Sixteen miles isn’t an easy distance to walk, at least not for most normal mortals. It’s the point when everything starts to feel tough and muscles start to protest. Knowing this, I’d spent some time planning an interesting route with some really pretty bits in the second half to take Kim’s mind off her aching legs and feet. In fact I was looking forward to it because I’d found an unexplored footpath that I was fairly sure would take us onto the Itchen Navigation at Kiln Lane. It was one I’d passed many times but had never actually walked.
Walking is an everyday thing for me. Sometimes it’s just a march up the hill for supplies or a wander into town to meet a friend for coffee. Other times there is a real purpose to it, searching for boundary stones or Titanic crew houses, walking the walls or the Navigation, uncovering history. Some walks are filled with photo stops, others are about just drinking in the sights, smells and sounds. A lot of the time I walk on my own but CJ likes to tag along when he can. Today’s walk was completely different.
My lovely friend Rachel is recovering from major surgery. She can’t run like she usually does but she’s now allowed to walk. As I’d undergone something similar myself many years ago, I offered to join her for a walk. Kim said she was free, so then there were three. We agreed on a time and said we’d meet at The Feather.
When I left home it was all blue sky and the scent of Mexican orange blossom from my garden. The walk to Woolston was uneventful and unphotographed. As always, I was early so I sat in the Millennium Garden for a bit just enjoying the sun on my face. Kim was early too. She’d run all the way from the top end of the Avenue and been quicker than expected. Rachel was on time and looking very good all things considered.
We set off in the general direction of the Shore. None of us were sure how far Rachel would be able to walk and, if it turned out not to be very far, we could stop at Metricks for coffee. There were still no photos because we were so busy chatting.
We chatted our way past the coffee shop and on towards the Rolling Mills. We could stop at the café there if needs be. We didn’t need to though. Rachel was still feeling good and we kept on going, along the promenade past all the little beach shelters to the far end of the shore.
Of course we couldn’t not have an ice cream. It’s almost a rule to stop and sit on the bench by the no longer standing dead tree and eat ice cream, or, in Rachel and Kim’s case, ice lollies. Usually I take a photo of the sea and the tree. Today I took one of my friends enjoying their treat and then, because I am rubbish at selfies and hate having my picture taken, one of my friends and my ice cream, just to prove I was there too.
This was where I thought we’d turn back but Rachel was still raring to go. She wanted to walk in Westwood. I have been lost in Westwood more times than I care to admit but Rachel is a qualified run leader and she’s run in these woods many times. Perhaps, just for once, there would be no going in circles wondering where I was.
It started well. The first part of the path was awash with green alkanet. I even stopped to take photos. Rachel was confident she knew where she was going and we followed, chatting and laughing as we slowly wandered amongst the trees,
It all went a bit wrong when we got distracted by the bluebells. There were great drifts of them painting the woodland floor blue. We meandered down one path after another gasping at their beauty.
Then we realised we didn’t quite know where we were. After a bit of walking in circles (probably anyway), we found what looked like one of the main paths. We seemed to be close to the end of it. In theory the Shore should have been nearby. Westwood is a maze of paths though and it’s full of tricks. We kept walking but, just in case, I opened the map on my phone. It was a good thing I did. We were almost in Netley, heading away from the shore not towards it!
As we turned around and began walking back, Rachel admitted she’d regularly got her running group lost in these woods. I’m glad it isn’t just me Luckily the extra walking didn’t do Rachel any harm and we made it back to Woolston in one piece, laughing all the way. Next time I think I’ll plan a route I know won’t get us lost.
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With a little help from Google Maps we found our way back to Hythe High Street. Here we sat for a moment or two on a shady bench and perused Google Maps. My next objective was on Shore Road where another famous resident of Hythe once lived. While I was searching for it I spotted a road called Sir Christopher Court. Behind it was a small park facing the water. Might this be where the hovercraft stone was hidden? As the park was right at the beginning of Shore Road, we decided to check it out. Continue reading Hythe, powerboats, hovercraft and a final postcard
Hythe is a quaint little place that seems half stuck in another, gentler age. The narrow High Street may be pedestrianised these days but the shops with their bow fronted windows look much as they must have when Jane Austin visited back in 1807. Red white and blue bunting was strung across the street and no one seemed to be in much of a hurry, unlike the busy city centre we’d left behind us. Despite its slightly old fashioned air, I knew there were some modern amenities and, once we’d left the pier, we both decided our first port of call should be one of them. Anticipating the journey CJ hadn’t had any breakfast, for fear of seeing it again on the boat, so we headed down the High Street to Costas for croissants and coffee. Continue reading Postcards from Hythe
On a Saturday morning I often find myself with time to kill while Commando is running parkrun. Sometimes I hang around chatting to the other spectators, sometimes I go off to get a coffee but, most often, I just wander around the Old Cemetery on Southampton Common. It’s good to leave the hubbub of parkrun behind and find a few peaceful moments wandering amongst the graves. The morning light and the changing of the seasons, along with the inscriptions on the stones, make it an interesting exercise. Sometimes I take a photo or two, sometimes my phone stays in my pocket. Usually there are not enough photos to warrant a blog post but I thought I’d gather a few together and share them with you. Continue reading Tales from the Old Cemetery
When we set out this morning it was sunny but cool. We’d guessed the weather would warm up a bit as the morning wore on though and were well prepared with bottles of water and snacks. We’d been sipping the water steadily all the way through the butterfly walk and, by the time we reached the shore, our bottles were almost empty. The day was turning out to be far hotter than we’d expected but the cool breeze off the water and a well earned ice cream made us feel much better and there were shops in Netley where we could replenish our stocks. Continue reading Water, oil and trains
After the snow came the rain. It seemed as if the sky was constantly dropping something on us. Everything was wet. Everything was muddy. Walking was a chore, to be got over with as soon as possible with the least amount of getting wet. Easter was fast approaching but nothing felt very springlike. Miles were travelled as I went about my daily business but my phone stayed firmly in my pocket and my camera stayed at home. Then I read about something I couldn’t bear to miss, rain or no rain.
We’d come to the end of the trail alongside Spear Pond. The footpath sign we saw by the first gate told me there must be a way through, just not where it would lead us. We could have taken the easy route and gone back through the gate and onto the Strawberry Trail. There’d be no chance of getting lost that way but it wouldn’t be as much of an adventure and I hate retracing my steps. Ahead I spotted two trails going off into the trees. Neither was marked. Continue reading A fungi filled copse and a road that thinks it’s a trail
We left Chartwell Copse feeling rather excited to have discovered a new and interesting looking footpath. Walking towards the gate I was careful to keep my bearings so I’d know which way to turn to get to it. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too hard to find a way onto it and then we could explore and find out where it led. Continue reading A surprising discovery
This is the time of year the garden spiders start to stray indoors and the house spiders come out in search of a mate. Although I’m not a great fan of the eight legged critters, we seem to have attracted two to our decking. One keeps building his web between the house and the decking rail, right where everyone walks. You’d think she’d learn but every morning her web is back ready to be broken again. We’ve called her Doris, mostly because the other, more sensible, spider has been called Boris. He’s built his web between the decking rail and the garden and seems to be very successful at catching things. CJ has seen him twice now with a bee. In fact he’s getting rather fat. Continue reading Insects, cut ways and a new copse