Walking off the Christmas Pudding: 29 December 2017
I can’t actually say that figgy pudding lay heavy on the stomach, but before going off to celebrate Christmas in Australia, Colin Wilson established a Trust practice of “walking off the Christmas pudding”. Mary Ferriss and I stepped in to ensure the tradition lived on.
When we saw the forecast – unremitting heavy rain – we rather wished we hadn’t, but in the event we had an hour and a half of good open weather, ideal for walking, before the clouds darkened, and rain first spattered then poured down.
Nine people met near Finchampstead church. We walked past the Queen’s Oak, over the first of three stiles, across a field where the sign warning of bulls was belied by the absence of any livestock whatsoever, and round past Wick Hill to Ridge Farm. The way between these last two doubles as a shallow watercourse in times of heavy rain and the previous day’s downpour had still to drain away to the King’s Mere and lay heavy in the mud at bottom of the hill; going was soggy for a100 yards or so, but apart from this the whole walk was good.
We then went down Dell Lane where views opened up across the Blackwater Valley to Eeversley and Bramshill, and past Moor Green where ornithologists in the company told us of the birds we saw. The path beside the River Blackwater brought us through increasing rain to Fleet Hill Farm where we turned right, crossed the road, and walked through the fields up the ridge back to the church.
Well, to be honest, for most of us it was back to the Queen’s Oak where Cynthia and Pierre welcomed us with drinks, alcoholic and otherwise, and good food. After seven miles, the Christmas pudding was well and truly walked off; time to walk off the sausages and mash, anyone?