Chris and Ann Monarch's Way Sept 2020

 

During September – just before the weather broke – Ann and I walked a 75 mile section of the Monarch’s Way. We got the train to Romsey from Worthing and then joined the trail at Mottisfont Abbey. In the grounds of the abbey is one of the oldest Plane trees in Europe, dating back – appropriately – to the era when Charles II wound his ‘Monarch’s Way’ after fleeing defeat at the hands of Cromwell’s men at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The Mottisfont Plane tree is a sight to behold – stretching far above its neighbours and with a girth of 12m. When we saw it in September it was still decked in green foliage, but by now those leaves will be turning colour and falling, which must also be a beautiful sight to see!

Mottisfont Abbey Plane Tree
Mottisfont Abbey Plane Tree
Owlesbury Chest
Owlesbury Chest
Our route took us via Twyford, Warnford, Rowland’s Castle and Amberley. At Owlesbury we admired the ancient oak chest in the church and learned how the priest at the time of the Reformation was shot dead at his altar by a furious member of the congregation who objected to the priest’s insistence on performing the old, Catholic Mass. The parish saw an outbreak of the ‘Swing Riots’ in 1830 and several local men were transported to Australia as a consequence.

 

 

At Hambledon there is a memorial that proclaims that Hampshire village as the birth place of cricket, although Eartham in West Sussex also boasts the same distinction. It was near Hambledon that we stopped in a field and realised that all we could hear were natural sounds – no cars, no planes, and no farm machinery.
Hambledon Cricket Monument
Hambledon Cricket Monument

 

Finger post
Finger post

What a rude shock it was to be confronted by the M3 blocking our progress. Walkers reaching Horndean have to walk for nearly a mile beside this furious highway, cross a footbridge, and then walk another mile on the other side until they are opposite the point they started. It takes a while for the shock to subside but eventually you find yourself amidst dappled forest glades and the Satanic intrusion is soon forgotten.

 

The section of the walk between Rowlands Castle and West Dean is perhaps the most beautiful of all, combining open fields, rising downland, and ancient woodland. By the time we reached Amberley we were footsore but very pleased to have made such a wonderful journey in the last of the summer sun. We caught the train back from Amberley to Worthing and rejoined the pulse beat of urban living.

It is a walk to be recommended. There are plenty of good pubs en route and splendid views to behold. The entire route is 579 miles, making it the longest inland trail in the country. More information can be found at http://www.monarchsway.50megs.com/catalog.html