Sarah Coles


Maybe days of long distance walks are over – Bob is nearly 91 and I don’t like to leave him too long – besides, I can’t do more than eight miles a day or rather, it feels too much, it ends being a weary tramp.  Anyhow, during the Covid years, 2020 and 2021, it was only local walks, and now the pubs have reopened, what could be better than ending at a pub with Bob there to take me home?  Sometimes I take a bus to the starting point.  Sometimes Bob leaves me somewhere, and I get the bus back to Alresford.

What has transformed my walking is the app Outdoors GPS.  Wherever I am, my iPhone shows a detailed map of where I am, the paths, everything.  I am still excited, love naming tracks I cross (Honeyman’s Lane, Jenny Green’s Lane) but especially, I never need get lost again!  I shall have the nerve to negotiate uncertain paths miles away.  £19 a year.


  1.   Brushmakers Arms, Upham, and the Alma, Lower UphamA lift to Cheesefoot Head.  Hampshire spreads before us, layers of blue, hazy in the distance.   Ancient country, downland with sheep, except for two distant tractors spewing clouds of soil.  Topsoil strewn with flints, white, grey, pale blue, dark cloud, yellow.  It seems amazing that crops grow.  Chimneys of Fawley power station are pale blue pipes.South along a descending track into woods, mostly beech, with roots like knobbly knees on the dense chalk soil.  April: stitchwort, anemones and bluebells.   Beyond, fields of golden rape waft their scent – if a perfume was made, what might they call it?  Rape! Curves of the chalk hills intersect, patchworks of greens and brilliant rape yellow.Along the hedgerows a pair of brimstones flutter in a double helix, male yellow, female so pale she could be mistaken for cabbage whites.  Now lots of them, yellows and whites.Near Owlesbury we’re into horsiculture, fields of horses and immaculately jodpured (they always are) young women caring for them.  One is fitting a coat over her horse, and I wonder why.  (Lucinda later tells me it’s to stop flies burrowing beneath the skin – ?) She’s not wearing one herself, nor am I.  Climb up the Allen King Path, which intersects with the Monarch’s Way.  The monarch was Charles II fleeing to the south coast, desperate for France.  As for the regal sounding Allen King, who he?At Owlesbury into the Brushmakers Arms, barmaid says they are busy and short staffed – the place looks rather empty  – so I have a half pint of cider and look at the pewter jugs on the beams, the wood burning stove and the brushes, besoms and brooms of all sizes.  Think of them gathering birch twigs to bind.  It’s no longer a true pub, it’s a gastropub shut on Mondays and Tuesdays, for people who want drive to a sweet village to eat well in this rural museum.  No matter!  How else could the place survive?  Remember when we were lucky to get a pickled egg at a pub?Through the village of Upham with its church, ancient outside but inside Victorianised, flint houses and smart houses, Upham Manor, Upham Place, Upham House, pond with duckhouse.  Walk to Lower Upham with its eclectic modern housing.  Across the hurtling Portsmouth Road, and into the Alma, a true roadhouse – nothing twee here, modern, open every day at all hours and a fat barmaid calling me ‘my lovely’ every other sentence.  She pulls a half pint of cider and brings a strawberry sundae.    Bus 69 to Winchester, then 64 to Alresford. 






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