Festival will show off the great walks around our area

Nigel Rigden

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LOSE yourself in some of the most stunning countryside during a festival of walking.

The South Downs Society is a voluntary organisation which works to conserve the hills, valleys and winding lanes of the Downs – from Hampshire to East Sussex.

To open the beautiful countryside up for everyone it has put together a programme of walks which can all 
be reached by public transport.

They range from six-mile jaunts beginning in Hambledon to 15-mile hikes setting off from Petersfield Heath Pond.

They are all only a bus or train ride away to try to limit the dependence on cars and help the environment.

Jane Major, from the society, said: ‘Planning a visit to the Downs could not be easier. The Downs are well served by public transport and by using the train or the bus you will see more, have more fun and not be tied to seeking out car parks.

‘What’s more if everybody takes the bus or the train the South Downs will stay beautiful forever.

‘The festival is now in its third year and each year it has been more successful.

‘Each of the walks and strolls included is led by an experienced walks leader from the South Downs Society.

‘So, check out the bus or train timetable, put on some sturdy footwear, bring a drink and a waterproof jacket and join a group of like-minded country lovers for an enjoyable time on our glorious South Downs.’

The festival runs from September 15 to 29.

Here are a few of the walks:

n September 16 – Meet at Haslemere Railway Station at 10.35am for a nine-mile walk to High Barn Farm

n September 19 – meet at Queen Elizabeth Country Park at 11am for a six-mile walk to Ramsden returning via Butser Hill. Buses go from Havant bus station, Waterlooville or Petersfield.

n September 20 – Petersfield Pond, the west side, at 9.15am.

A 15-mile walk taking in Buriton, Butser Hill, Langrish and Stoner Hill. Catch a bus from Petersfield town centre.

n September 21 – Hambledon Parish Church. A six-mile walk which takes in the historic Bat and Ball pub. The village is served by the 45 First Bus from Portsmouth city centre.

The society is currently offering a discounted membership.

To see the full list go to southdownssociety.org.uk or call the office on 01798 875073 between 9am and 1pm Monday to Thursday.