Section 3: 11 miles (17.7 kilometres), August, hot & cloudy, lovely child and silly dog
TL;DR harvest festival, nuts and blackberries, just add water and push me up the hill.
The Earth is parched today but look around and there is food ripening everywhere. August has arrived, hot and generous. We’ve brought a hundredweight of water. Once we leave the suburbs the ground is dust and Shovell sits down mid walk. He isn’t budging until he drinks a pail of water.
We don’t stop at Holybourne church, there’s a playgroup happening, I hear the yelling and briefly consider dropping Shovell off for a play. After a micro rest by the church pond we press on through the fields lined with hazel trees. We stop to exchange gifts, lovely son gives me a feather, I give him some cob nuts.
We plough on, and after many harvested fields we stop for a brunchnic at Froyle church where we bag a stamp and a chat with the warden. She’s very proud of her church, very happy to see the new bench in the churchyard being used. Shovell eats all his food in one go.
In the next village we stop for drinks at the Anchor, Lower Froyle. This is a lovely wooden hulk of a pub, with a dictionary by the door. How i’d love to stay and do a cryptic crossword. It’s fine drinking warm water from a bottle, who doesn’t love warm water in a lane on a hot day, but it’s finer still drinking raspberry and apple with ice.
The birds are quieter but we notice the wildflowers and butterflies. The sunwashed blue chicory flower with tiny small heaths visiting, common blues on claret red burnet, and a comma on burdock, they’re all out today and everyone wants feeding.
Eventually we reach the yews at Bentley churchyard, they sinew themselves over the path, too old and heavy to hold their limbs up, propped up by posts. We find windfall damsons too, lovely son can’t resist stomping on one to see if it will squelch everywhere, but immediately regrets destroying it.
We find apples too and scrump one, but sadly it’s still too sharp.
Through a wood, on and on, and then a hill, we argue over who will push the other up it. It’s so unfair to put hills near the end, it’s not playing the game. But over the top we find life sustaining blackberries and eat half a kilo, at least. Eventually our hands are juicy purple. We will make it to Farnham after all. And we do, in time for lollies and ice cream.
More walks on the Pilgrims’ Way
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I use The Pilgrims Way by Leigh Hatts as a guidebook, it’s pretty much essential for this walk. You can buy it here or from good independent bookshops.
I also use a GPX file imported from British Pilgrimage Trust into the Ordnance Survey app. Whilst it is usually very accurate, the route differs from the book in places.
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