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37 of 1 million ‘Get Outside’ along The Watercress Way

group walk - get outside

The Watercress Way guided walk was part of the OS 1 million people Getoutside day Sunday September 30th 2018

The Ordnance Survey’s challenge to encourage up to a million people to get outdoors on the last day of September was taken up by The Watercress Way charity.

37 people and 9 dogs joined trustees Kim Adams and Clive Cook on a six-mile guided ramble in and around New and Old Alresford, taking in the eastern part of the newly formed 26 mile circular walk based on disused railway lines and historic rights of way.

The sun beamed down from a beautiful early Autumn sky as the group ranging from 4 years old to 80, put their best boots and paws forwards and moved off from their very appropriate starting point of the old Alresford train station, home to the hugely popular Watercress Line steam railway.

The group were given route maps and comprehensive notes on what they would see.

We paused frequently to hear the trustees give a potted history of the local geography and interesting and diverse history this place has witnessed and participated in.

Highlights were: French Napoleonic prisoners of war graves, a US military dog grave, Saxon Roods, Broad St sheep fairs, ghosts of Lidos past, the link to the Sargasso sea and the Eel house, Marrakesh style tanneries, the Pinglestone road running along the River Arle’s bed, Fob Down’s Romano-British settlement – now a beautiful new vineyard, the octagonal Toll house, ancient heronries and traditional watercress beds in Spring Gardens with their ‘Roke’ autumnal mists.

The circular route was designed to allow those that did not want to attempt the full six miles to wave cheerily goodbye and head back to the start via shortcuts and the route is now on the OS website for all to look up.

It included a diverse range of landscapes and vistas – from the man made visual and architectural beauty of historic Alresford, along rare chalk streams (only 300 such chalk streams globally), open down and farmland, sunken ancient Drove lanes and rich riverside meadows where army tanks practiced in WW2.

Tantalising vistas of the old Watercress Line were spotted at Seward’s Bridge and New Farm Rd.

The long term aim of the charity is to increase access to the old track bed, or as near as possible to it, to make a 7 mile safe walking, cycling and horse riding route from Alresford west to Kings Worthy.

The only hazard of the day was the family of swans near the eel house who provided an entertaining, if hissing, ‘sit in’ on the footpath!

The walkers made use of Amy’s wonderful wild bird food station by The Arle, purchasing nutritious pellets to replace toxic bread.

Whilst buzzards circled and mewed overhead, the keen-eyed of the group watched late season Speckled Wood butterflies and sun fuelled hornets swirling among the ivy flowers, whilst in the nearby water courses, native Brown trout and Grayling could be glimpsed through the limpid water against the gravel between the lazily curling tendrils of weed.

Some of the children in the group helped erect way markers on the new footpath sign at Drove Farm to encourage all to ‘getoutside’ for more than a day.

All the children were given a Watercress Way certificate to congratulate them on their participation in the walk

Three of the Charity’s sponsors from Alresford: The Globe, Horse and Groom and The Bell pubs, also contributed to the day, playing host to many of the hungry walkers.

The next event is indoors: A Quiz, with a Watercress Way flavour, at The Plough, Itchen Abbas on November 18th.

Details and tickets from the charity’s website or Facebook page

Clive Cook and Kim Adams

Comments received from the walkers afterwards:
• Thanks for the walk, really enjoyed it and appreciate your hard work to make it happen!

• Thanks Kim. We had a lovely walk and it was great to see so many people out and about!

• Hi Kim, thank you for a lovely informative walk today, we all really enjoyed it. We will definitely look out for the next one. Please email the certificate of attendance for our children and I can print them. Thank you.

• Thank you very much for helping to organise today’s walk – seniors, children and grandchildren and dog walkers all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we rounded it all off with lunch in The Globe-can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary!

• Thanks for organising the lovely walk today. I now feel much better informed about watercress, eels and the tin huts along the disused railway line.

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