You may be asking yourself why anyone would choose to walk to Basingstoke and back (you may be asking yourself why anyone would go to Basingstoke at all; it’s a valid question). Well, it just so happens that the closest edge of Basingstoke is almost exactly 10 km away, via footpath, over the North Downs. So, it makes a perfectly reasonable practice walk for 20 km over the South Downs. Plus, I wanted to buy some broccoli, and there is a farm shop on that edge that I mentioned.
I left my husband in charge of the children and set off. It rained very nearly all morning, and the ground was very muddy. Most of the landscape photographs that I took were dull and gloomy, but I did get to see plenty of wildlife, including a deer (I think it may have been a roe), pheasants, hares (I didn’t notice any rabbits), red kites and alpaca. Oh, OK, the alpaca weren’t wild. In fact, they seemed very nosey as I walked through their field; it’s just that I thought it quite unusual to see so very many of the Andean camelids in the Hampshire countryside (there were lots of them, in multiple fields).
My husband sent me a text suggesting that he and the children meet me for lunch. I was a bit later than he expected – I’d made an unfortunate decision to go the long way around one of the country estates that seem to ring Basingstoke – so he picked me up just before I reached the farm shop (but after I’d reached the road it’s on).
Lunch with small children is never a quick affair, and it was nearly 3 o’clock before I set off again. Unfortunately, the farm shop doesn’t open on bank holidays, so I didn’t get to buy my broccoli. This disappointment was offset by the appearance of the sun, and I decided to divert to see something that was marked as “White Barrow” on the map. There it was: a large, wooded lump in the middle of a field of rapeseed (there is a lot of that about at the moment). I followed the tractor tracks to get closer, but, as there was no access without forcing my way through the crop, I made do with a few photographs.
I took a different route on the way home and, despite my concern that something had gone horribly wrong and that I wasn’t as good at map-reading as I thought I was (it hadn’t and I might be reasonably good), all went well. Apart from having to call my husband to ask him to feed the children because – of course – it took more than 2 hours to get home. In fact, it took about 3.5 hours, largely because I didn’t choose the shortest route. Again.
I haven’t measure today’s walk on the map yet, but I’m certain that it was over 20 km.
All set for next weekend, then.
One last photograph: