Michele has lived in Midhurst for almost 15 years...
... but has been familiar with this part of the South Downs most of her life. Born just over the border in Hampshire, Michele had a clear view of Butser Hill from her parents' home, and from her classroom window at school. Growing up, Michele remembers going on Sunday afternoon walks with her family, always holidaying in the UK, and being taught how to read maps by her Dad. This, and the fact that her family didn’t own a car, is how she developed a deep appreciation for her local surroundings and learned how to make the most of what was right on her doorstep.
Back in the 1980’s Michele’s aunt and uncle lived in Stedham for a time. A regular visitor with her grandmother, Michele remembers walking from her aunt’s house on The Street down to Stedham Mill, loving the sights and sounds of the countryside. She also recalls being totally happy walking by herself, despite being somewhat scared of passing by what was then an overgrown and uninhabited brick and timber property, called Tye Hill.
Michele’s connection with the outdoors
Michele moved to Berkshire in the late 1980's and then to London, always following the same pattern of discovering walking routes in her local area. Whilst studying and working in Reading and East London there were plenty of parks, canals and riversides to enjoy as well as national trails such as the Ridgeway, the Capital Ring and London Loop. Even when exploring further afield on travels in Europe, Africa and America, the one constant in Michele’s approach was her desire to see what she could find right outside her front door.
Moving to Midhurst gave Michele her biggest opportunity to walk right from her back gate into huge expanses of woodland, heath and farmland. She marvelled at how far she could walk from her home without encountering a major road or town, on many occasions she hardly even sees other walkers. Over the years Michele has become adept at working out walking routes by studying 1:25,000 scale maps. It is the first thing she buys when planning a holiday. “Online maps are useful when you’re actually out walking” says Michele “but there’s nothing better than a paper version when you’re planning a route.”
Photograph by Judi Lion
A Keen Amateur Photographer
Michele has been a keen amateur photographer for the last 8 years or so, using her camera to document what she sees when out walking. With her passion for walking and sharing her love of the countryside with others, it was only a matter of time before she came up with the idea of writing a book. Unsurprisingly, her first book documents all the walks she regularly takes from her home town of Midhurst. It takes her readers on journeys to the north, south, east and west of the town’s Market Square, sharing less well-known routes as well as insights into the town, it’s history, culture and community.
A second book is due early next year
It will take readers a bit further afield, but still no more than 30 minutes drive from Midhurst. Michele’s commitment to sharing the beauty of her local area remains constant. Enjoying the countryside in a sustainable way, recognising that you don’t have to travel far to see amazing wildlife and scenery, and above all keeping our network of footpaths open for future generations. These are the passions that drive Michele to get out of bed, get outdoors and celebrate the good things she sees all around her.