One of the nice aspects to living in Chandler’s Ford is it is easy to leave it! There’s the motorway network, being close enough to the local airport, the various main roads, the rail network, buses etc but the reason you might want to go is the fact we have on our doorstep a variety of local walks, which are ideal for anyone keen on walking, whether they have a dog or not.
One walk I take regularly with my better half and Lady, our new collie cross, is up at Jermyns Lane, Ampfield. (Pococks Roses and Hillier’s Arboretum are both on this road, which is just off the Straight Mile). It’s a 10 to 15 minutes run in the car but you do get right out into the countryside.
There is a wide track through the Jermyn Lane woods and the great thing about this is it is generally passable no matter what the weather. Much as I love walking the Monarch’s Way, this cannot be said of that particular walk.
We discovered the joys of walking at Jermyns Lane with Mabel and the picture below shows her on this walk.
The views are great and I’ve seen deer and bats here. (Deer varieties I know of here are red, fallow and Muntjak. Incidentally I have seen a Muntjak even closer to home. Sadly it was on the side of Hiltingbury Road and had been hit by a vehicle but I suspect the animal must have come through from Cranbury Park.).
The bats at Jermyns Lane seem to be the pipistrelle but I have also seen one of the horseshoe ones here. (You can’t mistake the shape!).
I’ve heard owls too (it’s difficult to miss them!).
I’d be surprised if foxes and badgers weren’t here too and there has been evidence of mole activity. (I just need to see evidence of weasels, water voles and toads to have the full cast of The Wind in the Willows here! The character of Ratty, despite the name, is based on a water vole, which sadly is so endangered now.
The tracks at Jermyns Lane are in reasonable condition (various potholes have been filled in recently so thank you whoever did that). The only thing to avoid at this time of year is going off the track unless you have very good wellies and don’t mind getting muddy, in which case you are in for a treat! Some of the side paths I am definitely leaving to the spring, depending on just how wet a winter we have. I’ve never been able to get on with wellies, preferring walking boots which come up to just above the ankle so there is a limit to how much mud I am prepared to wade through!
Lady, bless her, has taken well to having baths (unlike her predecessors, Mabel and Gracie, who loathed them). This I think is going to be just as well. Lady has taken to our long country walks very well indeed.
The Jermyns Lane track would be good for wheelchair users with decent tyres and a reasonable suspension as the path is nice and wide but it is not smooth tarmac. There are some slopes but the majority of the route is fairly flat. It is a popular area with joggers and cyclists and you can go from one end of the path to the Monarch’s Way path which can be picked up at Knapp Lane (off Chapel Hill which is near the Keats restaurant and St. Mark’s Church). This walk is about three miles long (from start to finish and back again). It takes me about 75 minutes to complete the circuit at what I would consider to be a medium pace.
The main downside is parking space at the start of the walk in Jermyns Lane is limited so we pick our times as carefully as we can and most of the time we can park up. (When we can’t, we go to the other end and park at Knapp Lane. It is rare, thankfully, we can’t park at one of them). The other gripe is with people who bag up after their dogs, but then leave said bags at Jermyns Lane. There are no bins here and these bags do not biodegrade. The best thing to do is to take the bag home with you and put it in your own bin. (There is a bin available just off Chapel Hill towards the junction with the main road if you want to use a public bin).
So why walk? Well, there are the health benefits, our dog needs the walk (but then again so do we) and physical exercise can help with mental well being. It can help the creative arts too. A break away from the desk can and does refresh the mind. Beethoven was renowned for his love of the countryside and it directly inspired him to write his Pastoral Symphony.
Why walk locally (or relatively so)? Easy access of course, it is always good to appreciate what you have to hand, and it’s a quick way of escaping the bustles of life for a bit. My parents originally came from London and it is one of the great ironies that they didn’t get to visit Kew Gardens until they’d moved to Southampton! So I am conscious of the need to try to make the most of what we have to hand.
I hope at some point to take Lady through Hocombe Mead, which is even closer to hand of course. Mabel and Gracie were not keen on the boarding but Lady is nimble and I don’t think she’ll have an issue with it.
I hope 2018 proves to be a good year for us all and, dog owner or not, if you like your walks I hope you have a good 12 months of very happy walking!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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