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  • Carol Duval

Walking the Downs

Updated: May 10, 2019

Elaine left a very handy and accurately written booklet called Octagon Walks outlining with eight walks that we’re working through and loving each one. A plus is that none are too long and they all finish up at a pub.

Walk 1. Walderton to Watergate that takes in a chalk stream that used to power watermills and part of the Monarch’s Way where Charles II escaped to France in 1651.

Unusual events on this walk were: encountering an elderly, well-dressed (in pyjamas and dressing gown) gentleman in distress in the lane outside his home. He knew his name, Peter, and that he had a wife who’d gone out for lunch and he knew someone who lived in the house opposite but he was almost in tears. I stayed with him while Richard knocked on the door of the lady opposite who was thankfully at home and came out to take him home.

A bit further up the field, we met another well-dressed couple out hiking, but this time the gentleman was in a three-piece suit and the lady boasted a hefty string of pearls. Only in England!

We ended up at the Barley Mow pub, home to the excellent cloudy scrumpy!

Walk 2. Stansted Park. Not only a delightful and easy woodland walk but with a very handy farm shop.

A couple of Halloween witches outside Stansted Farm Shop

Walk 3. Stoughton to Pitlands Farm. One of the nicest villages we’ve seen, plus a whole farm and woodlands conservation scheme aiming to protect biodiversity In a clearing we discovered what must only be an ashes burial site. It wasn't clear if the dog was there too. Then to an even better pub at the Hare and Hounds with equally good scrumpy and ale.

Walk 4. Stoughton to Kingley Vale with views of the south coast will have to wait till clearer weather. Mist is great for walking but not for views.

Navigating the hazards of country walks.

Walk 5. Compton to Telegraph Hill. Popular walk with locals, all very friendly. A Bronze Age long barrow, Bevis’s Thumb, ticked the history box.

Autumn as been as lovely as we remembered. If only we weren’t also seeing so many new housing developments carving away at the countryside. So many people in such a fragile environment. It’s a bitter-sweet experience witnessing the country at this tipping point.

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