Many remarkable people found their identities on rivers: Cleopatra on the Nile; Lewis and Clark on the Missouri; Mark Twain on the Mississippi; Jeff Bezos on the Amazon. This is the story of my 600+ mile walk along the waterways of southern England in the summer of 2014, and the remarkable people I met along the way. It is best read in chronological order, so I recommend starting with the earliest posting in the Blog Archive list in the right margin.
Walk completed August 16, 2014
Saturday, July 5, 2014
July 5, 2014 -- Day 20, Winchester to Warnford
Rivers Test and Itchen are now behind me, and I’ll be abandoning river walks
for a few days while I follow the South Downs Way to Eastbourne. I started
today’s walk much earlier than usual because I couldn’t bring myself to pay £15
for a buffet breakfast. My map told me that there was a pub about halfway to my
destination, so I decided on an early start without breakfast and a pub lunch.
route I chose would have me walk almost a mile on the A31, a dual carriageway
east of Winchester. Early on a Saturday morning, there was only a little
traffic, but with no verge on either side, I had to walk in the median. The
grass was about a foot high, and with last night’s rain, my boots were soaked
in minutes. After about a half mile, I concluded this plan wasn’t very good, so
detoured onto a private farm lane that intersected the A31. The farm lane was
about ½ kilometer from the road I wanted, but it proceeded generally the
direction I wanted to go, so I continued on it. The lane continued through a couple
of gates, and into a large pasture with about 50 cattle grazing on a hillside
about 50 meters east of the lane. All went well until I was completely passed
the cattle, and then one bullock took a liking to me. He slowly came down the
hill to investigate further, but then in order to catch up to me, he broke into
a run. That attracted all the other cattle, who also broke into a run towards
me. The bullock stopped about 10 yards from me with a puzzled look on his face.
I flailed my arms at him, and he leapt up the hillside for about 10 yards. Then
he stopped again.
I continued on, he again ran after me, inducing the other 50 cattle to join in
the fun. Again, he stopped about 10 yards from me, and a wave of my hiking
sticks, caused him to retreat. Each time I walked on, he raced to catch up, stopping
about 10 yards away, now surrounded by all of his buddies.
the farmhand at Inkpen, had told me that when cattle see a human walking, they
assume that they are going to be led to another pasture, and, being curious, follow
along hoping for greener grass. These cattle seemed to get more excited the
closer I got to the gate for the next pasture, and as I came upon the gate,
they all rushed towards me. I went through the gate and closed it in their
faces. They looked disappointed. I’m glad the gate wasn’t locked.
farm lane finally joined with the South Downs Way at a point called Cheesefoot
Head, noted as the location where General Eisenhower spoke with American Troops
before the D-Day invasion.
South Downs Way is generally a bridleway, which means that the trail is
typically 6 to 8 feet wide, well signed, and without stiles. Large gates allow
for easy passage between fields. It is an ancient trail, following droveways
and old paths along a chalk escarpment dividing the Hampshire and Sussex
forests and the south coast of England.
the first place to sit, I removed my boots and wringed out my wet socks. While
I was seated, two riders came by on their ponies. They rode only slightly
faster than I walked, and when I arrived at the half-way pub for lunch, they
were there also.
Nadine on Kash
Helen on Minstrel
lunch, I continued on, as did the riders, and I followed them all the way to
Warnford, as they gradually increased their lead on me.
River Meon at Warnford
met nobody else on the trail all day – surprising for a Saturday; the weather
continued to threaten rain, but there was none all day.