And so we limped away from the duckpond towards the place I’d really been heading for all along. Well, I limped anyway. The huge, spiny tree trunk in my boot gave me a sharp pain whenever I put my foot down and I was convinced there’d be a puddle of blood when I finally took the boot off. CJ still had no real idea what we were about to see but I did and the memory of the tranquil little church went a long way towards making up for the pain in my foot. Continue reading An ancient chapel, a blister and a long hard walk
When CJ spotted the sign for Manor Farm Country Park he was surprised and delighted in equal measures.
“I can’t believe we walked so far,” he said.
“Only five miles,” I said, with a quick look at my Garmin, “less if it hadn’t been for the getting lost, and quicker if it hadn’t been for the mud.”
“I haven’t been here since I was really little. I think it was with school and I was about six.”
He had a big grin on his face as we set off along the muddy Farm track. Continue reading Limping through Manor Farm Country Park
This week most of my walks had been errands with nothing much of note happening apart from distance being covered. Today I had big plans to get some interesting miles under my belt. By now I should know making plans is not a good thing because something always scuppers them. This time it was CJ oversleeping. To be fair, he didn’t know I was planning to go out super early for an extra long walk to show him something I thought he’d like. Maybe I should warn him next time. In the end we settled on a pared down version of the walk I had in mind, minus most of the interesting bits. Even so, there was plenty to see. Continue reading Apples in the graveyard, not walking the Cobbett Trail
If summer 2015 had a lesson for me it seemed to be that I should take a closer look at the places I thought I knew well. There certainly turned out to be a few surprises in store when I did. I also learned that the best way to find something was to stop looking for it when my frustratingly unsuccessful cygnet hunt came to an unexpected end. Continue reading 2015 new places and new things in old places
After several minutes of dithering, looking at Google Maps on my phone and wondering if there was something I was missing, I decided the only thing to do was to carry on along Brook Lane. Maybe I’d find a path that I couldn’t see from the map and, if not, I’d just have to walk back to Botley Village. Just the thought of it was disappointing, especially as I’d worked out a route home based on finding the church and I’d have to walk back the way I came if I couldn’t. So I turned the corner and carried on, looking to my left hopefully, thinking I might spot the church or a gate or something. There was nothing but trees. Continue reading St Bartholomews, beauty in simplicity
For the next part of my walk Botley I’d be following part of the Cobbett trail, a self guided walk in the footsteps of William Cobbett, the renowned political journalist turned radical politician and farmer. Cobbett moved to Botley in 1805 to farm the land and one of the first interesting buildings I came to was Cobbett’s Cottage. A house no bigger than my own with a crumbling wall and bricked up window backed with slate tiles seemed a fairly humble place for such a rich and famous man to have lived. Of course he didn’t actually live there, this little cottage is all that remains of his estate which was opposite Botley Mills. Continue reading Church Lane, the Cobbett trail
On Sunday I decided it was time to revisit Botley. Back in January when I walked out there to visit the mills I promised myself I’d go back to explore further and it seemed about time I got on with it. It was a pleasant morning, not too hot, not too cold, a touch of blue in the sky and Commando was out on a long run training for Toronto. There’d been some preparation the night before and I had a good idea where I’d find what I was looking for. I’d even planned a circular route so I didn’t have to walk back the same way I’d come. All in all it seemed like I had a plan. Now what is it they say about plans? Continue reading Revisiting Botley and possibly the prettiest loo in the world
The village of Botley grew up around a ford over the River Hamble surrounded by the beautiful Hamble Valley countryside. The water of the Hamble turned the mill wheels at Botley Flour Mills for many centuries. Part of my reason for walking the four and a half miles to Botley was to visit Botley Mills. Ok, so I’d got ever so slightly distracted by all the wonderful old buildings in the village, not to mention the church but, finally, I walked down Mill Hill to the mills. Continue reading Botley Mills, the water that has passed
When I left the church I had warming coffee on my mind and a hope that I’d find some somewhere in the village. Botley is a village of quaint old buildings that have been standing for centuries. Many are a little crooked and, although some of the businesses are modern, the place has an old world feel to it, like stepping back into another, gentler time. Next to the church was a terrace of red brick cottages, all the same except for their doors, which opened almost onto the street. For some reason nearly every door had a sign saying ‘please use back door,’ and I wondered why. Beyond them I could see an A frame sign on the street, maybe it was a coffee shop. Continue reading So many buildings, so little time
Botley began life as a Saxon village and the name means Botta’s leah, or a clearing in a forest belonging to a man named Botta. When the Romans built a road between Chichester and Clausentum, where my village now is, it passed Botley and a settlement grew up around the small Saxon one. Although I’ve visited it once or twice, mostly I’ve just driven through on the way to somewhere else and I’ve never really explored it properly. This turns out to be a terrible omission on my part because it has a lot to offer. Continue reading Botley, at last and a church to explore