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.
Jennifer led from Prinsted car park around the Chidham peninsula and back to The Old House at Home for lunch. The walk was totally hill free and the weather was excellent for this seaside walk. The rotting posts we saw going out to sea at Chidham point turned out to be the remains of a failed bid in 1870 by farmers seeking to increase their land. They thought that by damming up the whole of the Thorney Channel from Chidham to Thorney Island with over 3,000 posts and thousands of tons of Petersfield chalk, they could silt up the entire Thorney Channel. Mother nature took little notice and within 7 weeks had breached the dam and the sea has continued to use the channel unhindered ever since. After a very good lunch we took the short route back to the Prinsted car park. On the way back we noticed two light aircraft flying in formation. It turns out they were Slingsby T67 ex-military trainers from Power Aerobatics at Goodwood - you can have a ride in one for a mere £299. The distance covered was a little over 7.1/2 miles.
Jean's Duncton walk proved very popular despite the overcast day. Apples were tested along the way and the walk ended in The Cricketers in Duncton. The 19th century owner John Wisden, the cricketer who published the famous Wisden Cricketers' Almanack changed the name from The Swan after he brought the property in 1867. Many thanks to Barbara for the photos.