I have recently moved house to an area that I never been to before, so one of the first priorities after getting the house sorted was to explore the local area.
The village of Liss is in East Hampshire but lies just 1 mile from the West Sussex border. It is situated on the Greensand Ridge of The Weald bounded by the North and South Downs. The modern village grew up around the Victorian railway station which serves the main line from London Waterloo to Portsmouth.
Adjacent to the main line, close to the level crossing, is the start of the Longmoor Military Railway footpath. Initially known as the Woolmer Instructional Military Railway. It was renamed the Longmoor Military Railway in 1935. The Liss extension was opened in 1933. The line was used to train military personal in the operation of running railways around the world. However, in the build-up to D-Day up to 7000 troops a day were being moved forward for embarkation. This formed the starting point of todays 7 miles local area exploration walk.
The walk took me along the disused railway track as far as Forest Road where I turned right, walked through Liss Forest. The route then followed a section of the Shipwrights Way, a 50 mile long distance route which links villages and towns in east Hampshire. The name reflects the use of oak grown at Alice Holt Forest for Tudor shipbuilding.
Following the Shipwrights Way along Warren Road and Reeds Lane before turning right along Brewells Lane to the village of Rake. My path then followed part of the Serpent Trail a 64-mile long distance footpath. It runs from Haslemere to Petersfield, which a re 11 miles apart in a straight line, by a route which is designed to join up the many heathland areas on greensand in the western Weald. This route took me through Rake Hanger SSSI to Hill Brow Lane and finally back down hill into Liss.
During the Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion launch I met up with Ashley Beolens from the blog ‘Views From An Urban Lake’. Whilst we were out of the group walks (over 60 participants) we both discovered that we liked the same thing and that was solo walking. The advantage of solo walking is that you are not tempted or obliged to talk to other people. The outcome is that you can hear nature, you can enjoy seeing creatures that have not been scared off by loud groups.
By keeping your ears and eyes open to what is going on around you, you will be surprised what you can encounter. Today, amongst many others, I saw a Buzzard, Magpie, Black Bird, Robin, Wren. Heard a couple of woodpeckers and enjoyed the antics of squirrels and the stealth of a fox.
But its is not just the wildlife that brings a smile to my face. Sometime you came across some thing when you are out walking that you just have to photograph. I found this farm sign and I am in a quandary as to whether it is 4 months too late or 8 months too early? At least I know where I will be buying my Christmas Tree from this year.
And finally after a long and sometimes frustrating winter it is just so nice to see and feel the sunshine filtering through the branches of the trees. makes the walk all the more worthwhile.
I have got a lot more of my new locale to explore over the coming weeks and that’s without even heading for the South and North Downs. There will be areas near you that you have probably never visited. Get the OS Map out and take a look at what is around your home, you will be surprised.