s patron saint, and their chapel is named after her. Popham himself gave a large donation towards the installation of the screen. In fact the family crest was there, but the Chapel was remodelled again in the 1857. However, some of the glass work survives and can be seen.

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(You can read more of The Pophams history in these articles here and  here.)
George Popham (1550–1608) left Somerset to establish a Colony that would bear his name in Maine, North America. (For more Interest in the Popham colony see here.)

An Older Church…

The M3 divides them now, but the Church and the Manor were once more accessable to each other, and from the documents I’ve seen say there was an older church. The original church is referenced in The National Gazetter (1868) as ‘ajoining the Earl of Popham’s Mansion’. The British History Online site says the old church ‘stood at the back of the manor farm’, saying very little survived and talks of the new church… 

Old maps seem to back this up. (Taylors – 1751, below), whilst not the most accurate representation, implies that a church was closer to the manor and the example clearly sets it away from the main road… Milnes map 40 years later, also shows a church ajoining a house, not by the road.

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Taylors map 1751
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Milnes map 1791

Having walked around Popham, The court has its wall around it (which looks easily several hundred years old), and does it’s job stopping any viewing so I’m none the wiser in suggesting the old church’s location…

I’ve really been hoping to find some evidence of the old church – something physical to make a connection, so you can imagine my delight in finding the font from the original church now resides in St. Micheal’s North Waltham! As its stands, this is the only surving artifact known of… (some tiles were mentioned as being used in the ‘new church’ but alas no more).

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The15th Century font from St. Catherines © Richard Tanner

Its that Man again… A new church

 

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This 1894 map clearly shows some detail  © Ordanance Survey

The O.S. maps I started with, (from late 19th Century onwards), show the church sited by the Winchester Road. It had a chancel and nave and a belfry for one bell. And its here a name pops up I’ve heard of before – by the 19th Century, Popham Court was in possession the of Lord Ashburton. It seems that by 1875 the old church in some state of disrepair, so Baring  financed the building of a new church. BHO describes it : “The church of St. Catharine is a building of flint with stone dressings, erected in 1879, in a modern Gothic style, at a cost of £2,500, defrayed by Lord Ashburton”. Like before, it may have also been a convienent reason to move the site away from his residence. I now know there are several other Churches rebuilt as projects by Lord Baring in villages ajoining his lands such as nearby Woodmancott. He certainly seemed happy to finance these projects.

A vicarage & final years

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Site of the old vicarage in relation to church
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Possibly the old gates?

The ‘new’ church was to survive less than 100 years. The main problem always for a church here was a small population it relied on. With its restraints it shared a vicarage with Woodmancott. Not easy to picture, again, the Motorway has cut through older lanes though I tried to join the pieces…

Whilst in the local library, still hoping to find a photo, I did find a couple of articles from the Basingstoke Gazette, written by local Journalist and historian Arthur Attwood. He speaks of passing the church on journeys he made, and he felt it ‘looked comparatively new.’ He also thinks the reason the church closed, was due to structural damage from nearby bombs dropped in World War 2, (maybe jettisoned after a raid?), but by around 1950, the church had been pulled down.

In 65 years or so, traces of a church have all but gone… The Cemetery is maintained, but closed and nature is taking over the roads. Its amazing how easily we loose our links to history. What was once connected to Popham Court may well have been more of architectural interest, whilst its replacement not in exisitance long enough to be historical value. But I’m still on that quest for that photo… and will add it here if I find one!

Snowkley

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Looking South from St Leonards Church © Nigel Smith

A trip out, with the rare experience of snow visiting North Hampshire…

Oakley doesn’t need snow to look pretty, but I took the oportunity to get out for a walk between the blizzard conditions we had Thursday and Friday this week, (March 1-2 2018). It was the first day of Spring, but winter wasn’t quite done with us yet…

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Village Pond, Oakley © Nigel Smith

The village centre is a conservation area. Popular with walkers and cyclists, one can find a pub and a coffee shop less than half a mile a way for refreshment. Could have done with a coffee today!

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18th Century Barn, next to East Oakley House © Nigel Smith

Further up Rectory Lane is the Church. There was a time when ‘Church Oakley’ and ‘East Oakley’ were in effect 2 villages, clustered around their farms.

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The 2 Oakley’s – circa 1890’s © Ordance Survey

 

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St. Leonards Church, Oakley © Nigel Smith
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The old village post office, Oakley © Nigel Smith

Over the East Oakley side, there are some great walks and old woodlands to explore. There has been a lot of history on Battledown, from an ancient route called the Harrow Way, a Roman Road disecting it, and the possible site of a battle between Saxons and the Danes.

 

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Edge of Wells Copse © Nigel Smith
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Wells Copse © Nigel Smith
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Wells Copse © Nigel Smith

 

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Closer to home!  © Nigel Smith

 

A30 Tales – Tower Hill

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The old and new ways of travel – Milestone on The A30, and The M3 beyond © Nigel Smith

This article could have been called ‘A Tale of 2 Junctions, and a half’ as it’s really a companion piece to my earlier blog on the M3.

When the first stage of the M3 Motorway was built, Junctions 7 and 8 arrived, changing the function and access to the existing routes The A30 and the A33. I looked at Dummer, North Waltham and Popham, villages effected along the A30.

Dummer, in Hampshire, U.K. has several roads serving it, most going under or over the motorway now. There is one road that now comes to an abrupt halt at the M3 motorway.
When the motorway arrived a new road was built, close The Sun Inn, which went underneath the motorway.

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Up to date A30 © Ordnance Survey

What the new map doesn’t show so clearly is the lane carrying on across the A30. It took a couple of passing glances to realise this was an original route to Dummer, which the old maps confirmed.

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Pre motorway, the old lane to Dummer in the 1960’s © Ordnance Survey

So I undertook this photo essay to try to follow the route where I could. Starting from the crossroads at The A30, the lane comes from North Waltham and was called ‘Maidenthorne Lane’.

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Junction for North Waltham © Nigel Smith
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Not to be confused with the lesser known landmark in London… © Nigel Smith

At the juction is the Tower Hill  Guest house, (which looks quite spacious and set back). Looking at the maps, the name relates to Tower Hill Farm over in Dummer.

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© Nigel Smith

There are a couple more properties on the left hand side, and though the original course comes to end, a new track winds round to the side.

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© Nigel Smith

After this point I couldn’t see any more properties marked on old maps, until Dummer. This may have been a deciding factor in it being decided to close it off, and a new road built to navigate the motorway. The M3 was opened in 1971.

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A quick glance back  down the lane to the A30…© Nigel Smith

The missing route to Dummer

We need to go a visit the other end of the lane to see where it came out into Dummer…

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© Google Maps showing the new road to Dummer
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The bit in pink shows the surviving part of the lane

On Google Maps, through a field now farmed, there looks like maybe faint markings  where the original lane travelled. It’s been less than 50 years since a road was here!

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© Nigel Smith

Above You can see the lane snaking from North Waltham in the distance. The junction by the guest house is in the dip, and the motorway is obscured from view. I think where I’m standing would have been on it’s course.

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The point where the lane joined? © Nigel Smith

As I’m at Dummer, it’ll be rude no to visit. On the left there is a newish sign for ‘Tower Hill’. I guess these cottages use this in their address (and not ‘Up Lane’ which the new road is called). This in my mind helps joins up the two ends of the lane nicely, but I can’t confirm it yet.

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Tower Hill is still on the sign post…

If anyone from Dummer or has connections has any information, I’d love to hear more. What did the missing lane look like? If anyone has evidence of the lost part from memory or even a photo where the lane is now lost, that would be great to see!

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Tower Hill Farmhouse in Dummer on the right © Nigel Smith

I also would like to know more why the Farm was called ‘Tower Hill’ if anyone can shed some light the local history?

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The back of Tower Hill Farm, a listed barn © Nigel Smith

Typical Winter in Old Hampshire

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Trenchard’s Lane this morning towards Dummer © Nigel Smith

My Canadian cousins and American friends are used to real cold weather, which lets face it we don’t seem to get here these days. But if the weather reports are to be believed, winter seems to be making a comeback to our shores for the next week or so… I stopped to take this photo on the way to work this morning, by my current favourite tree.

See it before it goes…

This spring, why not take a stroll around Worting Wood, part of Manydown? –  It’s a surprisingly rewarding walk but on borrowed time for the coming development.

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Manydown  – These fields are to be built on

It’s been reported in the last couple of weeks that the popular ‘Manydown Family Fun’ park is not to re-open. A shame for many, (and us, with a little boy who loves it), but not a real surprise as we are resigned to the Manydown development.

Ok, so Its not going to be built overnight, but I would really urge locals to venture out one weekend to walk around Worting Wood on Manydown sooner than later… I’m always surprised how many people don’t really know of its existence, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the walk and the views it offers. When we lived in Winklebury, it was a great gateway into the countryside. I remember some great summer evening strolls, and we have gone back at weekends since.

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Tranquility at Worting Wood Farm ©Nigel Smith

Thankfully, according to the plans, The area from Wooton and Worting Wood are now going to be kept as a ‘country park’, which is the right thing, but I think it will act as more of a buffer for the village of Wootton St Lawrence. The views to the south will be housing estates.

I’m afraid my own photo’s of the wooded parts don’t do it justice, so I found these examples to show the variety.  The seasons have their own qualities and some of the trees are very old.

 

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Worting Wood © Logomachy
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© Graham Horn 

 

 

Paths to explore…

There are several rights of way and bridleways to choose – the below map shows some of the options. From the Worting Village side, some of the paths can get quite muddy after rainful, so good shoes would be advisable. But the more north, the better the tracks.

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Worting Wood detail, Explorer Map 144 © Ordnance Survey
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Winklebury in the distance from the woods © Nigel Smith
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© Nigel Smith

I hope to make a film of the landscape at some point this year, which I’ll add here. If you’d like to know more about some of the History of Manydown, you can read my earlier blog here. We’re getting more detail to the development. Lets hope they are sympathetic. The fact is we are to loose some of this area’s richness, which always brings rewards for those who dare to venture…