Tuesday 21 May 2024

19/05/24 - The Long Compton Witches

Witches and Stone Circles

There are enough witches in Long Compton to draw a hay wagon up Long Compton Hill.

That's the saying from the olden days - right up to 1875. Within the cemetery at Long Marsdon church is the grave of Anne Tennant. Considered a witch by some villagers, she met a violent end. The story goes that in 1875, she was accused of witchcraft and subsequently killed by a local farmer named James Heywood. Heywood stabbed her with a pitchfork, believing she was responsible for various misfortunes in the village, including the illness of his animals. He  never tried to deny his responsibility, claiming several more witches existed in the village and it was his job to get rid of them all.

This is the story told in Episode 3 of the Loreman Podcast. A road trip to Oxford and we could incorporate a stop for a fine Cotswold walk that also takes in the third most important Stone Circle in England. Only Stonehenge and Avebury top trump it.

Here's the history, should you have a spare 10 minutes.

Parking up at the sports ground behind the village stores and heading out into the hills. Nothing spooky, just an aged but well maintained geocaching trail.

Heading out of Long Compton
Mrs M getting bored with Tupperware in bushes already

Little Rollright for a (popular) lunch stop. A remote church with two other sets of diners and a chance to explore inside. Extraordinarily well preserved tombs within.

Little Rollright Church
Resting Knight
Little Rollright Church
Memento Mori

Onwards and upwards for an Adventure Lab Cache to add a modern twist to the Bronze age standing stones.... 

The Whispering Knights
If a woman visits the Whispering Knights at midnight and listens closely, she may hear the voice of her future husband whispering to her.
Kings Men Stone Circle
The Kings Circle - Turned to stone by a witch and when counted, you never reach the same number
King Stone
The King's Stone - Other side of the road and said to grant wishes

Any beer on this walk Mappiman?

Long Compton has a single pub - the Red Lion. A classic Cotswold Gastro-pub, with a rather fine rear beer garden.

Red Lion, Long Compton
Red Lion, Long Compton

I'm not saying the Landlady is a witch.... she was actually very friendly. But a Goff's Jouster Bitter and a Eurofizz and lime at £12.20.  

Enough to set a rambler pricing up pitchforks on Amazon.

Walk Details

Distance - 6.25 Miles

Walk Inspiration - Locations from the Loreman Podcast, Episode 3 

Route Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine, December 2002, Walk 15

Geocaches - 9 and an Adventure Lab Cache 

Previous Loremen Walks - Churchill, Burford

Saturday 18 May 2024

18/05/24 - The Clifford Arms, Great Haywood

Varying it up on Cannock Chase and finding a Bass House

Cannock Chase - fine walking country but it can get a bit monotonous.

Cannock Chase, located in Staffordshire, is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that spans about 26 square miles. It features a mix of woodlands, heathlands, and valleys, providing habitats for diverse wildlife, including deer. The area is popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and horse riding, with well-maintained trails and bridleways. Historical sites include the German War Cemetery and Castle Ring, an Iron Age hill fort. Attractions like Go Ape and the Museum of Cannock Chase offer additional recreational and educational experiences. Conservation efforts are in place to maintain its natural environment and biodiversity.

This route solves any problems with boredom by including beautiful walking along the Sherbrook Valley, a short section of the Trent and Mersey Canal and returning through Shugborough Estate.

Cannock Chase
Cannock Chase - would be a dull day if it was just this
Sherbrook Valley
Walking alongside the Sherbrook - stepping stone crossing later on
Trent and Mersey Canal
Bargelife in the Trent and Mersey Canal

An Adventure Lab Cache provides a break in Great Haywood - a blue plaque cottage where Tolkien lived, a couple of churches and of course, the village local.

A lot to admire in the Clifford Arms - keen pricing, where a drink and a hot beef baguette gave more change from a tenner than a city centre pint. Bass proudly proclaimed as a permanent fixture, along with Timothy Taylor landlord and three other handpulls. A decision would have been needed to be made, should I have not been on pop.

Clifford Arms, Great Haywood
Surprised its not a GBG Pub - even if I didnt test the quality

 A lovely return across a C17th pack horse bridge to follow the Staffordshire Way through the grounds of Shugborough Hall.

Essex Bridge at Shugborugh Hall
Essex Bridge....
Essex Bridge at Shugborugh Hall
.... with the daytrippers
Shugborough Hall
Shugborough Hall, from the Staffordshire Way

Could the walk be improved?  Well, there was an ice-cream van at Milford Common Car Park. I would say "No!"

Walk Details

Distance - 8.5 Miles

Geocaches - 4 and an Adventure Lab Cache

Walk Inspiration - Jarrold 14, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Heart of England.  Walk 17

Monday 13 May 2024

13/05/24 - Pagham Harbour, West Sussex

RSPB Coastal Walk and Gruesome Art from 1537

Better than expected weather, so a final walk in West Sussex. Planned in a hurry and after a tense Championship Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg that involved much nail-biting and no goals. Baggies go again on Friday.

We start at St Wilfrid's in Church Norton. A seemingly forgotten corner of little England that contains treasures if you look closely.

Not much on the actual walk - lane walking, through a new estate where the found GPX doesn't match my aging OS Map but turns out completely navigable and to the English Coast Path. Whereas the Witterings properties were all mansions, the residents of Selsey are converting ancient railway carriages.

The view is the same.

English Coast Path at Selsey
English Coast Path Markers (and route directions)
English Coast Path at Selsey
Shingle beach at Selsey

A short stretch on the Southern coast of Pagham Harbour - an RSPB nature reserve.

A multi-cache allows for exploration of St Wilfrid's - a tiny chapel, that was once part of a much bigger church. Victorian worshipers from Selsey stealing the main church for the greater demand in town.

St Wilfrids, Church Norton
Doors Open Church - for Inner Exploration

Inside, sparsity but tucked away in a little corner is a religious carving dating back from 1537. 
Martyrdom of St Agatha
The Martyrdom of St Agatha

In the interests of keeping my blog without the adult tick, I am not going to describe what's happening here. However, there is an annual festival of celebration in Sicily. They have cake.

Sicilians celebration St Agatha
Sicilian's capturing the mood in perhaps too jaunty a fashion

Close the door with a shudder and head for lunch at the Old Piggery Farm Shop. 

St Wilfrids, Church Norton
Enough grim medieval art

£15 for a crab sandwich, but we do get to see the owners collection of Rolling Stones memorabilia from his time with the band. Art work all over the walls, the odd guitar and what cannot be fitted in main restaurant is in the ladies loo.

Old Piggery Farm Shop, Selsey
Properly put Mrs M off her tinkle

Walk Details

Distance - 3.5 Miles

Walk Inspiration - Possibly OS Maps or Komoot download

Geocaches - 2

Sunday 12 May 2024

12/05/24 - The Pubs of Wittering, West Sussex

Missing Out on Rock and Roll Folklore

A walk between the Witterings......  

East Wittering - Bucket and spade shops. Topless men with tattoos, carrying boxes of Madri to the stony beach. The town sport seems to be endlessly riding a pony and trap up and down the High Street. Topless. With tattoos.

West Wittering - The beach is sandier, broader and the family patriarchs are fully dressed.

A pub at either end.

A walk between the two is found on Komoot. Along the English Coast Path, checking out more superb housing stock and considering why people who have curtains don't use them. Our favourite - a couple of old dodderers in one of the undeveloped original "shacks" breakfasting in bed in their PJs. I suppose if you have view, you should maximise it.

English Coastal Walking
English Coast Prom Walking

An optional loop of the Dunes at the estuary. Marked as National Trust on the map and plenty of instructions to not disturb the birds. Shade found as we walk up the estuary to loop back down Ella Nore Lane.

The Dunes at the Spit, Wittering
The Spit in sandy West Wittering

Chichester Estuary Views
Sailing on the Chichester Estuary

Pub 1: The Witterings. Centre piece of West Wittering Village, we catch it at opening time, waiting for the official scrape of the midday bolt in their suntrap garden.

The Witterings, West Wittering
Team Mappiman deciding whether its open or not
The Witterings
Our drinks show it is

A little of what you would expect from a holiday pub. Arbitrary rules, like only food ordered from the outside menu can be eaten outside. Food from the indoor menu must be eaten inside. Lunatics, who would eat a Sunday Lunch in the mid twenties sunshine, possibly needing protecting from themselves.

Onwards with the walk, where we head South back to the beach. A little bit more planning and I could have brought you tales of Marianne Faithful arrested in nothing more than a fur coat, mars bars and asking the question "Who would break a butterfly on a wheel"?

Rock and Roll Folklore - Keith Richard's infamous Redlands

Instead, its Pub 2: The Shore Inn, East Wittering. We visited three times and its a proper little gold mine. A Good Beer Guide 2024 entry.... the full Sharps range and a couple of more interesting offerings from Hop Back and Langham Breweries. Possibly at least two cask hand pulls too many, based on the audience beverage preference.

The Shore Inn, East Wittering
East Witterings GBG 2024 Shore Inn

Friday evening saw a packed pub but with efficient service, encouraging outside table sharing with friends we hadn't met yet.

Saturday afternoon - a live band and all too much. Especially, when the drinks were served in plastic glasses. We legged it to the rather unique Pond Barn in Bracklesham Bay. I try and draw the line at plastic pints.

Sunday evening - a chance to see it once the tourists had gone and the local dog walkers felt confident to reclaim their local.

Walk Details

Distance - 7 Miles

Walk Inspiration - Komoot