We have been home for a week following our caravan trip in Yorkshire and I have caught up with most of the gardening jobs so it is time for me to get in a full day’s walking. Since arriving home I have popped out with Crosby for a couple of hours each day usually covering around seven miles, but I feel the need to get at least one good walk of over fifteen miles in each week. So today I am heading out on my own to explore an area just over the county border in Hampshire.
The starting point for my walk is West Down Car Park located just off the A3057 on Coley Lane (Postcode SO20 6AZ) (Grid Ref SU383389). Leaving the car park I walk down to Coley Lane and take a footpath on the opposite side of the road to the left. At a fingerpost I turn right to follow the path towards Andover.
The path is now on the route of a disused railway line and to my left is the road bridge carrying the A 3057 over the former rail track.
This section of the walk follows what was the route of the Andover to Redbridge railway line. Opened in 1865 the line was apparently known as the Sprat and Winkle Line, the origins of which are unclear. Like many other railways built in the mid 1800’s it followed the route of a canal. The Andover and Redbridge Canal was completed in 1794 and operated for 63 years before the canal company decided the future was in railways. They changed the company name to the Andover and Redbridge Railway company and set about filling in the canal and laying tracks.
During World War I and II the railway was used to transport troops from their training camps on Salisbury Plain to the docks at Southampton and being a rural line also transported agricultural goods. It was one of the lines that fell victim of the “Beeching Cuts” and ceased to operate in 1963.
The footpath leads to a tarmac lane and I follow this heading towards the A3057, shortly before reaching the road I take a path on the left which goes under the road and then parallel to it to reach an attractive thatched cottage opposite Fullerton Mill. This former corn mill was originally built in the late 1700’s and sits aside the River Anton.
The road soon reaches a junction and I go to the right to continue steadily uphill. For the time being I ignore a footpath on the right opposite the entrance of Fullerton Manor. Instead I make a slight diversion to continue uphill beside the road to bag a trig point.
This is a very quiet tree lined lane and it is a steady ascent to the top where the trees stop and there are good views. But I have not come up here to admire the vista, I am after bagging the Fullerton Ordnance Survey trig pillar. Sadly this one sitting beside the road has been knocked over, presumably by farm machinery entering the field via the nearby entrance. It is a pity that whoever knocked it over did not take the time to put it back again.
From the trig I return down the hill to the footpath, now on my left, opposite the entrance to Fullerton Grange. This path takes a track across fields and becomes tree lined as it heads downhill to rejoin a section of the dismantled railway. At a junction of paths I turn right following a way marker for the River Anton Way.
I am not aware of having walked any of the River Anton Way prior to today. It is a ten mile route from Charlton Lakes to the north of Andover to West Down car park where I started today’s walk. Apparently the route crosses the River Anton seventeen times so is obviously never far from the river.
The footpath heads towards the river and then briefly goes alongside it. This is a tranquil spot, perhaps I should consider walking the whole of the River Anton Way one day.
The footpath turns to the left crossing the river via a footbridge. I pause to take in the beauty of this spot before continuing to a junction of footpaths where I turn right.
The footpath emerges from a copse and goes besides fields to reach the A3057. I cross and take a footpath on the opposite side leading onto Red Hill. It is now a steady ascent following the path uphill with wide ranging views.
Once over the hill the footpath descends to a minor road on the edge of Wherwell. Here I turn left and follow the road for a few hundred metres and then take a footpath on the right which leads to a wooden footbridge crossing the River Test.
There are a succession of bridges because at this point the river splits into a number of sections. I am soon on firm ground at the edge of Chilbolton Cow Common. This is open access land and there are a number of paths where folk regularly walk, however, I keep with the Test Way as it heads across the common towards a footbridge where true to the name of the common a herd of cattle are grazing.
I leave the route of the Test Way and take a path where a fingerpost points towards the Village Shop and Pub.
The path leads into the village of Chilbolton where I turn left and soon pass the Abbotts Mitre pub. When this pub first opened in 1924 on the site of the former blacksmiths and post office, it was known as the New Inn. It kept that name until 1969 when it was renamed the Abbotts Mitre.
I keep going through the village to reach the 12th century church of St Mary-the-Less, apparently this unusual name came about because in the 1400’s St Peter’s Church in nearby Andover was rededicated to St Mary. This made two St Mary’s churches in the same deanery so to distinguish them the Chilbolton church being smaller was named St Mary-the-Less. The interesting spire was erected in 1872.
From the church I return to a grass triangle and take the lane (Winchester Street) heading south out of the village signposted to Newton Stacey and Barton Stacey. At a road junction the lane I am on sweeps to the left and heads east to pass Gravel Hill Farm.
On reaching a cross roads I go straight over to follow the road signposted to Newton Stacey. I now stay with this lane as it passes the Manor House and continues through the hamlet of Newton Stacey. Staying with the lane to leave the hamlet I pass a couple of cottages and then as the road sweeps sharply to the right I take a footpath in front of me over a stile in a gap cut in the hedge.
After the section on the tarmac lane it is good to be walking in a field again. The well-worn footpath is easy to follow as it heads towards another minor road.
At the road I turn left ignoring the footpath sign opposite leading across Moody’s Down and the MOD firing range at Barton Stacey. Apparently the footpath is known locally as Postman’s Walk, but it should only be attempted when there is no Red Flag. When the Red Flag is hoisted there is live firing on the range so it would take a foolish postman to attempt it!
My route along the road soon leads to my second Ordnance Survey trig pillar of the day. This handsome trig has a bench conveniently besides it where I stop for a short break.
Resuming my walk along another section of road I reach Barton Stacey. Fortunately it is a back lane and I do not encounter any traffic. In the village I pass All Saints Church, parts of which date back to the 12th century, and head into the village.
I can’t recall visiting this village before. Apparently it suffered a major fire in 1792 when most of the buildings were destroyed so the village was rebuilt. At a junction by the church I turn left and then almost immediately take a right to join a single track lane (Bullington Lane) signposted to Bullington and Micheldever Station. At a junction I fork to the right and keep going beside houses and then after the last house join a track, Barton Drove, which heads in an easterly direction.
I stay with this track, which as it nears the A30 becomes a service road for the Sutton Scotney Services on the A34. After carefully crossing the A30 I follow the path running parallel to the A34 before crossing on a road bridge and then passing Manor Farm. I reach a road and turn left to walk along the pavement into the village of Sutton Scotney. In the village I turn right by the Victoria Hall.
At this junction is the war memorial with a convenient bench to stop for my lunch.
Refreshed I resume my walk and take the lane from the War Memorial that heads east, but almost immediately take a footpath on the right beside a car park. The way markers show I have now joined the Watercress Way.
This is another long distance path I have not previously walked. It is a 27 mile circular route going between Alresford, Kings Worthy and Sutton Scotney and much of the route follows the old Watercress railway line and the Didcot-Newbury-Southampton Railway. The section I am now on is going over fields parallel to the old line to Southampton.
The footpath brings me to a minor road where I turn right and then almost immediately take a left into the driveway of Wonston Manor Farm. I now stay with this path as it heads in a southerly direction to pass West Stoke Farm. On reaching a road I turn left and then at a crossroads at Wallers Ash I turn right and follow the road until I reach a track on the right, Ox Drove. This track heads west.
As I near South Wonston the path is blocked whilst the route is being re-laid. Fortunately there is a diversion which leads me through fields and then rejoins the track in South Wonston.
I reach a road which I cross and then take a bridge over the A34 and then follow a path which passes the South Wonston Water Tower. Just after the tower fencing I divert from my route and take a path on the left into a field. This is not a footpath but is obviously well used by locals. The field appears not to have been used for crops for some time and I walk across it to the Ordnance Survey Worthy Down trig pillar. The is my third trig of the day and the 282nd I have bagged.
From the trig I retrace my steps to the footpath, pausing on the way to have a good look at the water tower. This is the first time I have viewed it close up, previously I have seen it whilst driving along the A34.
Rejoining the track I turn left and follow it towards the A272, along the way passing a World War II pillbox.
At the road I turn right and walk along the wide verge for a few hundred yards before taking a bridleway on the left.
I follow this track in a westerly direction, soon crossing a minor road and then at a crossing of tracks go straight on. A bit further on I cross another crossing of tracks and then ignore a path on the left. I take the next drove on my right and head in a north westerly direction towards the A30. Arriving at the main road I cross and take a lane beside the Leckford Hutt.
I continue along this lane until I reach the point where electricity wires cross above. Here I take a bridleway on the right. The path is a bit overgrown but I manage to find a way through without any problem.
The route turns to the left and then continues along to reach the fence besides the Radio Telescope at the Chilbolton Observatory. Established in the 1960’s this observatory is used for meteorological research and satellite tracking.
The track’s now a lot clearer and easy to follow. At a junction of tracks I turn left and stay with this footpath as it goes through an area of downland and then reaches the track leading back to my starting point in West Down Nature Reserve car park.
It has been a cracking walk, although with a bit more road walking than I would normally like but this has enabled me to bag three OS trig pillars. I have covered twenty two miles and now it is time to head home and take Crosby out for a walk.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 131 – Romsey, Andover & Test Valley; OS Explorer – 144 – Basingstoke, Alton & Whitchurch, Odiham, Overton & Hook; and OS Explorer Leisure – OL32 – Winchester
8th October 2021
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)
All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it. To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk. It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.