Monthly walk in August 2019

Thank you to walk leader Paul and his helpers for a lovely walk from Bramshot Farm Country Park.

Paul's walk report

The walk turned out to be a half mile longer than advertised and we were twenty minutes later than expected but I hope no one minded too much. But anyone who came on this walk on Saturday morning should admit, I hope, we saw and passed through some interesting areas.

Monthly walk 17 August 2019

Minley film set

We started under sunshine, but with clouds approaching, at the new Bramshot Farm Country Park. This area of 91 acres of grassland and woodland is now split into three areas. We followed the paths through all three, admiring the fox sculptures and carved benches and we were met by three very friendly cows. We left the park to climb up on the old Bramshot road, now almost disappearing in places, and admired the construction of some very serious bicycle jumps.

Across the motorway we entered Hawley Woods and soon found ourselves in the old athletic arena of Thompson’s Field. This was built in 1948 and was well used by the military and civilian running associations. Now nature is slowly reclaiming it. We made our way around a section of the old cinder track and we could still make out parts of the old terracing and railings.

Next we followed a narrow track which took us to the hidden beach by Hawley Lake. We watched a speed boat towing a skier and then followed the lake edge before climbing upwards to reach the pit known by the military as the “Bear Pit”. This has been the area where several films have been made including James Bond and Johnny English movies. Then we climbed to the old airstrip where a Jurassic Park and an Avengers film have been filmed plus many TV shows.

Leaving this behind we crossed on to the heathland of Hornley Common. Here we met up with Angus and Marilyn and their Yellow Wheelbarrow catering services. We were halfway around the walk and had done most of the climbing so these refreshments were very welcome. In her book of local reminiscences Nora Hough called this area “The Roly Poly” and mentioned it as being a look out place for highwaymen to watch for stage coaches on the A30. She also says Dick Turpin’s ghost can be seen here. Luckily we were just troubled by a very determined wasp with eyes on our cakes.

We continued on through the ling and bell heather to reach the Bronze Age bell barrow. We discussed the significance of this and the other two in Farnborough which used to feature on its old coat of arms. I refrained from giving a lecture on how this (according to Arthur Lunn’s book Our Hampshire Cove) lines up with sarsen stones near the M3 and with Tower Hill and the barrow in Albert Road to form a line of the rising sun on a certain day.

On again across another half mile of heathland before crossing the unexpectedly very busy Minley Road. Here we were helped by a couple of very kind motorists. Again following narrow paths we crossed a line of giant sequoias before emerging from the woods into the grassland above the Fleet Bends. We could see a new addition to the skyline and we headed up to investigate. A film set was being constructed. It looked like a stone age hut with a distressed windmill on top. The signs to the site used the code OTPL but we were none the wiser.

Minley beech tree

Minley beech tree

Next we passed along the lines of the huge beech trees with their incredible weighty branches hanging just above us. Descending down through the woodland brought us to the bridge used by the army to practice their explosive demolition skills. Now called the Chimaera Bridge but I have no explanation as to why as these are mythical fire-breathing female monsters with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. We saw none of these - maybe we came on the wrong day.

We now only had to follow the track past Moor Copse and Mallards Copse over the motorway and we were back in the Bramshot Farm area. So after nine miles of arenas and beaches and cows and bear pits and film sets and airstrips and cumulus and tumulus and heather and huge trees and bridges and a cup of tea, I hope everyone enjoyed it.

We hope to see you in September.