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Route for a Hampshire walk around Longstock and Danebury Hill

PUBLISHED: 14:28 14 December 2018

Danebury Hill trig point

Danebury Hill trig point

Fiona Barltrop

Recharge your batteries with a visit to Longstock in the beautiful Test Valley and enjoy a downland walk taking in fine views from Danebury Hill

The picturesque village of Longstock is situated on the western bank of the River Test about a mile north of Stockbridge. The aptly named village has one long street lined with many attractive dwellings including some lovely thatched cottages, and, opposite the church, a renowned pub, the Peat Spade. The tranquil Test is one of Hampshire’s beautiful clear chalk streams, world famous for its trout fishing.

A 44-mile long distance path, the Test Way, runs from Inkpen Hill in Berkshire southwards to Eling where the River Test flows into Southampton Water. Apart from the initial section, the route follows much of the course of the River Test. Not too testing (despite its name!), it’s a good choice for a first multi-day walking trip, or can be walked on an ad hoc basis in stages. Circular day walks exploring the countryside close to the Test valley and incorporating stretches of the Test Way are also easily devised.

At roughly the halfway point along the Test Way, Longstock makes an excellent base for a short stay, with good walking both over the surrounding downland and along the Test Way itself, just across the river from the village. This section of the Test Way – both to the north and south of Longstock - follows the course of an old railway line and offers pleasant, easy walking, albeit lacking in views. This peaceful walk leads you gently up and over the rolling downland to the west of Longstock, returning through Longstock Park, which, like the land across the valley around the village of Leckford, is part of the Waitrose Farm Leckford Estate. The produce grown on the 4,000 acre estate is supplied to Waitrose stores across the country. Although an optional extension to the walk, Danebury’s Iron Age hill fort should not be missed. Constructed about 2500 years ago, it is one of the most intensively studied Iron Age sites in Europe, and provides superb views from the top.


Information

• Start/finish: St Mary’s Church, Longstock (SU359371). Roadside parking up Church Road beyond the church near the cemetery.

• Map: OS Explorer 131

• Distance: 6¼ miles (10km), plus 2¼ miles (3.6km) including Danebury Hill extension and River Test bridge detour.

• Terrain: Gently rolling hills, parkland and river valley. Short stretch alongside busy road for extension to Danebury Hill.

• Time: 3 hours (allow extra time for Danebury Hill)

• Refreshments: Peat Spade Inn; Longstock Park Farm Shop & Café

• Public transport: Stagecoach and Wheelers bus services between Stockbridge and Winchester/Andover, bustimes.org.

• More information: ‘Catch of the Day’, a delightful apartment in Longstock, peacefully situated on the banks of the River Test, makes an ideal base for a visit, a 5-minute walk from the pub and start of the walk. Contact Mulberry Cottages: mulberrycottages.com; ‘Walking Hampshire’s Test Way’ by Malcolm Leatherdale (Cicerone guidebook)


The walk

1 (SU359371) From St Mary’s Church head up Church Road passing the cemetery on your right. The road becomes a track (restricted bridleway) and leads you gently uphill, providing occasional views of the surrounding downland through gaps in the hedges and trees. At the top you’ll reach a parking area on the roadside close to a junction.

2 (SU335375) At this point the main route forks right along the road signed for the Clatfords. However, if you have the time and energy, it’s well worth making the detour to Danebury Hill, but with a word of warning: this involves a short (c.300m) stretch in both directions alongside what can be quite a busy minor road (unlike the much quieter one for the Clatfords). There is some verge from about half way along but not for the first section from the parking area. Since there are two car parks at Danebury Hill – one at the entrance when you turn off the road and another higher up – you might prefer to do the Danebury extension (which includes a circuit around the ramparts) separately, either at the end of the walk or at the start. If the latter, you could always re-park at pt 2 and join the route there. To continue to Danebury Hill, turn right at pt 2 and take the left fork, and walk along the roadside to the turning on the left for Danebury. Walk on up the access road (or the grass alongside) to the upper car park and carry on uphill past the trig point to the hill fort. Follow the gravel path which leads in through what was the east gate (an information board tells you more) and then up some steps on the left to the top of the ramparts and head round in a clockwise direction. Thereafter retrace your steps to pt 2 and follow the road signed for the Clatfords for about 400m.

3 (SU335380) Turn right onto a track (restricted byway) which runs alongside what is shown as Waters Downs Farm on the OS Explorer map, but is now called Daisy Down Farm. After about 1km where the track bears gently right towards Charity Down Farm you need to keep ahead along the grass passing under a height restriction barrier. The grassy track can be quite overgrown but is easy enough to follow. Heading east you’ll pass a vineyard on your left, then reach a road. Go straight across and carry on ahead (where a drive bears round left to a house). The grassy track leads to a more defined track (byway) and a road.

4 (SU374389) Turn right along this quiet road through Longstock Park (passing an entrance to the Water Garden, open to the public on Sundays from April to September). After about 1km you turn left onto a footpath, which leads back to Longstock. But if you would like to visit the Longstock Farm Shop & Café for some refreshment turn right (about a 10 minute walk). The Longstock Park Nursey is also located here. To return to Longstock follow the footpath, which leads to a road, where you bear left passing a number of thatched cottages. When you reach the Peat Spade Inn just before the church, do make a short detour (about 300m) along the road to the left (with the distinctive name of The Bunny) to the River Test where there is a photogenic fisherman’s hut with eel traps across the river.


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