Sunday, 15 March 2009
Odiham to Tunworth (Three Castles Path 4)
Leaving the car park at Odiham, you follow the bank of the Basingstoke Canal for a mile and half or so to reach the the ruins of the keep of Odiham Castle. The castle was built by King John between 1207 and 1214. It seems that he lived there for a while, but mainly used it as a Hunting Lodge - which is rather droll given that the previous stage of the walk featured a "King John's Hunting Lodge" which plainly had no connection with him. This is the initial view:
The dressed stone used for the outer face was stolen after the castle fell into disuse, which is why all that is visible today is the flint core. The castle had the distinction of having the only octagonal keep of any English castle. The view from the other side gives a clearer sense of the scale of the interior space.
After another half mile, the canal disappears into the Greywell tunnel - a narrow 1125m long space along which the bargemen had to propel the barges with their feet on the roof of the tunnel. It is apparently now home to 2000 bats.
The next stop is the pretty village of Greywell, with a line of attractive brick houses overlooking fields. The Malt House (once called the Kiln House) is one of the nicest - the former hop kilns can be seen in the near side wing.
You leave the village by the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin and quickly reach the river Whitewater.
Soon you come to Greywell Mill.
The final section of the route to Tunworth first follows a field path, with lovely views over the North Downs, and then the Harrow Way ....
.... which then comes to a wonderful junction of five paths in the middle of nowhere - Five Lanes End.
Turning left, a long straight section of path leads to the road into Tunworth. Entering the hamlet you see the old schoolmaster's cottage, with the former school room clearly visible on the right.
From: The Three Castles Path by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers’ Association Group. Stages 8-9.
Map: 144 (Basingstoke).
Rating: four stars.
The first butterflies of the year: lots of Brimstones, as might be expected, but also a few Peacocks, a Red Admiral and a Small White.
And a Little Egret - pure white, heron-like neck, long sharp black beak, yellow feet - in shallow water where the Whitewater flows under the Basingstoke Canal.