In my dad's book, "The Test Way", which was published in 1986 (22 years ago!!!), the start of the Test Way is listed as being at The Salmon Leap pub in Totton. Now I'd never even heard of this pub, even though I live on the outskirts of Totton and have done for years.
On checking Hampshire County Council's website, which has a large section on walks and cycle rides (including pub stops - not sure how this fits with the in-vogue healthy agenda!), I discovered that, since the book was published, the Test Way seems to have lengthened to cover a section between The Salmon Leap and Eling Tide Mill, which is around a mile from where we live. This instantly made the walk even more accessible for us, and it seemed like a nice plan to walk to Eling Tide Mill, then to The Salmon Leap and on to Romsey, where we could get on a train back to Totton and home.... no doubt following a meal stop in one of Romsey's pubs or restaurants.
However on Thursday, not much more than 36 hours before we were to hand the kids over to their grandparents for the weekend, Ellie complained at school of having a sore hip. Miche picked her up, took her to the doctor and then, on the GP's advice, on to A&E. An x-ray and three blood tests later and we were home. They couldn't find anything wrong with her although it took until 10.45 in the evening to tell us this. The kids were zonked and, although we didn't realise it at that point, our walk the following Saturday was already doomed.
The girls had been due go to Romsey Show, an local annual agricultural event, on the Saturday with their grandparents, but trolling around a showground all day did not fit with the doctor's instructions to rest Ellie's hip.
So the stay with the grandparents was off - they still wanted to go to Romsey Show - and so therefore was our walk. I have to say that we were gutted... we'd been really looking forward to it and, although in the end we had a great weekend with the kids, it's nice to take a break sometimes.
So in the spirit of keeping Ellie moving but not over-exercised, we decided to go and find The Salmon Leap pub and do the first 20 minutes of the walk, just to see what it was like. This felt rather like reading ahead in a book to see what might happen, and more so now that we knew that The Salmon Leap was no longer Chapter One, having been superceded by a new prologue.
Regardless, we did it anyway. To our amazement, we stumbled across a corner of our own local area that we'd never really been aware of before; part of the rich lanscape of unnoticed "things" in our peripheral vision, which our busy lives don't permit us to notice.