Hampshire walk around Farley Mount Country Park
PUBLISHED: 11:12 11 December 2018
Blow away the Christmas cobwebs on a walk with fine views and a striking memorial
Situated just a few miles west of Winchester is a large area of beautiful downland and woodland called Farley Mount Country Park, comprising chalk grassland, ancient woodland (Crab Wood Nature Reserve) and a plantation of mixed woodland owned and managed by the Forestry Commission (West Wood). With a good network of paths and several car parks, it’s a duly popular area for walkers.
Its most notable feature is the Farley Mount monument, a striking white pyramid shaped monument atop Mount Down, erected on a mound in honour of a horse, which was buried below. As the monument’s plaque records it, in 1733, while out fox hunting, the horse, which belonged to Paulet St John (who served as an MP between 1734 and 1754, and was later created a baronet), leaped into a chalk pit twenty five feet deep with his master on his back. Both apparently unharmed, the next year the horse, entered in the name of ‘Beware Chalk Pit’, won the Hunters Plate race on Worthy Downs. There are far-reaching views to be enjoyed from up here with benches on which to relax - on a clear day the Isle of Wight can be seen.
The Clarendon Way, a 24-mile waymarked route linking the cathedral cities of Salisbury (across the border in Wiltshire) and Winchester, runs through Farley Mount Country Park. The way is named after Clarendon Park, once the site of Clarendon Palace, a royal hunting lodge for Norman kings, situated just east of Salisbury. The varied route takes in woodland and downland and crosses the River Test near King’s Somborne.
This walk follows a stretch of the Clarendon Way for the outward leg and returns through Parnholt Wood, passing Farley Mount both at the beginning and end of the walk. On the return, there’s the option of a short out-and-back detour to visit the lovely little 12th century church at Farley Chamberlayne, St John’s. The manorial lands of Farley were given to Herbert Fitz-Remi, Chamberlain to William the Conqueror, hence the name of the village. Sir Paulet St John (referred to above), who died in 1780, and his third wife, Jane, are buried in the sanctuary.
• Start/finish: Monument car park, Farley Mount Country Park (SU407293) or nearby Juniper car park or one of the others along the roadside to the east
• Maps: OS Explorers 131 & 132; Landranger 185
• Distance: 6¼ miles (10km) plus 1½ miles (2.5km) including detour to Farley Chamberlayne church
• Terrain: Fairly easy walking (gentle gradients) along clear paths and tracks over open downland and through woodland
• Time: 3 hours (plus extra for church detour)
• Refreshments: None on route. Crown Inn at King’s Somborne, about ⅔ mile (1km) from pt 4
• Public transport: Nearest bus stop in Sparsholt village, a couple of miles walk from start.
• More information: Farley Mount Country Park is managed by Hampshire County Council’s Countryside Service
1 (SU408293) There are several car parks (not all shown on the OS map) within fairly close proximity to one another spaced out along the roadside at Farley Mount Country Park. This walk starts from the westernmost one nearest the monument (and called just that, Monument), but if full, you can easily walk here along the grass parallel to the road from one of the other car parks. (The next one, just to the east of Monument, is Juniper.) Follow the path west-southwest from the car park and after c.500m fork left and up the grass to Farley Mount. You’ll have another chance to enjoy the views from here again later, if wished.
2 (SU402290) Return to the main path turning left and almost immediately fork right along a grassy path keeping near the fence on the right – this provides better views (notably to the north) than the main path, which it rejoins before long. Carry on to a junction where a restricted byway turns left (your return route).
3 (SU397290) Keep ahead along the signed Clarendon Way, descending the downland to reach a lane. Just before it turn left, still following the signed Clarendon Way. After passing a bridleway turn on the left keep ahead when the Clarendon Way bears right. This leads to Hoplands where you continue along the road until you reach a byway signpost on the left.
4 (SU368301) Turn left here and follow the track/byway south then east through Parnholt Wood to a four-way junction (signpost). Shortly before this the route becomes a restricted byway (no vehicles). For the out-and-back detour to visit the church at Farley Chamberlayne, keep ahead at the junction and follow the track that leads to Farley Farm, passing a turning on the right (to a grass air strip) on the way. Continue past the farm buildings and along the lane, soon reaching a turning on the left for the church, which is situated in a lovely, peaceful spot. Inside note the fine modern font which commemorates the Millennium and was dedicated by the Bishop of Winchester in 2000. Retrace your steps after visiting the church.
5 (SU391284) At the four-way junction turn right - or left if you didn’t visit the church - along the wood-lined track back to pt 3. Retrace your steps to the start.
• The best routes for a winter walk in Hampshire - Is there anything more refreshing than a stroll on a crisp winter’s day? We don’t think so! Here are a few of our favourite rambles across the county to enjoy this season