BOAT/UCR: Homelands Lane/Stonylands Lane

Location: South Downs National Park, United Kingdom
  • Overall Rating: 4
  • Location: Clanfield, Hampshire.
  • OS Explorer Map 119 'Meon Valley' or 120, 'Chichester'.
  • Starting OS Grid Reference: SU705191
  • Starting GPS Co-ordinates: N50 96' 70" W000 99 70"
  • Finishing OS Grid Reference: SU683189 or SU690205
  • Finishing GPS Co-ordinates: N50 96' 60" W001 02' 80" or N50 98' 00" W001 01' 70"
  • To see: source of the River Meon, Butster Hill and Queen Elizabeth Country Park nature reserves, Butster Ancient Farm, tumuli.
  • ALWAYS follow the Greenlane Code!
Please note: this is a combined post covering both Homelands Lane and Stonylands Lane which, although separate, cannot be driven in isolation. Also note that we were unable to find the correct name for these byways so we christened them after the farms they serve. If we are wrong, please comment below!

We started our journey at the eastern end of these byways on a UCR common to both, just to the south of Butster Hill which is the highest point on the chalk ridge of the South Downs and the second highest point in the South Downs National Park. Heading along the lightly potholed driveway of crushed asphalt and rubble that serves Homelands Farm and descending gently downhill, Homelands Lane proper soon begins on passing the farm and, once the other byway passes by on the northern side, a simply incredible vista (inevitably marred by electricity pylons) opens up across the sheep-grazed valley to the north. It is the increasingly rare, unspoiled corners of the island such as these, folks, which make living in England great!

On a remarkably straight course forming part of the South Downs Way, the compacted earth surface of the byway is only lightly potholed and although the very occasional branch has designs on the paintwork, it is very well kept and a marked contrast to Stonylands Lane. On passing into Hyden Wood, some of the potholes still contained water and a few larger tree roots make progress slightly more interesting but it is never challenging in the slightest. At this juncture the byway passes the first tumulus, just south of the track. There are a few more just to the north on Hyden Hill and one at the western end of the byway. These tumuli are not particularly impressive but they are certainly excellent picnic spots and whilst you do so, spare a thought for the bronze age warrior buried beneath the soil mound at your feet. Whilst in Hyden Wood the green lane begins its slow descent towards its ending at Hyden Cross.

An alternative route is to turn right onto Stonylands Lane, and you will immediately regret having done so, even on a trail bike. This byway could not be more different from Homelands Lane. A steep descent takes the driver almost immediately into thick, chaotic undergrowth and believe me when I state that it really is hard going. If you have even the slightest inkling towards protecting your paintwork run as fast as you can in the opposite direction: this byway will rip you to shreds. For almost the entire descent blackthorn and hawthorn register their protest all down the side of your vehicle and the light ruts and utterly unnecessary barbed-wire fence (the hedge would stop a charging elephant!) make it absolutely impossible to avoid their clutches. The hell only stops once reaching the switchback turns which, when driving this byway southwards, lull one into a false sense of security given how easy going and carpeted in wild flowers they are. At its northern extremity the mental endurance test that is Stonylands Lane soon finishes on a metalled UCR serving both Stonylands and Preston Farm.

The source of the River Meon bubbles up out of the chalk just to the west of this end of the green lane and is also a stunning place for a picnic. Butster Hill and Queen Elizabeth Country Park nature reserves and the peerless Butster Ancient Farm are all most certainly worth exploring whilst you are in the area.

To Hampshire County Council these are Horndean Byways 43 and 44, combined here for convenience.

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