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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Saturday walk - Fleet Circular - woods, heathlands and a canal

Length: 19.3km (12 miles) T=3.318
Toughness 4 out of 10

9.39 (Poole-bound) train from Waterloo (9.46 Clapham Junction) to Fleet, arriving 10.18.

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.

This walk had its debut (and its only outing so far) in September 2018 when seven walkers tried it out, one presumably being the walk author, so it is safe to assume it is new to all but six of us. There are also no photos of it on the website, but the walk directions talk of skirting the large pond by Fleet station (which I have passed by train since I was a teenager but never actually had a close look at) and then going through woods and heathland on the edge of military land. Intriguingly, the walk author admits that the GPX and written directions may be at variance on this section, which should give us something to talk about if we get tired of Brexit, Love Island and the coronavirus.

In the afternoon the map shows an alarmingly large section through suburban Fleet, but the walk notes insist that this is actually a sylvan delight along a pleasant canal and you hardly notice the houses.

There are several lunch options. One is after only 2.7 miles and so is a bit early. Another "a little further on" (it would be nice if walk authors could be more specific), The Tweseldown, involves a minor diversion. There is then the Windmill in Ewshot 5.5 miles in, which from its Facebook page does seem to offer a limited menu on Saturdays (with vegetarian or vegan options even). However the walk author reserves his warmest words for canalside Fox & Hounds after 8.4 miles, which seems to serve food all afternoon. Its website does say that groups of more than ten need to pre-book and pre-order their dishes by email, however, so try not to turn up in a great phalanx.

For tea the Fox & Hounds makes a good stop if you have lunched earlier. Otherwise there is a pub near Fleet station, and another one 10 minutes away on the northern side of Fleet Pond.

The fastest train back from Fleet is at 54 past the hour, taking just 40 minutes. There are also trains at 10 and 40 past taking 56 minutes. The more numerate among you will realise that the 40 past therefore arrives at Waterloo two minutes after the 54 past.


Sean said...

To put Walker's mind at rest, the GPX is consistent with the description of the 'Main route' at all times. Anyone willing to go off piste and try the 'Alternative route' in two or three places will be rewarded with a more interesting walk, but you'll need to keep your wits about you to get back on track.

The long canalside section was very pleasant in summer when the mature trees provided welcome shade and to some extent screened the nearby houses. But leafless trees in winter might not be quite so effective in blotting out Fleet's suburban charms and the road noise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you kindly for putting on a walk of a good, honest length. Light for walking til 5 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Yes. The 8milers need to be more ambitious. This is not a 'one hour lunch club' with some walking thrown in. Use two hiking poles to propel those limbs of yours through the mud. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 16.39: how can you not talk about the essential tea stop at the end? shame about the bits of walking needed to get from lunch to tea, really

Walker said...

N=27 and two dogs on this walk, on a day that started cloudy but was w=sunny-from-late-morning. Under such bright blue skies, and with the birds - robins, great tits, blue tits, nuthatches - chortling away, and with snowdrops, crocuses, and the occasional daffodil and celandine blooming, you could fool yourself that spring is round the corner.

Meantime, this made a great winter walk, being almost entirely dry underfoot. The start along Fleet Pond was very appealing, and while there was rather a lot of pine forest for the next three miles or so, the green fields near Ewshot provided a nice contrast. The long canal section still seemed very rural even in winter, with the trees bare but very stately, and increased birdsong through being in a residential area.

Earlier, we backmarkers had arrived eagerly at the Windmill in Ewshot to find it does not do food on Saturdays (and consequently was fairly empty). Lots responded to this news by pulling out sandwiches, leaving three of us to carry on for three more hungry miles to the Fox & Hounds (which we still reached by 1.30pm). There we found six faster walkers already dining, and were joined by one other, plus some sandwichistas for drinks. A top notch pub, this. Cheerful, efficient and the food super-delicious, the pumpkin gnocchi and vegetable chilli both getting highly commendeds on our table.

We left at 3pm for the last easy walk along the canal and pond to Fleet station, getting there at sunset. Around half the group repaired to The Station (inn) for drinks and puddings - again friendly and efficient. Most got the 5.54 train, but in absentia stargazeris (in the absence of Stargazer) I managed to inveigle two others into doing a further circle of the pond under a bright and sparkling full moon, which I found entrancing and to which they submitted with good grace. We finished in time to get the 7.10 “stopper” back to civilisation.

Oh, and one walker at Ewshot said he was walking to Farnham. What private griefs he had that made him do this, alas I know not: but on the map it looked like an interesting idea.