Serpent Trail: Haslemere to Northchapel

Today's walk was planned rather at the last minute - in the half hour or so in the morning between when I woke up and when I headed out for the day. Having made several forays down towards East Sussex recently, I thought instead I might aim for Hampshire today. So I bought a ticket to Petersfield, but actually got off one stop before at Haslemere. Which is actually in Surrey. Then I ended up walking over the border into West Sussex.

So I didn't really get to Hampshire after all, but despite the haphazard planning, I ended up having a lovely walk today. I followed the Serpent Trail out of Haslemere, which led me to Blackdown - the highest point in Sussex - and descended the hill from there to end my walk at the curiosity filled Half Moon Inn in Northchapel.

The Serpent Trail starts without much ceremony in Haslemere. There was first a diversion away from the road just after the town centre - a little track follows round the backs of the houses and passes Swan Barn Farm, a small National Trust property.

After this it crosses back over the B2131 and heads out into more open countryside. From here, and I think for most of the way to Blackdown, it's a Bridleway, and at least some sections of it would probably make for quite a pleasant bike ride.

The next section of the trail skirted along the edge of a woodland, and passed several equestrian properties. The weather for this bit of the walk was mixed, with patches of light drizzle interspersed with blue skies, and consequently a rainbow off in the distance. The horses didn't seem particularly impressed.

Later the trail crossed the Surrey / West Sussex border, although the only indication of this was these wheelie bins, which had the logo of Chichester Council.

After the undramatic border crossing, the track met a small country lane, and the route of the Serpent Trail followed the lane for a while. Although I'm usually a bit averse to walking along roads, this one was actually a delight - not a car in sight, and a lovely wintery light shining through the trees lining either side of the road.

The country lane brought me to a little car park, which served as the "entrance" to Blackdown (although I suppose I had been walking up the side of it for a while). I could also see from there the start of the track leading to Aldworth, the house where Blackdown's former owner Tennyson had lived.

I headed through the woodland atop Blackdown towards the "Temple of the Winds" - a famous viewpoint - but possibly a nicer view today was to be found on the eastern side of the hill (see also the picture with the bench at the top of this page) - there was a particularly beautiful soft winter light here at this point of the day.

I took the opportunity whilst continuing my walk along the top of Blackdown towards the Temple of the Winds to memorise a few lines of Tennyson.

On arrival at the Temple of the Winds, being more southerly facing here, and given the time of year, the light was a bit challenging here to take satisfying photos - particularly to the south west. Still, it was a nice spot to sit and rest for a little while and soak up the atmosphere.

Here's a panorama to illustrate.

A selfie at Temple of the Winds. I look a bit contemplative here, even slightly glum, but I was actually having a lovely time!

I took a shortcut down from the Temple of the Winds, following a path not marked on the OS map to the little car park at the bottom of the hill. I had decided I'd walk more or less due east from there, to Northchapel, a little under an hour away.

I passed this swing in a tree in the corner of a field, which, based on the writing on the edge of the swing, I assumed must have been part of somebody's wedding celebrations. I thought this was a lovely idea - there must be a nice view from that spot.

Most of the rest of the walk to Northchapel was through fields, and didn't have the drama of the section along the top of Blackdown but I suppose was pleasant enough in its own way.

I arrived at the Half Moon Inn t Northchapel at almost exactly 1pm. It's a pub I had discovered from a British Pathé video from the 1950s on YouTube. They made a point about it being filled with curios and nik naks and I was delighted to see that this is still the case today.

A selection of photos to get a feel for the place. A really lovely old fashioned pubby sort of pub. Exactly my sort of thing.

Here's the video so you can see for yourself that it hasn't changed much!

I hadn't given much thought beyond the pub to how I would get back home again, but in the end just took the lazy option and called a taxi company based in Haslemere to come and pick me up. This worked pretty well - it's only a 10 or 15 minute drive away.