Day 31 to 34 – Wiltshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Sussex
The day in Wiltshire was hot and sunny. I escaped Dorset as quickly as possible via Weymouth and headed to Salisbury and on to Amesbury. I’ve been to Stonehenge loads of times, usually for the summer solstice, so I thought I’d give that a miss this time. However I’d never been to Woodhenge so I thought I’d give that a go. Woodhenge is basically a bunch of concrete posts indicating where post holes were excavated some time ago. The posts make up a series of concentric ovals (is there such a thing as concentric ovals?) around a central space. They’ve gone to the trouble of colour coding the ovals so you can see how they relate to each other. I Know that they say they are not roof supports for a large hall but I can’t help thinking that if you only had small spans you might need this many posts (2553 total miles).
Berkshire was a bit empty of things to do so after checking the tourist web sites and finding not much apart from things related to the royal family I checked the English Heritage book and found the only thing I could do was visit the only castle they list for Berkshire. Donnington Castle, not to be confused with Castle Donnington in Derbyshire where there’s also a race track, is a medieval gatehouse, all that remains of a castle on a hill near Newbury. Interestingly the ruin is from the late 14th century, the same date as Bodiam Castle in Surrey that I visited later and apparently a similar size. Bodiam is much more complete, though, and prettier to boot. I ended up camping in Lambourne (2629 miles) where I spent the night in a stable on a previous trip some 25 years ago. Oddly I had always thought Lambourne was in Wiltshire.
After needing a jump start to get the truck started in Lambourne (details to follow in the book) it took me most of the day to get to Hampshire so my plan to visit the new Mary Rose exhibition was scuppered by lack of time. My plan to visit the Isle of Wights was scuppered by a lack of a spare 70 quid for the return fare. A friend had suggested I visit Porchester Castle so at the risk of castle overload I discovered it was ten minutes away so I headed over there.
Porchester Castle is a Roman fortress adapted into a medieval castle and then into a prison during the Napoleonic wars. The interesting thing about the place is that they have replaced some of the floors in the keep so you can see what it was really like in the great hall and other parts of the keep.
After camping within yards of the nudist beach in Southsea (2711 miles) I set off for Sussex. I’d thought to head for Hastings but it was just a bit too far and the roads along the south cost just a bit too like motorways, so at Chichester I dropped off the motorway to take a look at the cathedral. Cathedrals are always a good reserve option and I spent a fine couple of hours wandering around and looking for the entrance to the crypt. I didn’t find it. Leaving Chichester I ended up on the sea front at Worthing with my ukulele slung across my back hoping to find some place on the beach where I could sit and practice my three chords. Unfortunately the sea breeze was so strong that there was nowhere suitable that would have been out of earshot of the public. Call me a romantic, I wanted to sit away from everybody, in splendid isolation away from people on the beach, not where people were walking thinking I was a bad unlicensed busker (2763 miles).