Beacon Hill - wet, windy but worth it?

Looking through the rain to Beacon Hill in the distance
Beacon Hill, Near Highclere, Saturday 4th Jan 2014

"Why?" I asked myself as I pulled off the A34 after a 30 minute drive from Romsey in heavy rain and pulled into the flooded car park at the foot of Beacon Hill.  "Why would anyone choose to walk in this weather?"

I'm not a fair weather walker really but there has to be a point for wandering up a hill in the wind and rain amidst some of the worse weather we've seen in a while, and there was; 2 of my colleagues (Jodie & Emma) from work who are planning to attempt the 3 Peaks challenge later in the year wanted to "walk up a hill" somewhere close by as driving to Wales (the closest proper hilly area to us) wasn't possible this weekend - and Beacon Hill was the closest, highest and easiest to walk up and around.

The sign of things to come?!
It's not a particularly high hill standing at only 261m but it's fairly high for Hampshire, being a flat ish county with its highest point standing at only a few meters more, and is both a walk you can do straight from the car with easy access to main roads and has the added benefit of a nice circular walk around the old earthworks of Beacon Hill Camp built around 1000BC.

The whole area is home to a variety of ancient earthworks, forts and Bronze Age barrows as well as the tomb to George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon famous for uncovering Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 with Howard Carter. 

The walk itself (as you can see in detail from the Social Hiking & ViewRanger log at the end of the post) was fairly short; 2.3km with an altitude gain of 134m.  Walking around Beacon Hill was more so that Emma could start to assess her fitness as she's not done much/any hill walking before - a warm up to our trip to Pen-y-Fan in a few weeks time.
It was certainly a test for waterproofs and balance on the muddy, chalky slopes if nothing else!

Montane Fast Alpine Stretch Neo - amazing jacket
Being such a short plod up, around and back down the hill I didn't take anything with me apart from waterproofs and phone to record the trip on ViewRanger and I decided to give my new Montane Fast Alpine Stretch Neo Jacket a proper test in the elements and I'm pleased to say that it stood up very well.

I'll be writing up a more detail "first impressions" blog on the jacket soon but in summary the build quality is fantastic and as I normally run very hot when walking I've been really impressed by its breathability - a quality that is often claimed by many waterproof garments but, for me anyway, is not always as good as I'd hoped for.

Full route and stats on Social Hiking, recorded on ViewRanger via GS4;


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