Sunday, 26 April 2009
Upper Wield to Abbotstone (Three Castles Path 7)
Back on the Three Castles Path. The route continues from Upper Wield as before, following a track with fields on one side and woods on the other. The first wood, Barton Copse, had a very good showing of bluebells, while the second, Wield Wood, was even more impressive. It seems to have been an especially good year for bluebells.
The next stretch is more open with lovely views over fields and hills. At the end of another wood, the track descends to join a farm drive and then a road. After half a mile along the quite busy road, the route turns into the Spy Bush plantation and becomes a leafy open track with brimstone butterflies in some numbers.
Emerging from the woods, you turn left onto Spybush Lane and are quickly greeted by the sight of this imposing church away across the fields.
A study of the map reveals it to be in Northington - the church of St John Evangelist. Pevsner describes it as "a typical estate church, proudly provided by the squire". He describes the tower as being of the Somerset type and we have indeed seen a similar one at Blagdon.
Past more typical Hampshire countryside ...
... you go through a small wood, cross a road and enter Abbotstone Down, a good site for the Chalkhill blue butterfly - but not today.
Our route now follows that of the Wayfarers Walk (which runs 70 miles from Inkpen Beacon in Berkshire to Emsworth between Portsmouth and Chichester - a future project). Taking the form of another field-edge track it leads to Abbotstone, a place so small that it is only the signpost with the name Abbotstone in a white circle at the top that confirms that you are there. There was once a medieval village here.
For now, the main sight is the fast flowing river Candover emerging from under the road.
From: The Three Castles Path by David Bounds for the East Berkshire Ramblers’ Association Group. Stages 11-12.
Map: 132 (Winchester, New Alresford and East Meon).
Rating: three and half stars. Quiet, pleasant tracks, copses, farmland. Perhaps becoming a bit samey - the two previous stretches were really very similar.
A reasonable selection of butterflies: lots of Brimstones, and quite a few Orange Tips, Speckled Woods, Peacocks, Small Whites.