Friday, 29 July 2011

All Weather Walkers - Lower Froyle & Bentley


Wet Weather in Bentley

Words: Graham Le Clercq. Picture: Nick Mitchell

On Sat 16 July, the St Paul’s Fine Weather Walkers set off on a trip that Noah might have thought twice about, after so much rain, led on by Hugh Payne, the walk leader. Graham Le Clercq sets the scene….

This was a day to dispel any possible rumours that Fine Weather Walkers don't walk in the rain; well 11 of us anyway. In fact by the end we could have provided some useful gear test reports.

The village of Bentley, about 4 miles south west of Farnham, is where our walk started and finished. It has not changed greatly over the years still retaining it's post office. It is surrounded by mainly arable farmland. In recent years Bentley received considerable media attention through “The Village” programme which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 followed by several TV series.

As Hugh Payne, our walk leader, led us out of the recreation ground it was hard not to feel sorry for the locals preparing for the annual fete, particularly knowing the bad forecast.

We joined the St. Swithun's Way for the short stretch to the church then continued north through a lovely arcade of trees and uphill on our first farmland footpath then lane to reach the ancient Harrow Way, old even to the Saxons. We followed this west, dipping in and out of woodland, before turning south towards Lower Froyle as the rain intensified. There was a good view of the village as we descended towards the welcome shelter of some trees for our midway break.

Field paths that were until recently just dust had now heavily muddied our boots. We shared relief at being able to lose this unwanted weight in the long grass of a field and running water of a lane on the approach to Lower Froyle. This relief was short lived as climbing the muddy path to the ridge on Saintbury Hill gave us time to realise that this process was going to be repeated again and again. The view from the ridge was good though in spite of the rain. Heading down the other side and several changes of direction later we reconnected to the St. Swithun's Way for the fairly flat mile or so back to the cars.

Changing in the rain was great fun before heading off to The Halfway House at Bucks Horn Oak for an enjoyable relaxing hot lunch.

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