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Walking in Hampshire

The Hampshire countryside boasts some of the best walking territory in Britain.

When it comes to walking in Hampshire, this county of chalk downlands, picturesque valleys, meandering riverside pathways, glorious open heath and wood lands and coastal pathways really does take some beating. Punctuated by famous, historic towns, villages and places of interest, not to mention the many welcoming village pubs en route, Hampshire is indeed a walkers’ wonderland!

Hampshire Walkers’ Lowdown

With more than 4827 kilometres (3,000 miles) of footpaths, bridleways and byways, Hampshire is really geared up to meet the needs of walkers and ramblers of all levels of ability and inclination! All Hampshire walks are clearly waymarked.

Public Access & Rights of Way in Hampshire

Walkers in Hampshire have legal access to a wide network of Rights of Way (see copy of the legal Definitive Map held at the County Council's Rights of Way Office, Winchester - details in Resources section, below). All routes which offer public access to private land are clearly marked on Ordnance Survey walking maps. The three types of Rights of Way are (1) public footpaths (waymarked with yellow arrows) which are open to walkers only; (2) public bridleways (waymarked with blue arrows) which are open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders; and (3) byways which are open to all traffic.

In addition to the many linear Rights of Way and long-distance routes, throughout Hampshire, the public also has ‘open access’ or ‘right to roam’ (with certain, often seasonal restrictions) to some countryside sites, common land and areas agreed by the Forestry Commission, as well by farmers who have signed up to the government-run Stewardship Scheme.

Walking in the New Forest

The New Forest is one of the most ecologically and historically important regions in lowland Britain; the whole area also makes superb walking territory. Something of a misnomer, the New Forest is actually more open gorse-covered heath land rather than forest, although the wooded areas do support a fascinating variety of tree species and wildlife.

Since the times of William the Conqueror who made this stretch of countryside his personal hunting ground, over a thousand years ago, the New Forest has always held a particular attraction for those in search of various outdoor pursuits including walking. Today’s rambling enthusiasts are no exception. Nature lovers, too, will be in their element as the New Forest is the perfect habitat for some of the most fascinating flora and fauna in Britain. The wooded parts, for example, are home to large populations of red, roe, fallow and diminutive sika deer and otters can be spotted in Lymington River and on its boggy banks.

New Forest Walkers’ Essential Information

 The New Forest is situated to the west of Southampton Water, in south-west Hampshire and covers an area of approximately 230 square kilometres (89 square miles). The New Forest extends to the coast south of the M3/M27 motorways and the A31, between Southampton and Ringwood.
 Popular New Forest routes can get crowded during the high summer period, but it is always possible to escape the crowds by heading for the mainly woodland paths.
 Trains to Ashurst from London, Waterloo run roughly ever two hours and take about 1 hour 20 minutes; Southwest trains and Virgin Cross Country run services to Brockenhurst from Waterloo up to three times per hour and take about 1 hour 30 minutes.
 Be warned! The New Forest ponies that roam freely are generally good natured but caution is needed when the ponies are with foal.
 For detailed information about guided walks and routes and camping facilities, etc., in the New Forest, contact The New Forest Tourist Information Centre, Lyndhurst, website: www.thenewforest.co.uk and the Forestry Commission, website: www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest.

Suggested Hampshire Walks

Barton on Sea Scenic Coastal Path
Distance: 4.3 kilometres (2.7 miles); Difficulty: easy; Route: circular, start car park, eastern end Marine Drive East; Maps: Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 195.

Martin Down Nature Reserve
Distance: circular route 8 kilometres (5 miles); alternatively, 2-, 3- or 4-mile walks exploring individual sections of this open area of chalk downland, heath and woodland with its intriguing archaeology is an option Difficulty: easy / moderate; Route: start, Nature Reserve car park on the A354 between Blandford Forum and Salisbury, end optional for individual walks; Maps: Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 184.

Fordingbridge Walk
Distance: 8.4 kilometres (5.2 miles); Difficulty: easy / moderate; Route: circular, start / end Fordingbridge, via Sandy Balls Holiday Centre, Godshill, Folds Farm at junction of Avon Valley Path, return from Fordingbridge. Maps: Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheets 195 and 184.

The Test Way
Distance: 70.8 kilometres (44 miles); Difficulty: split into eight sections, each an easy walk; Route: start chalk downs at Inkpen, along course of the River Test to Eling, end Totton on Southampton Water; Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer maps: 158 (Newbury & Hungerford), 131 (Romsey, Andover & Test Valley) and OL22 (New Forest).

New Forest Walk – Lymington to Brockenhurst
Distance: 11 kilometres (6.84 miles); Difficulty: easy; Route: start Lymington town station, via Pilley and Roydon Wood, end Brockenhurst station; Maps: Ordnance Survey Landranger 196: The Solent & Isle of Wight; Ordnance Survey Explorer 22: New Forest.

Blackwater Valley
Distance: 8.85 kilometres (5.5 miles); Difficulty: easy (flat but can be muddy in places); Route: start car park off Bramshill Road, Eversley Village, via New Mill Lane, Blackwater Valley Path, Eversley Street , Bramshill Road, Lyndride Drive, St Mary’s Church, Bramshill, turn right along Welsh Drive bridleway (ignore all other turnings off), return car park. Maps: Ordnance Survey Landranger 186.

Walking in Hampshire Resources

 Ramblers’ Association, Ramblers' Association (Main Office), 2nd Floor Camelford House, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TW, UK; Tel: (general enquiries) +44 (0)207 339 8500; email: ramblers@ramblers.org.uk; website: www.ramblersassociation.org.uk

 Ordnance Survey: Pathfinder and Landranger Maps available from wwww.ordsvy.gov.uk

 Hampshire County Council, Rights of Way Office, 2nd Floor, Mottisfont Court, High Street, Winchester, SO23 8ZF; for copy of legal definitive Rights of Way map; Tel: +44 (0)1962 846045; email: rights.of.way@hants.gov.uk.

Walking in Hampshire
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