WALK 10 – UNDER HAMBLEDON HILL’S
WESTERN FLANK (map 2)
This walk affords fine views towards the hill on the outward leg, and westward from the hill’s lower slopes on the return, after passing through a splendid beech avenue. Parts of the walk are muddy after wet weather, and there is a low wall (with projecting steps) to be climbed. This is an adventurous walk with very uneven ground in places.
A. From the Cross go up the slope into the churchyard, then turn right and round to the church door. Take the path to the right between two remarkable old yew trees; then leave the path to the right over trodden grass, and go through a wooden arch towards the churchyard wall. (If instead of leaving the path you first continue towards some wrought iron gates, on your right you see a slab marking the grave of former Cabinet Minister and son-in-law of Winston Churchill, Duncan Sandys (1908- 87). To the left is the resting place of the famous composer and village resident Sir John Tavener (1944-2013). You go over the wall with the aid of projecting steps on each side.
B. Follow the path ahead alongside a fence, with a pond on the far side. Note the fine spread of an oak tree to your left. At the fence corner, bear diagonally right, cross a stile and reach a metal kissing gate. Don’t go through the gate into the lane beyond (part of the Old Coach Road) which leads to the High Street with Station Road opposite.
C. Instead you turn left along the field edge, and follow the path to the end of the next field. There go right over stone slabs by a gate, then turn sharp left up a tarmac track. Walk up towards a field gate with a kissing gate on the left, latterly through fine stands of beech. At the gate is a Natural England notice board.
D. Pass through the kissing gate and turn sharp left down between trees to join a path through a lovely beech avenue – with a fine spreading ash tree as an early bonus. You may hear a woodpecker, and deer are sometimes seen in the fields to your left. Follow the path to the end of the avenue by the field corner and beyond on rising ground, and duck under low branches to reach the open flank of the hill. Ahead a line of trees appears to bar your way, but you can either follow the main track through them, or climb to pass above them. Pause to admire the view of Okeford Hill and beyond on the left. Around the corner, follow one of the numerous tracks to the left along the flank of the hill: there are good views of the Manor House and generally of the countryside to the West. Finally, at an old (grassed over) quarry bear left down to a metal kissing gate with a Natural England information board opposite.
E. Go through the gate and down Pine Walk – mostly ash and sycamore now but with a few pine stumps still showing.
F. At the end, go through the wooden kissing gate, turn left through another kissing gate and walk along the right-hand edge of the field parallel to the road. At the far corner, go through a kissing gate and down steps, turn right then left into the road, and turn left at the end to reach the Cross.