Sunday, February 16, 2014

Soggy Hampshire walk round Jane Austens Chawton.

Distance: 5 miles
Start & Finish: Chawton opposite Jane Austen Museum
Refreshments: Cassandra's Cup Coffee Shop, Greyfriars pub
Parking: Car park in Chawton opposite Jane Austen Museum
Conditions:  Dry to start off with, second half of walk alongside a brook with fields that are damp under foot.  400 metre walk along busy road with no pavement, followed by damp fields and one short muddy walk.
Runkeeper Route:  Runkeeper

Having a visitor this weekend who was interested in Jane Austen we decided to do a walk starting at the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, and include a visit to the museum.

As Hampshire is currently suffering a number of floods due to the recent bad weather, we were aware that we may have to re-plan when we arrived in the area.  As we arrived at Chawton the first flood related issues became apparent, firstly the A32 was closed south, and there was a power cut in Chawton itself, which meant that the museum and the coffee shop were closed, which caused some upset.

The walk sets off from the car park of the museum, which had a confusing sign which either said car park closed or footpath closed, we took this to mean that the footpath leading out of the car park over the river was closed, which would not affect us.

We followed a walk from the AA guide that we have, but which does not appear on their website.

Heading west from Chawton we followed the road turning right on Ferney Close, to meet and walk along St Swithun's Way just before it crosses the A32.  St Swithun's Way is a long distance walk between Winchester and Farnham.  We followed St Swithun's Way as it heads down a disused railway before turning off the tracks at an old bridge that has been blocked by earth.

Crossing back across the A32 we saw another operation caused by the recent flooding, a pump was pumping water along the road to a stream, the noise of this could be heard from quite some distance way.

Massey's Folly
Heading up the track towards Manor Farm brought us to Farringdon where we headed in to the village and paused for a quick drink on the seat opposite the Village Hall (Masseys Folly) and discussed the building that stood before us.

Yew Tree in Churchyard.
Setting off again we headed through the churchyard, and were amazed by the Yew trees, the first of which had been split at some point in its history.  Exiting the churchyard we set off down the road.

After half a mile we turned left off the road up a track and then right at the footpath sign that directed us down a grassed track, which, after a style became pasture fields.  We were amazed that although this part of the route followed a brook, there was no real evidence of the flooding that has affected the local area.

After heading through a field of sheep and crossing the brook a couple of times, the ground getting steadily damper under foot, but not impassible, we exited the fields at the somewhat busy A3006.  Turning left to walk alongside the road for around 300 metres, not ideal as the hedgerow kept us in the road, which is reasonably fast and fairly busy.  Just after the Shepherds Court with some relief we turned back off the road and again into the fields, pausing to read a sign informing walkers, fortunately not our route, of a path that was now closed by the landowner.  Following the path the fields got damper and damper as we headed towards Eastfield farm.  Skirting the farm through kissing gates we passed through a field with sheep and Llamas.

After the farm we entered a copse which descended into muddy fields with horses and crossed these to re-enter Chawton through a narrow alley, before walking back to the car park.

I enjoyed this walk up until the final 3rd, when the styles became high and uncomfortable, and the busy A3006 would put me off recommending this walk for anyone uncomfortable with main roads.

There are other walks setting out from the same car park.