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Saturday 27th July 2008
East Meon - Winchester Hill - Butser Hill - East Meon
~14 miles

This was the first walk we were able to travel to using the newly fixed bike, so to make the most of it we followed the A272 the 50 miles across West Sussex and into our neighbouring county of Hampshire. This is the most westerly realm of the South Downs and Gill's mum is buried below them, 3 miles south of the beautiful village of East Meon. We parked at the pub at East Meon and set off west to the stunning nature reserve at the 3000 BC Old Winchester Hill Fort. The whole days walk was dominated by many species of butterflies, and here on the reserve the star of the show was the beautiful Marbled White.
After the reserve we travelled south east to the Sustainability Centre at Cross Dykes where the natural burial site is also to be found. The site has now become overgrown with indigenous plants and trees and is rapidly returning to nature. The holly tree that Gill's dad planted on the grave is doing very well despite being nibbled by the local deer. As is our habit, instead of flowers, we put something on the grave that would also be enjoyed by the deer, this time it was a bunch of carrots!
Then it was onwards to Butser Hill, an SSSI and a National Nature Reserve. By now the intense heat of the day was getting to us and we made use of some shade to take a bit of a rest. When we finally managed to pick ourselves up we headed back to our start point through woods, fields and along the River Meon. On the way we were met by a swarm of bees that was in a hurry to take up new lodgings somewhere.
The temperature today made this long walk very strenuous and by the time we got back to East Meon we were very tired and dreaming of cold cider. Mercifully they had Stowford Press on tap. The evening was stunning and the ride back home was a real pleasure, although I think Gill was nearly asleep on the back.

East Meon church. It's unique steeple is visible from nearly the whole walk.

The 1000 year old marble font with Viking overtones

The holly on Mum's grave

The natural burial site has nearly returned to nature

Old Winchester Hill Fort

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea). They were constantly in motion and very hard to photograph

Burnets mating

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Wild Marjoram was growing everywhere today and smelt fantastic

A view down the impressive valley at Butser Hill