Celia and Miguel led us from Sheepwash Lane in Lavant up to the lower slopes of the Trundle in glorious sunshine. We went via Chalkpit Lane with shrubs still to be identified and also a very nice juniper bush carrying plenty of ripe berries. Coffee break was the car park below the Trundle with marvellous views as far as Bognor, Chicester and the Isle of Wight and perhaps a glimpse of the legendary Nab tower, marking the Eastern entrance to the Solent. We then headed over Hayes Down to join the West Sussex Literary Trail to take us back to Sheepwash Lane, although there was no water to wash sheep in the completely dry River Lavant. Lunch was taken back in The Royal Oak in Midhurst.
Isabel's walk started in the village of Warnford and with several buzzards and kites wheeling above, we headed up Wheeley Down, passing some incredible sculptures on the way. We stopped for a break on Beacon Hill, with great views over the Meon Valley. We had a whole day of sunshine and a temperature just right for walking. We spent some time admiring the view up on Beacon Hill, where we could see the Isle of Wight, Southampton oil refinery as well as the forts above Portsmouth. After descending via the South Downs Way we reached Corhampton. The Saxon Corhampton Church is one of the oldest churches in Britain and was built in 1020 AD, using local flints and surprisingly stone which came from the Isle of Wight. This stone was almost certainly shipped to Droxford, a mile south, using the then navigable River Meon. The Meon Valley was highly productive with flour and other produce being shipped south to Southampton and Portsmouth. The church is also home to some very old decorations dating back to around 1150 AD and represent scenes from the life of St Swithun, who died 300 years earlier. We had lunch in the excellent Bucks Head before heading on the route of the Meonstoke Valley Railway, which used to run from Alton to Fareham. Use as a passenger line ceased in 1955 and the final goods service was in 1968. It was designed as a single track line with twin tracks at stations. It now makes an excellent walking route and took us back to Warnford. The walk was just over 7.1/2 miles
The forecast for Paul's walk was for showers and some quite strong winds. For once it was about right but the rain was not too bad after all. We arrived at the car park on top of Cocking Hill either by car or the very convenient No 60 bus and then headed east on the Southdowns Way to the top of Heyshott Down. We saw some strangely marked sheep near the top (possibly Barbados Blackbelly sheep- if so, they were a long way from home) before turning south through Charlton Forest. A diversion took us to the Singleton oil well site with 4 nodding donkeys pumping oil at around 500 barrels a day. It seemed a nice spot for a coffee stop and to check out the topsoil. The path then took us to Burntoak Gate and then on to Levin Down where we received the full southerly wind and some rain, the remains of Storm Ali. We were soon in Singleton village where we could shelter at the bus stop, but by that time the rain had stopped. Lunch in the Royal Oak was very enjoyable.
Marian, Jane and Tim led this walk to London Town. We had a few misgivings about the weather but apart from one damp walk, we avoided the rain. Catching trains at Liss, Liphook and Haslemere, we all managed to arrive in Waterloo together and then caught a bus to Borough Market. Fascinating food market with lots of samples along the way - some people couldn't resist buying oils, cheese and even a dish of exotic wild mushrooms on toast. We had a damp walk along the Thames to a bus stop beyond Tower Bridge and then a ride on the top deck to Greenwich. Greenwich was our lunch stop in Café Rouge where many enjoyed a late lunch. Starting from St Mary's Gate we went south in Greenwich Park until we reached Queen Caroline's bath. She was unhappily married to George IV and when she died he had her house in Greenwich demolished. All that remained was her bath, recently excavated. It was an arranged marriage which solved his financial problems but gave him a supposedly malodourous wife. In any case he was already "married" to Maria Fitzherbert. She was a commoner, six years his elder, twice widowed, and a Roman Catholic. Our next stop was at the Royal Observatory where we enjoyed incredible views and a chance to stand on the Meridian line and be in the East and the West at the same time. Walking away from the observatory we came across many rose-ringed parakeets feeding on beech nuts. They are competing with bats and native birds and are not really welcome. On the bright side, sparrowhawks, falcons and hobbies find them quite tasty. Natural England has added feral parakeets to the “general licence”, a list of wild species that can be lawfully culled without the need for specific permission. We walked through the magnificent buildings at the bottom of the park before catching the boat back to the London Eye and a final stroll along the Thames. A last refreshment stop in Le Pain Quotidien, next to the Festival Hall, was much enjoyed, partly as we were seated in a railway arch with regular trains passing overhead. It was dark when we got back to Waterloo for our trip back home.
Peter asked us to park in the Village Hall car park opposite The Three Horseshoes and the adjacent cricket pitch view must be one of the best in Sussex. Our walk was mostly flat and in footpaths bordering fields with the South Downs above Harting always in view. Coffee stop was in the ruins of the 11th Century church of St Mary's Church Treyford. Saved from complete ruin by the generosity of the owners of Treyford Manor and English Heritage, it is now a Sheduled Monument. Several old gravestones still lurk amongst the vegetation. We reached The Three Horseshoes just as it seemed to be getting quite warm, but then it could have been the final hill! Excellent lunch in the garden. Thanks to Jeff for photo and for finding an excellent boys' toy - may well prove very useful. Thanks also to Jane for additional photos.