Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Marley Common to Clayton Court (Serpent Trail 3)

Ridge Plantation

We have decided to try to speed up our Serpent Way project with Viv and Giles and have planned a bit over 8 miles today with a picnic in the middle.

We left the car park on Marley Common and rejoined the trail, having carefully noted how to do so at the end of the last leg. I have to admit that before very long we missed a turning on the left and realising we had lost our route backtracked until we found it.

The Serpent Way waymark is a rather pleasing white isosceles triangle with a maroon serpent motif. The triangle is placed on a post with the apex pointing in the desired direction. Mostly this works splendidly, but it does take a bit of study to identify which of the three sides is the apex - perhaps it could be marked with a maroon tip? But also the markers are quiet small and if you are deep in an interesting conversation it seems to be terribly easy to miss one.

We eventually negotiated our way off Marley Common and into the Ridge Plantation. Forest tracks  led us into Linchmere Common and then to Stanley Common where we found some wonderful felled trees which made an excellent picnic spot.

We must have wandered off piste after this because we reached a road where there was no sign to help us. However, skilful map reading enabled us to work out that we had to turn right and soon we were back on track - a long straight one through more woodland and then a golf course.

This brought us to the Liphook to Petersfield Road (B2070) and a pub. Giles and I especially were dismayed to find it was closed. After this we followed a track into more woods and - again! - missed a turn. Again, some good map reading enabled us to work out where we had gone wrong and find a corrective course which would reconnect with the official path at the edge of Chapel Common.

A wide track brought us down to the B2070 again and we followed it into Rake where we did find an open pub and a refreshing drink. From Rake a path led down through Rake Hanger. On the left there were some artificial fish ponds.

The hanger was a really delightful piece of woodland.

At the edge of the wood, the path meets a small road and turns back on itself, in keeping with its name. We continued on a short distance to the car park on the edge of Durford Wood where we had parked the car. Just beside it was Clayton Court, which a glimpse through the fence convinced me might be a fine country house. Perhaps it was once, but it is now apparently a care home.

Conditions: greyish but mild.

Distance: 8.4 miles. Distance now covered 15.7 miles.

Map: Explorer 133 (Haslemere and Petersfield).

Rating: three stars. We had a really enjoyable walk, but in truth it was more about the company than the inherent features of the walk itself. The main issue for me is that there are no views: alternating common and woodland is pleasant enough, but it does tend to merge into a sort of green nothingness. Not a single butterfly either, although that of course is more about the weather.

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