BOAT: The Ox Drove/Down Lane

Location: Garden Close, Preston Candover, Hampshire RG25 2, UK
  • Overall Rating: 4
  • Location: Preston Candover, Hampshire.
  • OS Explorer Map 144, 'Basingstoke, Alton and Whitchurch, Odiham, Overton and Hook'.
  • Starting OS Grid Reference: SU627419
  • Starting GPS Co-ordinates: N51 10' 14.70" W001 06' 12.50"
  • Finishing OS Grid Reference: SU605392
  • Finishing GPS Co-ordinates: N51 08' 57.04" W001 08' 09.56"
  • To see: two tumuli just to the south of the lane.
  • ALWAYS follow the Greenlane Code!
NB: The western half of this changes status to a RUPP. As such, it is closed due to the removal of access rights for vehicles to all RUPPs under the Natural Environment and Rural Communitites Act, 2006. Only drive the far eastern half.

We drove this BOAT from it's northern end. This is truly a lane of two halves. Starting as Down Lane in the far north, the lane leaves the country road running east out of Preston Candover and heads south-west. At this junction there is usually a quagmire year round. No matter how dry it has been, the muddy pool never seems to disappear, and it represents an obstacle to any car without decent all-terrain tyres. It's treelined, so any lack of control might land you in one, which is as undesirable for the tree as it is for you. Take it in a low gear, slow and steady to avoid wheelspin at all costs. Other than this small section, the lane is an easy going,  unrutted earthen surface, and the undergrowth, where it exists, is wide and well kept (see picture, right).

 After 600m or so Down Lane meets is met by a footpath from the south where it enters Bradley Corner, a small copse no more than a few metres long. It is here that Down Lane ends, and The Ox Drove begins, on paper at least. In Bradley Corner the lane takes a more south-westerly direction, the hedgerows disappear and it begins a shallow descent downhill over an open field. (It need hardly be said that it is imperative that you stick to the track at all times, otherwise you'd truly deserve both of the barrels the farmer will no doubt aim at you! Don't be 'that guy' who is tempted to stray, and ruin it for us all.)

On reaching the field boundary, at the point where another small copse lays to the east, the lane follows a line of beech trees on it's western side. At this point we were fortunate enough to see a huge flock of literally hundreds of rooks flying overhead. The noise they made was incredible! If you're lucky enough to catch the same site you'll never forget it. The lane continues pretty much straight to where it meets the country lane heading south-east out of Preston Candover, just east of Down Farm. This is a good place to leave the lane, indeed, it is the only place to leave the lane, as although The Ox Drove continues over the road, from this point it is a dead end.

South of the crossroads it follows a field boundary, and where it passes under a small power line two tumuli can be found just to the south of the lane. Shortly after these, the lane to all intents and purposes is a dead end. It changes status to a RUPP which does not offer vehicular access, and it turns into a private driveway servicing the large cottage on Chilton Down. Since you cannot go further west (see picture, left), north or south, the only option is to retrace your steps. To that end, don't bother with the second half.

Total Distance: 4.51 km (2.8 mi)
Total Time: 20:19
Moving Time: 18:44
Average Speed: 13.30 km/h (8.3 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 14.43 km/h (9.0 mi/h)
Max Speed: 26.10 km/h (16.2 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 145 m (477 ft)
Max Elevation: 168 m (551 ft)
Elevation Gain: 32 m (104 ft)
Max Grade: 5 %
Min Grade: -4 %

View The Ox Drove/Down Lane in a larger map

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