It is with relief that I wave goodbye to January and we enter February. At this time of year the end of winter is only a few weeks away and when the sun shines it radiates a bit of warmth. Snowdrops and Catkins have started to appear and the days are becoming noticeably longer. The other thing that lifts the spirits is exploring somewhere new with a walking buddy.
Today I am heading out with Nigel, one of my regular walking partners. We meet up at the Lower Chute Club car park (SP11 9DU) (Grid Ref: SU308530) and plan to do a circuit from the village to the Hillfort at Fosbury Camp. After the recent mild spell it is a chilly start to the day and there is a bit of drizzle about so we get kitted up in waterproofs and then leave the car park and turn right along Hatchet Hill and very quickly take a footpath on the right which leads between gardens to reach farmland where we continue along the edge of a field heading towards Malthouse Lane.
At Malthouse Lane we turn left and continue into Upper Chute where we follow the road as it bends to the right soon reaching the Church of St Nicholas. Apparently there are records of a church on this site dating back to 1320, but this was almost completely rebuilt in 1869-72.
In the churchyard, close to the entrance path is an old water pump and trough.
From the church we continue along the road and then at the end of the graveyard wall we go through a gate on the right and head diagonally across a field to reach a gate where we turn right and follow a track heading east.
After crossing Dummer Lane we continue on the track.
The path turns to the left at a gate, the map now has it marked as Breach Lane (Track). We follow this to reach a junction with the Causeway, which was the route of the Roman Road between Winchester and Cirencester. After crossing the road I make a short diversion to walk along the field margin on the left and then briefly pop into the field to bag the Ordnance Survey trig pillar besides the Causeway. This is my 290th trig.
Returning to the track we continue to head north, soon we are walking besides Cleves Copse and the path starts to descend steeply and soon becomes fine sunken track. Such tracks are centuries old and their sunken nature has been created by continuous use by drovers and cart wheels.
At the bottom of the hill we turn left and walk through the small hamlet of Hippenscombe and continue along a track as it passes through fields in the attractive Hippenscombe Bottom.
The sun is breaking through and the rain appears to have blown over. So we make use of a felled tree trunk to stop for our elevenses and take the opportunity to shed our waterproofs. Refreshed we head off again still following the track which is now heading north and then sweeps to the left and continues through Hippenscombe Bottom to reach Scotspoor plantation.
At a junction of paths in the plantation we continue straight on with the fence line to our right, this leads us to a minor road where we turn right and walk about a two hundred yards before taking a track on the left going in a northerly direction towards Tidcombe Down.
We reach the southern edge of the open access land of Tidcombe Down and turn right at a junction of tracks to head downhill into Tidcombe. This is a cracking spot, Lynnie and I walked this section of track on a very hot day last June. It is a lot chillier today, but is still a great place to be.
It is now a steady descent into Tidcombe where we make a brief diversion to visit the 14th century church of St Michael.
From the church we turn right and retrace our steps for fifty yards and then take a way-marked path on the left which goes through a gate and descends across a field.
The path, which is not marked on the OS Map, leads to a track where we turn right and follow this soon passing besides fields.
When we reach a minor road we turn left and then very quickly take a footpath on the right which goes besides fields heading towards Beacon Farm.
On reaching the driveway to Beacon Farm we turn right and follow the track as it skirts around the farm buildings and then continues to pass Tummer Copse . At a junction of paths above Hippenscombe we look to find a way to enter the access land, but there is no clear way through the undergrowth so we go left and then through an open gate on the right which takes us along a track in a pasture field on the edge of the access land. We spot walking boot tracks so assume that although this is not marked it is probably a permissive path.
Entering another field the track continues along the edge of the access land and then we reach a point where we enter an area of shrubland and soon turn left to walk across the shrub to reach the Fosbury Camp trig pillar.
Whilst we are looking at the view from the trig a quad bike approaches across the field. We are aware that we are off the access land but are greeted warmly by the farmer who seems pleased to meet someone visiting his trig pillar. We chat about trigs, farming on chalk downland and the New Forest. We tell him the route we have walked and he seems content that we have walked along the edge of his field and he points the way to Fosbury Camp.
Resuming our walk we continue along the edge of the access land to reach a gate to Fosbury Camp, the gate has a sign on it reminding people to close it which reinforces our thoughts that this is a permissive route. Immediately we are in the ramparts of Fosbury Camp.
Our route will follow the southern edge of the ramparts but we decide to have a look at the ramparts on the left which lead round to a cracking Dewpond. These ponds sit on downland and have no flowing water supply, instead all the water comes from precipitation. They are constructed to provide drinking water for livestock.
Fosbury Camp is an Iron Age hill fort which covers an area of around 26 acres and sits on Knolls Down. There are cracking views back over Hippenscombe.
We follow the ramparts around to reach a footpath where we turn right and descend Knolls Down and follow the footpath along the edge of Oakhill Wood.
We reach a minor road and turn right beside a cottage and then fork right along a track heading towards Hippenscombe. We stay with the tarmac drive through Conholt Bottom until we reach a footpath on the left which we take and head diagonally back across Conholt Hill.
We ascend the hill to reach a minor road and after going through a kissing gate turn right along the road and stay with this to reach a junction close to the entrance of Conholt Farm. Here we take a footpath on the right which goes through a gate into Conholt Park.
The path follows a clear route as it descends towards a gate and then follows a fenced path which leads into Chute Cadley.
We continue along a minor road through the village to reach a green in Lower Chute.
Here we go right passing the Hatchet Pub and then fork left to go up Hatchet Hill and reach our starting point in the Club car park. It has been a cracking 14 mile walk and it won’t be too long before I return to this area for another walk.
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer 131 – Romsey, Andover & Test Valley
4th February 2022
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2022)