The month of October looms and we will shortly be required to lead our village walkers on a ramble. We have left it very much to the last minute. Time was when you walked the walk at least twice before you sallied forth with villagers in tow. Things are a bit more laid back now and, for example, if we end up recapitulating a previous walk it does not matter.
Leafing through my copy of 50 walks in Dorset I find a walk of suitable length (~4 miles) centred upon the village Ibberton. A good portion of this would be on country roads but it looks ok. Unfortunately the Crown Inn in Ibberton is up for sale:(
I find another walk which we could start in the village of Shroton (Iwerne Courtney), to take us via Childe Okeford and carry us over Hambledon Hill with a gentle descent and back to our start point, the carpark of the Cricketers Inn. Looks good on paper.
And so we park up at the pub in a village in which we looked at a property years and years ago when Nick was working at Verwood in the New Forest. The house went to auction at the same time as Nick was hunted for the second time by Terry Maher of Pentos. A near miss.
We left the village walking north turning onto farmland just after crossing the miniscule River Iwerne. We followed the trickle, past some pens of porkers making our way towards Oyle’s Mill, turning west to Park Farm and the Lynes. We then joined the lowermost foothills of the magnificent Hambledon Hill. We tracked round towards the village of Childe Okeford and just before we entered the village we turned up a track to skirt parkland which would eventually bring us to a distinctive stone stile, at which point the most energetic part of the walk begins.
We walked east up a wooded track to the Nature Reserve sign. There we continued east crossing contours and this was the most puffy part of the walk. At some point the ascent becomes more oblique – the worst is over. When you reach the trig point the views are fabulous.
We did not take the optional track along to the Iron Age Fort but we saw many stick figures there, in the distance. As it happened we had chosen a day to spec the walk when a National Trust open day was offering guided walks from a focal point in a field in Childe Okeford to the summit and to the fort site.
Descending from the trig point along a bridleway I felt a real high, whether from the knowledge that the steep climb was behind me, or from natural wellbeing chemicals buzzing around my system I do not know. Perhaps a bit of both.
Arriving at the pub they found us a table for two which was fortunate as the place was full. We ate the roast of the day which was beautifully cooked. The owners and staff were very busy and I think the pub will do very nicely for a picky clientele 😉 I made a provisional booking for ten people and the pub obviously caters regularly for walkers. No surprise with such spectacular walking on the doorstep.