Walk #6 – East Hagbourne Rambers
Mea culpa: There was a New Years walk on 1 January and nearly thirty hardy folks enjoyed it, but your erstwhile leader did mess up on the starting time causing the valiant who had dutifully arrived at 1:00 (as listed in this fine publication) to wait a damp and chilly half-hour for those who arrived at 1:30, the time that I listed in a later email. Apologies. Am I fired?
January 8th. A mild, dry day with some occasional periods of sunshine – ideal for rambling – and 20 people appeared for the first ramble of the year. A newcomer to the village had posed a question about walking routes to South Moreton and that provided the stimulus – in the absence of any better inspiration – for where we might go.
We headed down Main Road to start at the Causeway (Parsonage Lane) and the turned east on Fieldside to come to Tadley. This route to Tadley provides the opportunity to walk what is arguably the shortest footpath in East Hagbourne, the tiny snicket that cuts the corner between Fieldside and Blewbury Road (which is much in need of a “haircut”!) We crossed Blewbury Road to pick up the footpath that then runs east from the Spread Eagle pub (site of) to South Moreton.
From this point it is less than two-miles to South Moreton but there are some choices to be made and in three places it is obvious that the farmer would prefer that the rambler follow a field-edge track rather than the legal alignment. We made these small diversions but the unwary rambler might find that the going is less than obvious. Observing those cautions, we headed east out of Tadley to the Mill Stream crossing at the ‘famous’ papermill. Just over the bridge is the first field-edge diversion to the left and then a left turn (through a hedge) to the next field where again the farmer would prefer that we follow the field-edge (left) rather than walk across his crop. At this point, having just passed under the high-voltage power line, we bear right (leaving this hedge to our left) along a barely discernable, east-going path. After crossing a stile we come upon our last diversion – again to the left – to walk between the field-edge and Mill Brook and finally come to South Moreton and its abandoned watermill.
We stopped at the church in South Moreton, which, sadly, was locked but we did observe its ancient but battered yew tree which is attested to be over 1,600-years old. The walk home is much more straightforward: From the village edge, we followed the footpath that runs north-west beside the Didcot Road to Fulscot Farm and then the west-going bridle-path to the south-west footpath into East Hagbourne. We returned to Upper Cross in just over two-hours and we had covered a little more than 5½-miles. Won’t you join us next time? We will leave at 1:30 and, with the days growing longer, we will seek a slightly more distant destination.