Hampshire walk along the Test Way
PUBLISHED: 10:53 26 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:53 26 August 2016
© Steve Davison
Head to Chilbolton for a wander along the Test Way with views of the rivers Test and Anton says Steve Davison
After leaving the car park the first part of the route follows the course of a former railway towards Fullerton, crossing the River Test on the way. Fullerton Junction was where the railway from Hurstbourne, which opened in 1885, joined with the line from Andover to Romsey and Redbridge. Often known as the Sprat and Winkle Line, the railway, which opened in 1865, followed parts of a former canal that had opened in 1794.
From Fullerton the route heads through fields, briefly joining the course of the railway again, before meeting up with the picturesque River Anton - the river rises just north of Andover and joins the River Test near Chilbolton. We then head over Red Hill – see if you can spot the radio telescope to the south-east – before dropping down to the River Test and Chilbolton Cow Common.
The river, which rises at Ashe to the west of Basingstoke, is renowned for trout fishing, whilst the common, which was first mentioned in 1284, is home to a great variety of plants and wildlife. As we head across the common we are following part of the Test Way, a 44 mile long distance route from Inkpen Beacon to Eling
Next stop is Chilbolton, recorded in the Domesday Book as Cilbodentune, the village has a number of picturesque 17th and 18th century thatched cottages and pub, the Abbots Mitre. The village is also home to the Church of St Mary the Less, which dates from the 12th century - step inside to see the striking, and unusual, Millennium Sculpture by David Begbie.
The final part of the walk heads through the chalk downland of West Down nature reserve back to Testcombe - close-by is the Mayfly pub overlooking the river.
Distance: 5.5 miles (8.6km)
Time: 2.5 hours without stops
Terrain: Ups and downs, tracks and paths which can be muddy, some stiles and gates, short sections of road
Start/Finish: West Down NR car park (SU382389) on Coley Lane beside the junction with the A3057 at Testcombe, south-west of Chilbolton
Map: OS Explorer 131
Refreshment: Abbots Mitre at Chilbolton (01264 860348); Mayfly at Testcombe (01264 860283)
1 (SU382389) - From the car park cross over Coley Lane and turn left along the path beside the high brick wall to a junction beside the bridge. Turn right along the path that follows the former railway and later cross over the River Test, before passing the remains of the old railway platforms hidden amongst the trees (Fullerton Junction). Continue along the tarmac track and after the house on the left turn sharp left. Follow the track as it swings right under the A3057 and then left to reach Fullerton Road. Turn right to cross the River Anton and follow the road, keeping right at the junction and continue uphill for 400m. At the entrance drive on the left (Fullerton Manor), turn right into the field and then turn left along the track for 700m. Go through a gate and follow the fence downhill.
2 (SU368406) - Bear left along the track to a path junction and turn right through a gate. Follow the track over the bridge and continue, soon with the River Anton on the left. Turn left through a gate and cross the footbridge. Keep ahead through the trees to a junction and turn right alongside the field edge. Exit through a large gate and with care, cross over the A3057. Go through the bushes and cross the stile. Head diagonally right, steeply uphill, then continue alongside the fence on the left. Go through a gate and continue past bushes and then alongside the fence. Later, dogleg left and right and continue. Follow the hedge on the right as it swings left and right, and then heads downhill.
3 (SU384404) - At the bottom of the field, ignore the track ahead, but turn left to a path junction and fork right down some steps to the road. Turn left for 50m and then right along the track (Test Way). Go through the gate and cross a couple of long footbridges over the River Test. Go through another gate to enter Cow Common and head south-east. Cross a footbridge and immediately turn left (shortcut: keep ahead to the car park and turn right). Go through a gate and follow the enclosed path, then through another gate. Continue alongside the fence and through a gate. Turn left through a gate and follow the fence, pass another gate and leave the field over a stile.
4 (SU394403) - Turn right along the lane, passing St Mary’s Church, and keep right at the junction. Follow the Village Street through Chilbolton for 500m passing the Abbots Mitre pub and village shop. Turn right down Joy’s Lane to a car park and fork left (shortcut rejoins here). Follow the track (Test Way) as it curves round a thatched cottage and just before the Memorial Playing Field gate turn right along a path (fence on the left). Later turn left through a gate to enter the playing field and turn right. Leave through another gate and follow the enclosed path to reach Coley Lane. Cross over and turn left, then right at the entrance track for West Down. Immediately turn right through a gate to enter the nature reserve and follow the Test Way south-west, passing some trees and seats before heading downhill back to the starting point.
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