Rowlands Castle (2)


We have several walks photocopied from a book that we borrowed from the library decades ago. (Yes, that technically makes us pirate walkers. No, we didn't dress the part.) One of those is from a place called Rowlands Castle. We did the walk in 2006, but I felt like doing it again.

Mum and I got up early to make the epic two-hour journey (two changes of train) to Rowlands Castle station. Let me get this straight to begin with: there isn't actually a castle. Used to be, nine hundred years ago, but there's basically nothing left of it now. Instead there's a tearoom, a hardware store, and a Londis.

Stansted Park

After passing beneath the railway line and walking a short distance along a road, we crossed into part of Stansted Park's land. This area used to be the grounds of a stately home, but most of it was given to a charitable trust decades ago. Our route followed a woodland path uphill to the start of a beech avenue - there's a picture of this on our way back but, basically, it's a wide strip of grass a mile and a half long lined with beech trees. Nice - and apparently Pevsner rated it - but goes on a bit. Probably better on horseback.

We passed a lodge and walked down part of the drive. The walk didn't take us near the actual house, so we only saw that from a distance, but the lodge was impressive enough on its own.

Middle Lodge.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′18″N 0°55′44″W

After that we followed narrow lanes and tracks that led down through woodland to the edge of a village called Walderton. We thought it wasn't much of a village, but looking at the map I see now that the actual village is a little way distant, with just a few houses at the west end that we saw.

Tree cover.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′32″N 0°53′34″W

Then we briefly got lost, at which point another couple of walkers stopped us to ask for directions... Eventually we found the right stile and continued on the road to a nearby church.

Beehive graveyard.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′0″N 0°53′18″W

The church used to be a private chapel for the attached estate and is quite small. Somebody was inside cleaning, so we were able to look around.

1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′37″N 0°53′34″W
Stone alcoves to the right of the altar.
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO400 50°52′37″N 0°53′34″W
Nice roof.
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 50°52′37″N 0°53′34″W

We ate our lunch sitting on a bench in the churchyard.

Fenced-off grave with nettles.
1/60 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′38″N 0°53′34″W
Stone inside those railings (to Elizabeth Mary Someone).
1/60 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′38″N 0°53′34″W
Pretty tree.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′38″N 0°53′34″W
Blue hose.
1/30 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′37″N 0°53′34″W

Racton Monument

There wasn't a castle in Rowlands Castle, but on this walk there's something to make up for it: the Racton Monument, a very impressive folly which fell into disrepair a long time ago and used to be a meeting place for 'undesirables'. Best thing is that though it's probably dangerous, there isn't even a token effort at fencing it off. You can go right in there. Awesome.

Overall view. It's brick-built, with fake-medieval stone facing.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′47″N 0°53′52″W
There are smaller subsidiary towers at three triangle-points.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′46″N 0°53′51″W
When this had floors in, you could see all the way to Chichester Harbour from the top one.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′46″N 0°53′51″W
Tree silhouette. We think there probably weren't trees close around when it was built.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′46″N 0°53′50″W
From centre looking through one of the three edge towers.
1/30 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′46″N 0°53′51″W
Looking directly out from main tower.
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Another view up the middle.
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Branches from around and inside.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′46″N 0°53′51″W


Our walk description warned that the path could get muddy, and it did.

Muddy path containing random concrete block with iron pole.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 50°52′53″N 0°54′19″W

After a while we emerged on a road for a stretch.

Best sun of the day. (At least it was making an effort.)
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′0″N 0°55′44″W
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′4″N 0°55′48″W

Junkyard Farm

In residential areas, people tend to leave domestic appliances and furniture outside their houses. By comparison, farms - even reasonably prosperous-looking farms - seem to make a habit of giving it large. Obviously, I approve.

Let's start small with a few children's bikes.
1/30 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′0″N 0°55′55″W
Or a tire and some roofing.
1/30 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′2″N 0°55′58″W
But how about two portacabins and an exercise bike?
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′2″N 0°55′59″W
Or the picked-apart skeleton of an ancient tractor?
1/125 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′2″N 0°56′0″W
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′1″N 0°56′1″W

Rowlands Castle

We rejoined the beech avenue - halfway down, to the relief of our legs - and headed back into the village.

Beech avenue, plus Lightroom's best imitation of sunlight.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′25″N 0°57′5″W
Parish hall.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°53′26″N 0°57′48″W

Train home

Our journey back home - including one more change of trains than on the way - was unventful, but did include a half-hour wait at Weybridge.

1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO400
Side wall.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO800

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.