This trail originally took us five scouting trips to put together and changes a little bit every time we visit. The hike covers a wide range of countryside scenery, including country trails and lanes, pine forests, orchards, farmland, a reservoir, the Stonewall Village, and a chicken farm, and we may see some shepherds rambling about as well.
We'll start off following a lane up to a small village nestled in a valley. From there we will follow a patchy trail over the hill to the Stonewall Village, named for the rocks on the bare hill that protect it from northerly winds – some say it looks a bit like Dartmoor in England. (We once had a fellow on the hike who knows Dartmoor, and he said it looks nothing like Dartmoor. We welcome further feedback on the topic.)
Branching off the lane that leads away from Stonewall Village is a hidden trail that will soon lead us to a clear path through the pine forest. The forest floor is has a thick covering of pine needles, and villagers often come to the forest to collect firewood. On one of our scouting trips we lost the trail, but after following the sound of breaking twigs we found a few farmers collecting firewood, and they were able to get us back on track. One one of our more recent visits, we found the trail blocked off by a big stack of cut branches and had a wee off-track adventure getting around and back on the trail. Sometimes there are locked gates, too! Over the years we’ve learned all the ways to get on the path to the top trail.
The trail (eventually) leads out of the forest and follows a zig-zag path past an aqueduct and through farmland, and we’ll then follow a paved path to the ‘top trail’ and one of the higher peaks in the area. There are some great views to be had at this point, and it's not likely we will see many people about.
From the peak we’ll hike into and out a valley, cutting through a birch plantation on the way and following narrow roads to the shepherds track that will take us up to the rim of ‘The Bowl’, another of the landmarks on this hike. After a few ups and downs along the rim of the bowl we’ll hike out a long valley to finish.
This walk is quite long, but it's not difficult – aside from the hike up the ‘top trail’ there is not a lot of climbing up and down. The views are excellent, and the sparse population makes it a very peaceful area to walk in.
Note: the trail could get rather brushy in places – we recommend you wear trousers to protect your legs.