Byways and Brothers at Bentworth (Hampshire) (38921)
For February, a foray into the heart of Hampshire, an area where the distinctive deep downs are divided by swift-flowing streams and where villages cluster in the valleys, some of them not a mile apart, while on either side the undulating uplands stretch away for miles. Many of these villages boast an ancient church and a historic pub amid the handsome houses of brick and cosy cottages of timber frame. A timeless tranquillity touches all, from the tarmac track-ways we'll be taking to the devotions of the monks whose modest abbey we'll be visiting.
Things to look out for on the walk:
Bentworth: An extensive parish with a good number of manor houses. St Mary's Church is predominantly 13th century and the nearby rectory is very elegant. The Sun Inn (our lunch venue) dates from the early 17th century.
Alton Abbey: Located outside of Medstead, a rare example of an Anglican Benedictine community, founded in 1889, located at its site in 1895 and designed in a restrained 13th-Century style. The pleasant grounds and church are open to the public.
Shalden: An attractive hamlet of manor houses and farm cottages. Church of 1865.
Alton: A prosperous market town and dormitory, well-served by frequent trains, independent shops and characterful inns. Much Georgian bulding in the High Street. The site of the source of the River Wey which will be seen on this walk. If we wait for a few minutes before starting the walk we'll see the 10:50 steam locomotive service depart Alton Station on the Mid-Hants Railway.
'Sweet Fanny Adams': Her name and epithet soon became used as a euphemism and as naval slang (for mutton), but the Victorian public were revulsed by the murder and dismemberment of Fanny Adams, aged 8, by solicitors' clerk Frederick Baker on the 24th August 1867. The water meadows where her body parts were found is on the itinerary and if you want to see her grave, you can.
Please see the route here.
A route out of Alton along its most attractive and historic part and then a footpath behind pleasant suburbia will take us to over the A339 to Beech. A short walk along a quiet but windy road will take us to Alton Abbey where we'll see the church. We'll then head out along Wivelrod Road to the hamlet, then across the downs along Tinker's Lane to Bentworth where a brief look at the church and houses will come before our pub lunch.
After lunch we'll take a trackway past Ham Farm to a crossing point on the A339 and a lane (Shalden Lane) to Shalden. Walking through the village, we'll soon be on quiet Southwood Road and then a tiny trackway by the name of Brick Kiln Lane. This will take us back to Alton. Here, a short walk along the B3349 past the source of the River Wey and a walk through the water meadows of 'Sweet Fanny Adams' notoriety will bring us back to the heart of the town and all its amenities.
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & Drink
All 30 of us are booked in at The Sun Inn in Bentworth for 13:00. I'll email about two weeks before the walk to find out what you'd like to eat to get the food order together.
You're welcome to bring sandwiches if you'd prefer.
Pubs are plentiful back in Alton at the end of the walk.
Meeting & Times
Other Useful Information
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If you are late or lost: Please call or text me, Gavin, on 07944 014620.
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