Saturday, 19 March 2011

South Downs Way

Queen Elizabeth Country Park → Exton

east-meon.png Distance: 10.2 miles
Ascent: 224 metres
Duration: 3 hours 36 minutes

Across the Meon valley
« Not walked | Not walked »

It's the final push for us on the South Downs Way this weekend, and we find ourselves doing something we've never done before: two day's walking, leaving the car at home and carrying everything we need on our backs. It's a liberating feeling, and something we hope to repeat a few more times in the near future.

Throughout the walk we've been puzzled by a paradox: despite being further inland than at any other time on the National Trail we've had a clear view of the sea (or at least the Solent and the Isle of Wight) all day. It's a pleasant reminder of the first day on the Downs when we rolled over the Seven Sisters.

The fort on Old Winchester Hill is thought to date from Bronze Age times, but a sizeable settlement was also built here in the second century BC. Although the remains of the original burial mounds are still clearly visible, nothing remains on the ground of the many hut circles that would have filled its space. Deviating slightly from the official route, we took some time to explore the site. It gives an excellent vantage point of the plain below.

the-scholar.pngWe reached Exton in plenty of time, so we stopped to look around the church of St Peter and St Paul. All the guide books draw the visitor's attention to the carving of the Angel of Death summoning The Scholar from his books, but for me the most impressive part of the interior was the stunning painted Tree of Life around the main windows in the chancel. Equally impressive - but from a practical rather than artistic standpoint - was the precarious ladder balanced on a beam running across the nave that provided access to the bell-tower. It would take nerves of steel to climb, particularly with that Angel waiting below.

Posted by pab at 16:50 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!