BOAT: Wayfarer's Walk (Part 1)

Location: Meadham Ln, Hannington, Hampshire RG25 3, UK
  • Overall Rating: 5
  • Location: Kingsclere, Hampshire.
  • OS Explorer Map 144, 'Basingstoke, Alton and Whitchurch, Odiham, Overton and Hook'.
  • Starting OS Grid Reference: SU525556
  • Starting GPS Co-ordinates: N51 17' 51.53" W001 14' 52.59"
  • Finishing OS Grid Reference: SU516565
  • Finishing GPS Co-ordinates: N51 18' 19.17" W001 15' 40.43"
  • To see: The view itself! Bronze/Iron Age hill fortsWatership Down, many tumuli.
  • ALWAYS follow the Greenlane Code!
NB: This lane is one of a few stretches of the Wayfarer's Walk that enjoy vehicular access. For the other sections, click through to Part 2 and Part 3.

The Wayfarer's Walk is a long distance footpath which runs from Emsworth in Hampshire to Walbury Hill in Berkshire. Short sections of it are designated as a BOAT, and are therefore drivable. This particular section starts near Walkeridge Farm from a modern metalled section of the Portway Roman road, which used to run from London to Weymouth. The actual Roman road is apparently still visible in places, but unfortunately it's not even visible as crop marks in this area.

We drove from south to north-west, by far the best way to tackle it. Turning north off of the Portway, topped with an unrutted grass surface, the lane climbs a gentle slope up to around 210m above sea level. On cresting the hill, a most impressive vista presents itself (pictured below) to the west and north. The lane then kinks northwest and starts a gentle descent downhill towards Stubbington Down. The foliage opens out at this point, until the very end of the lane where it closes in again for the final 50 yards or so. It's a brief but satisfying drive. The Wayfarer's Walk is again drivable further down it's route, see our review of the other sections in Part 2.

With regards to the extensive historical sites to be found in the area, you can scratch the surface and get some context from the village of Kingsclere's website. Up on Gottington Hill, underneath the huge wireless station (pictured below right), lies the remains of a medieval settlement, some related fish ponds and park pales, and further east is a tumulus. Very little, if anything, remains above ground short of crop marks. On Cannon Heath Down, a medieval field system lies underneath some modern gallops. But the highlight is obviously the actual Watership Down, just to the west of Combe Hole (SU495571). More tumuli can be seen on top of Watership Down. Further west still, for those walking to Ladle Hill, an 'unfinished' Iron Age hillfort can still be seen, along with yet more tumuli. This site affords an excellent view over to another fort on top of Beacon Hill. It would be quite possible to spend a whole day up here!

Some annoying provisos follow: due to undergrowth the lane is almost exactly the right width for a Defender with not an inch to spare. You may well pick up the odd scratch, but more importantly this is an incredibly popular lane with walkers and cyclists, so should you encounter any, stop somewhere sensible and let them pass. It's even popular with other greenlaners, so if you encounter a Discovery coming the other way (incidentally, this was the first time we have EVER run into anyone else greenlaning, anywhere!), you'll have to reach an amicable arrangement. Yet another proviso: the lane is bordered on it's northerly edge by unfenced crops. Please, take care to avoid damage to these in any way: it's the farmer's livelihood and if you annoy him, the lane will be closed to us permanently. Don't be 'that guy', i.e. the mindless moron who ruins it for everyone else.

View Wayfarer's Walk (Part 1) in a larger map

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