Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Hurstbourne Tarrant to St Mary Bourne

Test Way

Walks following the long distance path through north Hampshire.

Inkpen to Combe
Combe to Linkenholt
Linkenholt to Hurstbourne Tarrant
Hurstbourne Tarrant to St. Mary Bourne

A clear blue sky beckoned me out for a walk. It has been the only opportunity recently and time is ticking away. I decided to add another segment to my exploration of the Test Way that runs through Hampshire from near Inkpen to Southampton. This section is roughly along the River Swift - nowhere near the River Test that is to the East of Whitchurch. Here is a map of the 9 mile walk

The Test Way goes through the village of Hurstbourne Tarrant - I included many shots of the lovely houses and church when I was there last year. Here is a view from the path looking over the valley.


I saw many late flowers on my walk. Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) was still in fine form on the border of a field.

Scarlet pimpernel,Anagallis arvensis

Signs of autumn were in the hedgerows: blackberries, haws, hops and here the bright red berries of white bryony (Bryonia alba) our only wild representative of the cucumber family.

White bryony,Bryonia alba

The Test Way takes you up high and through woodland before sloping gently down towards St. Mary Bourne. In a field, a horse was rolling around on its back.


Some wild flowers look just the same as if it was May or June as in the case of this Common Field Speedwell (Veronica persica).

field speedwell,Veronica persica

A little further along, a rather sad and disturbing sight - a rabbit with myxomatosis. It was still able to eat but it looks as if it can no longer see. It was in a nice warm position in the sun but I can't imagine that it will live that long. As it did not look as though it was suffering I did not have to take an agonizing view on whether to do the humane thing. It is easy to forget that myxomatosis is still around, after being deliberately introduced 60 years ago and at one stage wiping out 99% of rabbits.

myxomatosis rabbit,rabbit

I reached the very picturesque village of St. Mary Bourne . The eastern section before reaching the church has all the old thatched houses that give it its charm.

St Mary Bourne

The church oozes antiquity, it is of grand and heavy design, with a dark, atmospheric interior. There are very many items of interest - there is even a display case of local archaeological finds. However, for me with an interest in church fonts, it is the grand black marble font that takes the prize. It is truly spectacular for a small village church. The design on each side is different, the western side has pairs of doves. There are only about half a dozen such black marble fonts in the country, one I have seen is near Marlborough and the other at Iffley near Oxford.

black marble font,St Mary Bourne church

The church has some interesting murals, most are indistinct but I could not resist including this one. I can't help thinking of rantings on the Internet when I read it: "Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evill speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be yee kinde one to another and tender harted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32

mural,St Mary Bourne church

I headed back towards Hurstbourne Tarrant on the eastern side of the valley. My path led past what turned out to be a Woodland Burial Site at Breach Farm. It looked a nice spot for eternal rest, the ground had a very good range of wild-flowers including fairy flax, eyebright, heath speedwell, hop trefoil and here Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus).

Red Bartsia,Odontites vernus

I followed a complicated route of lanes and paths through farmland. Here and there were patches of flowers. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) flowers a very long time, I have it in the garden too

chicory,Cichorium intybus

Then an unexpected sight, just as I approached Binley I came across this armoured vehicle/tank, obviously loving maintained by an enthusiast!

armoured vehicle

Binley is a hamlet with a few old houses, including Binley Cottage, quite appropriately I have left some bins in the picture.

Binley cottage

I then followed more deserted tracks and paths. There were a good range of wild-flowers, including this white dead-nettle (Lamium album) with a bee.

white deadnettle,bee,Lamium album

Here is another view to give a taste of this area by this time it had clouded over - a little ahead of the weather forecast schedule.


Back at my starting point at Hurstbourne Tarrant, the yew tree in front of the church was planted with a large number of cyclamen which were making a fine display.


You may have noted a lack of fungi and butterflies. It would seem still a bit early for fungi and a disappointing number of butterflies - I saw about eight Red Admirals but only in the distance and a couple of small whites, despite it being a warm and fairly sunny day.