As established in our last post about walking the Wayfarers, it’s nice to plan your route to incorporate a good coffee shop! So, before starting this walk, I was sure to visit The Old Forge Tea Room to fuel myself for the day’s walking and make use of their facilities. I can recommend it if you are also walking in the area.
We actually met at Stewarts Green where there was space to park on the residential street just by the footpath.
Hambledon seems quite an historic place, but the main fact we knew about it was that it was known as the ‘cradle of cricket’. Originally a social club for local nobility, Hambledon became the foremost cricket club in England by the late 18th Century, attracting some of the best players in the country… so we had our eyes peeled for a cricket green. We found out by asking a local that it’s actually outside the village, so we didn’t see anything of it at all!
We did spot George House as our path went right past it and I’ve since learnt that it is an 18th century coaching house. Apparently the old Cricket Club held its annual dinners there in the 18th century and historically a coach left daily to catch the Portsmouth to London stage-coach near Petersfield.
From George House, our route went up, up, up out of the village. We paused to take a photo as an excuse to catch our breath:
Now for a goat out exploring, there is nothing more exciting than stumbling across a new campsite! Between Hambledon and Denmead I spotted what looked like the tops of campervans and had to take a little detour to explore further!! We found a charming little campsite with minimal facilities called Pit Hill Farm – and it’s on our to do list to go back to pay them a proper visit!
By the time we were approaching Denmead, it was time for lunch and we made the slightly odd lunch stop of the cemetery! It was a nice sunny spot with a bench and a nice view – we were just careful to pick a seat that was away from the areas others were visiting in case they found us boiling up the jet boil for our cuppa-soup disrespectful!
Denmead means ‘meadow in the valley’. Although there was a Denmead Farm from 1200, the bit we saw was fairly modern. The historical fact that lodged in my memory is that the village pond had been filled in and is now the site of the health centre, which we walked past!
We left the Wayfarers Walk at Closewood Road and headed towards the Forest of Bere. Locals told us this is pronounced ‘beer’ like the drink not ‘bear’ like the animal. We entered the woodland via an avenue of small leaf lime trees, planted to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. It was a relief to walk through the woodland on a sunny afternoon, and even nicer to come across the Chairmakers Arms at the other side of the forest, where we stopped for a refreshing drink.
We then followed the Allan King Way path (I sometimes think we’ve done nearly as much of his walk as the Wayfarers!) back towards Hambledon. At Boarhuts Copse we were careful to not descend to Hambledon but to make sure we went to Litheys Hanger where on our last walk we’d stopped for lunch and turned off the Wayfarers path. We lit up the jet boil for a cup of tea in the last of the sunshine, before completing the little section of Wayfarers Walk we’d missed to go back to our cars.
This circuit was approximately 10 miles.