In the course of writing up The Games Way walking guide (available from all good olympic themed walking blogs) I realised there were one or two wrinkles in the walk that needed ironing out. I have been knocking these off one by one fairly methodically over the past few weeks, and last Saturday Felix and I set off to figure out the situation at Bentley and Bishop’s Sutton, which are in the middle of the walk along St Swithun’s Way.
When Felix and I last walked this bit of the route it was the Royal wedding, and we ended up camping in a copse bordering on the A31. Not, I hasten to add because Felix wanted to record the traffic, but because we were utterly knackered. I think we pitched the tent, ate some soup and then went to bed, sound asleep just after 9pm. Rock’n'roll lifestyles R us!
Whereas we had a good sleep and loved the walk to Farnham and beyond the next day (and did record some cattle!) I had a feeling that other walkers might be a bit underwhelmed by our little spot. This is why I was so keen to return and see if we could do better.
I was very keen to try walking with a full backpack to see how well my back has recovered from its fracture in the spring. Felix wanted to see if she could spin yarn and walk at the same time (as you do), and a pair of Brasher boots that I won in a Country walking magazine several months ago finally arrived and so need breaking in before I take them on The Games Way this summer. I rather foolishly gave away my old pair of expensive, good fitting, waterproof Meindls (that turned into a deathtrap on muddy hills) before the new boots turned up. Consequently I have been clumping around in an ancient pair of boots that I had fond memories of until I remembered that they weren’t waterproof and were designed to remove toenails after 10 miles.
So anyway, we set off from Bentley train station with rucksack and shiny new Brasher Hillmaster boots, and headed over the tracks into the woods where we found the most beautiful meadows full of wild flowers and grasses and the air thick with buzzing bees and butterfiles. It is a protected site of scientific interest and it is gorgeous. Most of the photos in this blog post come from here.
We had lunch at the Star Inn, an important part of the days research of course! Isn’t it great now that pubs are caring about where they source their ingredients? This place is a cracker – sweet beer garden out the back and organic food from a nearby farm. Oh and a beautiful summer pint from the FFF brewery a few miles down the A31.
After lunch we met a chap called Chris at Bentley Green Farm who has very kindly allowed us to pitch our tents at the bottom of his enormous garden, and will give us use of an outside loo and water supply. Brilliant! The setting is beautiful, you won’t be disappointed if you are doing this leg of the walk with us in the summer. We also found a much better spot for wild camping up in the woods, away from the butterfly meadow of course.
So having debugged the Bentley leg we went back to Bishops Sutton to check out Two Hoots campsite, a little way off the route but interesting because it has wooden pods you can hire for the night, each with a king sized bed which might be irresistable at this stage in the walk! It is a small site but in a beautiful spot and the owners were very helpful even though we caught them on their third attempt at leaving!
We walked back down to Bishop’s Sutton across crop fields and the Watercress railway line with its steam trains, and popped into The Ship to see if anyone was there that we ‘d met on the Royal wedding day (they weren’t) before heading home, with two legs of the walk sorted out and fit to go into the guide.
Come walking with us! Sign up now to take part in the first official walk of The Games Way starting on July 28th 2012. It’s free and you can bring your friends!
Join us for a day, a weekend or however long suits you. We’d love to share the experience with you.