This month’s walk meanders through the New Forest in the south-west corner of Hampshire.
From Hale Purlieu the route heads north to arrive at Hatchet Green with its picturesque thatched cottages overlooking the village green. The stone sculpture by Paul Wilson was commissioned to celebrate the Millennium, as was the planting of one of the trees; the other tree commemorates the 40th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne.
From here the walk follows the Avon Valley Path for a couple of miles, soon passing Hale House and St Mary’s Church; the 34-mile Avon Valley Path follows the River Avon from Salisbury in Wiltshire, heading south through Hampshire to Christchurch Priory in Dorset.
The Palladian style Hale House was built by well-known London architect Thomas Archer in the 18th century. However, the manor of Hale dates back to at least the 14th century when Adam de la Forde was granted a licence to hold services at the manor.
St Mary’s Church, which dates from 14th century although it was altered and enlarged by Thomas Archer, contains many memorials to former owners of the manor, the oldest being to Sir John Penruddock (d.1600) and the most striking to Thomas Archer (d.1743) and his two wives.
After joining Moot Lane, take a short detour for a lovely view of the River Avon before continuing to Woodgreen, with its cricket pitch, thatched cottages, pub and a tea room.
Suitably refreshed, the final leg of the walk heads through trees of Godshill Inclosure, which was first enclosed in 1810, before heading back to the car park; published in Hampshire Life, June 2018.