Walking The Western Weald – May 2024 Newsletter

May 3, 2024 | Newsletter

People birdwatching

May 2024 Newsletter

Wow…April was one busy month on the walking front, and with the sun increasingly putting in an appearance, and the paths slowly drying up (not that walkers on last Sunday’s Smelly Feet walk through the Hangers would agree!) the scene is hopefully being set for some even busier months ahead.

The most fun walk of April was Follow The Swallow from our great hosts Langham Brewery. Although neither swallow nor cuckoo put in an appearance, our 3 expert twitchers helped us spot 28 feathered friends. That said, two, a ladybird and chicken, might need referring to the RSPB for a ruling on inclusion. I also don’t think any of us will forget in a hurry how to identify a wren after Nigel’s impersonation of ‘an angry cockney with attitude’.

Themed Walks

The themed walks, which I spent the winter researching and putting together, have now all been trialed. Most importantly, your feedback (on content and length) has all been positive. My choice of cafe on the Flintstones walk has also received a 5 star approval rating, with someone on each walk taking a loaf of bread home with them in their rucksack. I’ll be needing to remind future walkers to bring a bigger bag on this walk!

The idea behind Walk The Chalk, the Flintstones, Night Owl and Left Yew For Dead is to have some leisurely ‘walk and talks’ for people (locals and visitors) to learn more about the Western Weald. My plan is for these walks to be staples through the summer months on Wednesdays. Why Wednesday you ask? Alliteration of course! It just had to be Western Weald Wednesday Walks. In the autumn I’ll make a point of scheduling these once each at the weekend to ensure people not able to make Wednesdays don’t miss out.

Rail2Trail

The other major walking event of April was the Rail To Trail Walking Festival organised for the Hampshire, IoW and New Forest Community Rail Partnerships on behalf of South Western Railway. We were delighted to have SWR’s Community Rail Manager, Paula Aldridge, join a walk from Petersfield and for Jeremy Mitchell, of the Edward Thomas Foundation, to provide us with a poetic interlude at the Poet Stone. The trains were unfortunately not on their best behaviour that week. However, proving that they can be a very useful way of connecting with walks, especially linear ones, one lovely lady travelled to Petersfield all the way from the Isle of Wight entirely by public transport…..on a non-strike day of course!

group of walkers

What’s Coming Up?

As this weekend’s ‘Night Owl’ walk is full I have added another one on Monday 6 May. You might easily miss this as, to save time and space, I have simply added another date to the Sunday 5 May walk. Could a leisurely evening walk be just the thing you need to round-off your Bank Holiday weekend?

In addition to the themed walks mentioned above, May will see us back at Langham Brewery for Polo, Picnic & A Pint’. This is a new linear walk where we will take the bus to Easebourne then loop back to the brewery (for our pint and picnic/pizza) via Cowdray’s various polo fields along the river Rother.

If you are more a grape person than grain, check out Wines & Gentle Inclines. This June walk is a scenic circuit around Upperton Vineyard, which is located between Midhurst and Petworth. While they don’t provide tours and tastings any more, they do have a terrace that overlooks the Downs and a shop that sells wine either by the glass or bottle. If you would like to settle in for the afternoon or not have to draw lots to decide who is driving, you might like to know that the No.1 bus (between Midhurst and Worthing) stops a short distance from the vineyard.

Vines in the South Downs

 

Lastly, there is something to bring out everyone’s inner big kid – a treasure hunt. Only, this hunt is neither for chocolate nor jewels…. but giant chalk balls. Take a look at Amazeballs to find out more.

 

Chalk Stone

 

Summer Charges

One further piece of information about upcoming walks concerns charging. As you can read here, this is something I have been wrestling with for a while. Unfortunately, from my own experience, and that of others, I know people are most likely to cancel/no show during the summer months. There are just too many distractions at this time of year and people have no skin in the game with a free walk.

When I say ‘people’ please don’t read this as a criticism of you. This is a national trend with free events. Last year I helped organise Reading’s first Walking Festival. Whilst well-attended, their drop out rate was almost 50%. Not surprisingly, they have decided to introduce charges this year. To ensure I don’t put lots of effort, unnecessarily, into a programme of summer walks, I too have decided to charge £5 for all walks between 1 June & mid-Sept. After that date general walks will revert to being free and just ocassional themed walks will be charged. This is because they take a lot of time to research, practice and retain in my increasingly sieve-like brain! I hope the charges won’t put you off joining me for a walk this summer.

Hangers Way In A Day

Fancy walking all 21 miles of the Hangers Way……in a day? Booking is now open for this Petersfield Walking Festival ‘Connecting Communities’ Walk, made possible thanks to support from East Hampshire District Council and Walk Alton.  Click on the link below to read more about the inspiration behind this walk and the plan for the day. This is not a challenge walk. Just like a normal Rural Strides walk, this is about building community and connection through walking.

 

Hangers Way signpost

Biophilia

Do you enjoy picking up bits and pieces on your walks? A feather here, leaf there or perhaps something curious that requires further investigation. And what do you do with them afterwards? I used to have an old shoe box of finds, but also remember taking prized items into school to display on a nature table. Is that still a thing in schools today?

If you can relate to this, I recommend a visit to Gilbert White’s new Biophilia exhibition. On until 23 June, this has been curated by local artist…and walker…Jackie Amies. It’s a lovely, little collection of treasures she has found on walks around the wider Selborne area, ‘watching narrowly’ & in the footsteps of Gilbert White. Arranged in both a traditional, wooden display unit and discarded IT boxes, the exhibition subtly conveys the message that it is better to experience nature up close and personal, as White did, rather than through screens. Hand lenses are provided so you can take a good close look at everything on display.

 

biophilia

 

 

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