Friday, 22 December 2017

Another local patch

Last weekend I was at my boyfriend's in Winchester, and with a slightly murky and drizzly weekend ahead of us, we weren't that inspired for choices of walks. However, a quick peruse of the map yielded some interesting exploration of his local patch, which he'd never walked around.

The first walk from his house took us through the scenic delights of a housing estate and the Sainsbury's carpark, before crossing the main road on an elevated footbridge - suddenly we were out in the countryside. It's always amazing how quickly in some places one can do that.

We walked along ancient boundary hedges, the tufts of the year's wild clematis festooning the fences, beside remnants of chalk grassland grazed by British White cattle owned by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, and along old droves along a ridge top. We descended steeply, with gnarly old yews marking the way, as they have done for centuries. Very tranquil and seldom walked, and definitely a route to do again in the future (the Sainsbury's carpark is actually a very handy point on the route!).

The second walk on Sunday was a bit of a race against time before the rain moved in. We walked a loop from Kings Worthy, skirting wild wet woodland, streams and wetlands in the Itchen Valley, walking underneath the M3 and across the A34, through the picturesque villages of Easton and Martyr Worthy, and again encountering more British White cattle - the Wildlife Trust are busy making contacts with landowners to restore these fragments of rare wetland and chalk downland habitats. Alas, the rain came just as we started our route back, but despite this, it was a great loop through some less well-travelled bits of the valley. Sometimes it's really worth looking at the map to discover these hidden treasures.

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