BOAT: Harrow Way

Location: 2 Court Drove, Overton, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG25 3ES, UK
  • Overall Rating: 5
  • Location: Overton, Hampshire.
  • OS Explorer Map 144, 'Basingstoke, Alton and Whitchurch, Odiham, Overton and Hook'.
  • Starting OS Grid Reference: SU484500
  • Starting GPS Co-ordinates: N51 24' 70" W001 30' 80"
  • Finishing OS Grid Reference: SU528519   
  • Finishing GPS Co-ordinates: N51 26' 40" W001 24' 50"
  • To see: Harrow Way.
  • ALWAYS follow the Greenlane Code!
N.B.: This byway is subject to a TRO which runs between 1st November and 31st May every year. Do not try to drive this trail between these dates.

Despite the seasonal TRO on it, this byway is a corker! The TRO itself has no doubt been laid down due to the impeccable surface this lane displays: it's clearly had a problem with ruts and overuse in the past, so the council appears to have graded it perfectly level and covered it in compacted earth and gravel. As a result it is in better shape than many country roads in this area! The foliage is also (mostly) kept well cut back so there is little or no chance of scratching up the paintwork on a newer vehicle.

We started this byway from its western end, where for a stretch of a score of metres or so it is classified as a UCR. Also at this end another UCR I've christened 'Watts Lane' heads due south towards Home Farm: this is little more than a grassy/earthen access track to the farm which very quickly turns to tarmac. It holds relatively little interest for greenlaners compared to the main event but feel free to drive it should you wish to vary your route.

For the most part this is a very flat byway in both surface and gradient, and it really is easy going winding its way along field boundaries and line with mature trees. Soon another UCR called Whitnal Lane passes by, heading out northwards from Harrow Way itself. Whitnal Lane is worth a look as it offers an alternative starting point for this lane, and it is not subject to a TRO either so can be driven at any time of year.

Slightly further east the Ordinance Survey map appears to show a country lane known as Jack Mills Lane crossing the track and turning into a BOAT as it heads westbound, but unfortunately I believe it is a private road and at any length the entrance is far too overgrown to access via anything but on foot so it's best to ignore this particular byway.

Further east still and yet another UCR, this time called Court Drove, crosses our greenlane. This is quite a good one (read or review by following the link) and is well worth a visit whilst you're in the area. Harrow Way meanwhile climbs relatively steeply uphill towards the B3051, which it crosses just north of the village of Foxdown. There is a couple of paths here, but pick the obvious, signposted, course as the southernmost track has been created by illegal offroaders looking for a hill-climb (and a tame one at that) and needs to be blocked off.

Over the road an unnamed byway leaves the main track to the south, however, like Watts Lane it is relatively boring and only skirts the huge, industrial eyesore that is Overton Mill. Avoid unless you like that sort of thing coupled with hassle from the security droids at its southern end. Our byway then curves to the south east and starts out downhill and then ends where it meets a country road and a very acute angle. You can continue the greenlaning by heads a matter of metres east and driving White Lane. Harrow Way is a great byway that provides a number of options to make repeat visits more interesting, and we highly recommend it.

Harrow Way is also reputed to be the 'oldest lane in England'. Forming part of the 'Old Way', in the Neolithic period it ran as a trackway through the Wield all the way from Rochester, via Guildford and Andover to Stonehenge and Seaton in Devon, which must have been no small accomplishment in those times! Something to ponder as you drive it. Nearer to Andover, another short stretch of it is also a byway, and you can read about it in our entry for it here.

This are Hampshire County Council Byways 23, 36 and 715, treated as one single entry for convenience..

View Harrow Way/Watts Lane in a larger map

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