Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Haslemere to Black Down (Serpent Trail 1)

Haslemere High Street

We met up with our friends Viv and Giles to start what we hope will be a new Long Distance Path project: the Serpent Trail. I noticed it marked on the OS map as I was searching for a walk in this area. The official website explains that it a 64 mile trail from Haslemere to Petersfield, designed to highlight the outstanding landscape of the greensand hills. The name comes from the twists and turns of its route. We "hope" because we are all a bit crocked at the moment, so progress may be slow. Still, a journey of a thousand miles and all that.

We start in Haslemere's attractive High Street: it just lacks an imposing building to provide a focus. We walk to the bottom and turn left into Petworth Road and soon take a path on the left: we were staggered to not find a way marker at this critical point.

The path soon passes an interesting structure. It is called Speckled Wood, after the butterfly, and was built by the National Trust in conjunction with the well-known woodsman and conservationist Ben Law.  It houses a training school for National Trust volunteers.

A curving path through muddy fields brought us back to the road which we crossed at Almshouse Common near the set of former almshouses which gave its name to the locality. They date originally from 1676 and have rather handsome porches. It seems that a further pair are being built on the exact same design.

We followed a climbing path, with a valley to our right and a high ridge beyond it to pass a couple of farms and reach a lane. Here we turned right, with distant glimpse of Leith Hill, the scene of a walk we did in 2009.

This soon entered woodland and twisted and turned to bring to where we had parked on the north east edge of Black Down.

Conditions: pleasant, if a bit grey.

Distance: 2.5 miles.

Map: Explorer 133 (Haslemere and Petersfield). Should be the only map we will need!

Rating: three stars. A very pleasant walk. It was very enjoyable to be out in the fresh air, but I couldn't find much in the way of photographic opportunities. Perhaps we were too busy talking!

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