Saturday 18th March
The second of our Walk The Valley season of circular walks started and finished, as advertised, at Eversley Church. Despite a forecast of rain, a distance 50% longer than our last walk and stiles, there was another impressive turnout as 30 people and 6 dogs met at the start, including both regular attendees and those walking with us for the first time.
As we headed out, after Paul’s safety briefing, a majestic red kite swooped low over us, the first of many seen throughout the walk. While the photo does not do it justice, it is, at least, in focus, a first for me. We set off through the plantations, mostly avoiding any mud because Paul had checked and slightly changed the route to avoid it, though there were some impressive puddles. Paul showed us an unusual landmark representing a SAGA (Sand and Gravel Association) Restored Gravel Pit Award.
Emerging from the woodland, we encountered the River Blackwater and some of us recognised part of the route from Walk The Path. Paul had engineered his usual ‘surprise’ with hot drinks and cakes by the river. This was also an opportunity for a group photo.
Paul had a second surprise for us as he had obtained permission for us to walk through the grounds of Warbrook House, a Grade 1 listed mansion, built in the 18th century by John James, who was associated with Sir Christopher Wren’s circle of architects, and now used as a wedding venue.
The walk had promised spring flowers and we saw thousands of daffodils, primroses, wood anemones, celandines and coltsfoot. We also saw a variety of domesticated animals, many horses, sheep, goats and a farm where there were many types of geese and ducks, including those in the photo, which I think are Muscovy ducks.
Seeing the many interesting sights, learning about the landscape and buildings from Paul, and chatting to our fellow walkers made the nine miles pass easily, and suddenly we were back in Eversley, and seeing the grave of Charles Kingsley in the churchyard.
The threatened rain did not materialize and this was a thoroughly enjoyable walk. Special thanks to Marilyn and Angus, who provided the refreshments, to Mike, our patient back marker, who waited no matter how long we spent talking to goats or photographing ducks and, of course, to Paul, our knowledgeable walk leader.
This is the second of a number of circular walks BVCT is providing this year, all led by Paul, and which can be found by going to the BVCT web site – http://www.bvct.org.uk/events