A South Downs walk around Chalton
PUBLISHED: 12:55 12 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:55 12 November 2013
© Steve Davison
Steve Davison leads the way on a 5 1/2 mile walk through the South Downs around Chalton in south-east Hampshire
Distance: 5 1/2 miles (9km)
Time: 3 hours without stops
Terrain: Some steep ups and downs, tracks and paths which can be muddy with stiles and gates, sections of minor road
Start/Finish: Queen Elizabeth Country Park just off A3 between Petersfield and Horndean, use the Bottom Field car park (pay and display) south of the visitor centre; grid ref SU719181
Map: OS Explorer 120
Refreshments: Chalton – The Red Lion (02392 592246), café at Queen Elizabeth Country Park
More Information: To find out more about Steve, including information on his walking books, visit: www.steve-davison.co.uk
The Queen Elizabeth Country Park, the starting point for our walk this month, is Hampshire’s largest country park covering an area of open access woodland and downland within the South Downs National Park. Facilities include a visitor centre, café, picnic areas and way-marked walking and cycling trails.
From the park we head southwards to climb up Windmill Hill, aptly named as records show there was a windmill up here as far back as the 14th century; the present 19th century mill has been converted into a private house. From the top of the hill there is a great panoramic view southwards taking in the Isle of Wight and the Spinnaker Tower. However, just before the summit we head east downhill with some lovely views to the north and east across the rolling South Downs including Butser Hill which, at 270m, is not quite the highest point in Hampshire.
On the way to Windmill Hill you can call in at the Butser Ancient Farm and transport yourself back to the Iron Age, 2,000 years ago. This experimental archaeological site has a number of replica Iron Age roundhouses and a Roman villa that you can look around. They also undertake various demonstrations including pottery and metal working and the farm is home to some rare breed animals (for opening times and prices visit www.butserancientfarm.co.uk; 02392 598838).
Finally we reach the picturesque village of Chalton where the Church of St Michael and All Angels, built sometime in the late 11th or early 12th century, looks out over the village green and the picture-postcard timber-framed and thatched Red Lion, said to be one of the oldest pubs in Hampshire. Pop inside the church to see the stained glass windows and various memorials including one of a man kneeling at a desk in memory of Richard Ball, Rector (d.1632).
From Chalton the walk heads northwards following part of the Staunton Way back to the start. If you fancy a bit of a longer walk, then the 20-mile Staunton Way runs between the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Langstone Harbour overlooking Hayling Island.
1 (SU719181) – From the Bottom Field car park turn left (west) along the surfaced drive and then left again following the surfaced track southwards, running parallel to the A3 and passing some buildings. Where the track goes left, keep straight on along the bridleway for one mile soon following a fence and bearing away from the A3 past fields to a minor road.
2 (SU721166) – Cross over, turn right for 100m and go left through the hedge. Continue across the field and go through hedge gaps either side of the entrance track to Butser Ancient Farm (which is to the left) and continue up across the next field towards the A3. Cross a stile to a surfaced track and turn left heading up Windmill Hill.
3 (SU716161) – Shortly before the windmill on the summit, lookout for a stile on the left and go left over this (for a view of the windmill or the distant coastline continue up the track and head between the farm (left) and windmill (right) to a gate; retrace your steps). Follow the enclosed path, cross a stile and turn right along the track. Shortly fork left heading down the steep slope with views ahead and left to the Butser Ancient Farm. Cross a stile at the bottom and continue in a similar direction across the field. Turn right along the lane – watch out for traffic – to a junction on the left in Chalton. The walk goes left here and within a few metres goes left along a track, however, before doing that take in a visit of the church which overlooks the thatched Red Lion pub.
4 (SU731160) – Follow the track northwards through a gate and past farm buildings; the walk now follows the Staunton Way back to the start. Keep to the track as it soon passes through a line of trees and continues alongside the right-hand field margin. Later go straight on to a stile and cross over to enter the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Turn right along the track which soon bears left through the trees – just keep to this main track, later rising to a cross-track junction.
5 (SU729182) – Turn left, continuing uphill before passing over the brow of the hill and follow the main track gently downhill; on the way there is a seat on the right with a distant sea view (left). Later the track descends more steeply and curves right before reaching the surfaced drive and car park.