Super-Duper Trooper Looper (Hampshire) (38436)
Super-Duper: Our destination is a sublime one with some of the most delightful and distinctive landscape in Hampshire, including 'Little Switzerland' and Ashford Hangers.
Trooper: Our lunch venue is a characterful one, a Victorian inn set apart from the elevated yet enchanting villages of Froxfield and High Cross, and positioned high on the downland plateau. Looper: Our route is a circular one that starts when you alight at Petersfield Railway Station from a fast and frequent train service from the South Coast or London Waterloo.
Some landscape and settlement notes:
Ashford Hangers - Shoulder of Mutton Hill: In his England's Hundred Best Views, Simon Jenkins regards the vista from Shoulder of Mutton Hill as one of nation's finest. He writes: 'In the distance we can see the long ridge of the South Downs floating comfortably across the horizon. To the south the contour softens towards the coast at Portsmouth. But above the village of Steep the hills seem to lose all discipline. The greensand ridges of the Hampshire Downs argue with each other. Escarpments bunch and jostle. Beech woods cling to the slopes in dramatic clumps known as hangers...The area is known from its contours as Little Switzerland, though Little Tuscany might be more appropriate'. Evoked and mythologised by local poet Edward Thomas, we'll see his monument at the viewpoint.
Ashford Hangers - Cobbett's View: The journalist, politician and social reformer William Cobbett described the view from Wheatham Hill in 1822 thus: “... out we came, all in a moment, at the very edge of the hanger! And never, in all my life, was I so surprised and so delighted! I pulled up my horse, and sat and looked; and it was like looking from the top of a castle down into the sea, except that the valley was land and not water.” This was on the 24 November. 195 years and one day later we'll be sharing his delight.
High Cross and Froxfield: Two spacious, scattered flint and chalk villages high up on the plateau behind Stonor Hill and Shoulder of Mutton Hill. At altitudes of 190 to 204 metres above sea level respectively, they are among the highest villages in Hampshire. Both possess fine late-Victorian churches. Froxfield in particular has a pretty village green with thatched cottages and symmetrical late Georgian villas around it.
Please see the route at the Ordnance Survey here.
Setting out unpromisingly from Petersfield Railway Station along a suburban street, we'll soon encounter the A3 but pass under it via the roundabouts that lead to the A272. The pavement along this road will lead us to Stroud, where we'll cross over and take a lane and a track to the foot of Lythe Hanger which we'll ascend steeply but briefly. We'll then be at the crest, most of our ascent done. We'll then proceed west along Ridge Top Lane. Lanes and footpaths will take us in a big loop west, then north then east, passing through Froxfield Green and High Cross. We'll continue east for our lunch stop at The Trooper Inn at about 13:00.
After lunch we'll continue east and then southeast along Old Litten Lane which will take us to the viewpoint at Shoulder of Mutton Hill, where we'll survey the view that inspired poet Edward Thomas, and then, at Wheatham Hill, the view that inspired William Cobbett. We'll then descend through Wheatham Hill's beech woods with further superb views. We'll take lanes and footpaths past Steep Marsh to the second pub stop: The Harrow. It'll be dusk by this point (sunset will be at 16:00), but the Shipwright's Way will speed us into the well-lit suburban streets of Petersfield and its railway station.
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
We are booked in to have a pub lunch at The Trooper Inn. Please see the menu there. I'll email to ask what you'd like to eat two weeks before the walk as the pub would like a pre-order. This will ensure rapid service on the day. The pub charges 10% for service on large parties.
If you'd rather have a packed lunch, that's fine, but finding somewhere nice to sit in the vicinity of the pub could be difficult.
Towards the end of the walk, when we're nearing Petersfield, we'll have a drink at The Harrow Inn, a lovely old pub at Steep Marsh. It is totally unspoilt and uncommercialised (so much so that they don't accept cards).
Meeting & Times
Other Useful Information
To take a place: Log in and click the 'Book Now' button on this page then put the details in your personal diary. If you are unsure, then click the 'Interested button' - this won't hold an event place, but will add the event to your dashboard.
Travel and lifts: Do check your travel arrangements - how will you get there? If you can offer a lift or need one, why not advertise this in the event forum below! NB The anticipated end time shown cannot be guaranteed and if buying pre-timed tickets for return travel you should allow plenty of margin.
Event limits: If the event is full when you register, you will appear on the event 'waiting list'. Places often become available and are filled on a first-registered, first-served basis.
Change of plan? At least a week beforehand please make sure you are able to go. If circumstances have changed please be courteous and un-register quickly! This will free up a space for someone else.
If you can't make it and the last booking date has passed: this may mean someone else loses out, so an apology left below on this event page would be appreciated by those going, and noticed by the leader.
Please try to be on time: Latecomers may be left behind or else upset the event timing and cause others to miss trains home etc. When you arrive please stay with the Event Leader in case we suddenly set off.
If you are late or lost: Please call or text me, Gavin, on 07944 014620.
During the event: It may seem obvious, but please keep with the group. People who go on ahead, or lag behind can cause problems for everyone else! Also, if you feel ill or have a problem do tell the leader straight away; if you need to drop out there may be a place you can wait for a lift, or catch a bus back.
Do mix and mingle: Especially if there are new members please chat with everyone. We are known to be a friendly group!
If it's your first event: Don't worry! Outdoorlads members come from all walks of life and are as varied as our events. You will meet some nice mates and have a great time. The Event Leader will ensure you are made welcome and introduced to others. Do feel free to message the leader and ask to meet beforehand if you wish.
All photos were taken by the leader on his recce of the walk on 05/11/17.
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