28 July 2018: Purleigh to Hazeleigh Hall
Start point grid reference: TL 842 020
Six of us started on this walk from the car park of The Bell in Purleigh. While I was waiting for everyone to order their lunches, I started throwing a piece of wood for the pub’s dog to fetch. It thought this was tremendous fun and not only brought the wood back to lay at my feet but even on occasion on my feet.
We started by walking round the western end of the pub and then up through the church yard, stopping to look inside the church. My previous visit to the church was to attend the funeral of the owner of New Hall Vineyard; I didn’t get a good chance to look at it then. This time I was able to admire the paintings of Aaron and Moses and the stained glass window depicting John Wycliffe and John Keble. The church’s weather vane is in the form of a fish.
We left the church and walked through the church graveyard opposite, which led us to the top of New Hall Vineyard, where the vines have not yet matured. There is a sign here warning walkers that “Harmful chemicals and heavy machinery is in constant use.” I thought that was not very welcoming, seeing that we were on a public footpath. We saw no evidence of either chemicals or heavy machines.
The footpath skirts the left-hand side of the vineyard and goes down to meet Baron’s Lane. It continues on the other side of the lane, joining with the concrete drive up to New Hall before leading past the vineyard buildings (with further warning signs).
Shortly after New Hall the path veers left to go diagonally across a field. It is not easy to spot but head towards the gaps in the hedges and you should pick it up.
The path eventually leads past the riding facilities as Hazeleigh Hall. I was struck by the weather vane there, which is in the form of a pheasant. (See the photograph.)
Once past this we turned left along a metalled road. At the bridleway sign we turned on to the bridleway, only to immediately turn right to climb over a stile into a field, making our way to another gap in a hedge where we negotiated another stile.
From there we walked diagonally left across the field and then round the field boundary until we met another path leading south. We took this as far as Spar Hill Farm, where we stopped to drink the water we had brought with us.
We all found ourselves different places to sit. Another walker and I sat on a couple of concrete blocks just the other side of the farm gate. It was obviously my day to befriend animals, because a cat appeared to greet us and became bold enough to get up onto my lap. I put it back down on the earth. It then went to find some shade under a parked vehicle.
A few yards further on the path brought us out to the B1010. Here we turned left and walked along the road for a while. (There are some very attractive houses along here.) We turned right again at Lodge Lane. I noticed that someone’s birch tree looked dead, just as ours does at the moment. They must all have been affected by the unusually dry and hot weather. We will have to see whether they come back to life again next Spring.
We took a bridleway to the left, which went up through trees, so at least we were walking in the shade for a while. At the end of the bridleway we turned left into Mill Lane and then returned to the pub via the village green and the churchyard.