Walk along the South Downs Way (from Cheesefoot Head to Warnford)

SDW - moody and overcast
Continuing with the conditioning and training for the 3 Peaks challenge in June this year I'd planned a walk of around 10 miles for Emma and Jodie along part of the South Downs Way, starting from Cheesefoot head and finishing in Warnford (where we'd cleverly left a second car so that we could walk a point-to-point rather than circular route, but more about that later...).

Setting off around 8:30am the weather was cool, but without much in the way of breeze, and foggy but thankfully dry and the forecast for the day was (unlike weeks before hand) dry so although waterproofs were packed as a precaution they were lightweight (OMM Cypher) and there just in case.

We headed out of the small car park and on to the SDW trail heading NNE for a short distance before taking a right hand fork and crossing a small road before heading up onto Gander Down and then across the busy A272 by Holden Farm.
A long, muddy, trudge up hill
The path from here, and for most of the walk, is chalky and double track which although it was muddy and slippery is generally better than smaller footpaths and trails through fields which seem to be resembling bogs more than anything else after the endless weeks of rain.


Slightly random, but works for me!
From Holden Farm a nice stretch of path takes you across a number of fields and out into what feels like the middle of nowhere - the lack of traffic noise and other people (especially with the mist shrouded around us) made it feel very remote even though you are only a few minutes walk from the road.

We passed through a gate with an old bike frame propped up on top of a rotting tree stump and I couldn't resist a quick picture!

After passing through the gate next to the old bike we entered a field full of sheep, one of which had managed to get it's head and front legs totally tangled in the middle of a large thorn and bramble bush..  Well I couldn't leave it there so waded in to try and help.
5 minutes, lots of blood and scratches (mine, not the sheep) and some hacking with my knife later the sheep was free and charged off across the fields to re-join the flock pausing briefly for a quick look back and bleating noise that I took to be a "thank you"!


Hero? not sure about that but I hope the sheep appreciates the scars!
From here we picked up a small road (nr Mill Barrows and the Milburys Pub) and followed this for just under a kilometre before once again picking up the path and climbing slightly past Lomer Farm and the site of Lomer Village.


Everything looks better in B&W doesn't it
Another short road section took us to another small car park at the foot of the Beacon Hill reserve and we headed up to the trig point at the "summit" to have a brief refreshment stop and take in the views across the valley that were just becoming visible as the mist started to lift.


Em & Jodie at the Beacon hill trig point
Refreshed and refuelled we retraced our steps back down to the small car park and then picked up the SDW again to head out across the fields towards Wheely Down and the last 2-3km before Warnford and the end of our walk - or was it?!

Arriving in Warnford in a respectable 3.5hrs (17k in total) we were just about to walk into the car park of the pub where we'd left Jodie's car when she announced that she'd left the keys in the glove box of my car, which was parked 10 miles away at Cheesefoot head.  A number of choice phrases sprang to mind as did the words "off you go then, we'll have a pint!". Luckily we managed to get a lift back to my car and collect the missing keys - not before taking the chance to have a swift pint in the pub!

But despite the slight key mishap the walk was great.  Not too challenging in terms of distance or terrain and we really do need to get up into the mountains "proper" soon for some real 3 Peaks training but the weather held out, the scenery was lovely and the company was good - what more can you ask for?!



Full details of the route (slight hiccup; from the top of Beacon hill back to the SDW track is missing) recorded on my LG Nexus 5 with ViewRanger on Social Hiking - LINK

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