Walking Hampshire's Test Way

The long-distance trail and 15 day walks

By Malcolm Leatherdale

Guidebook to walking the 71km (44 mile) Test Way in Hampshire from high on the chalk downs of Inkpen Beacon to the Eling Tide Mill near Southampton Water. Following the beautiful, crystal clear River Test, it passes picturesque villages and fascinating historic sites. Also includes 15 day walks to explore this lovely part of pastoral England.



All year


Beginning at Inkpen Beacon, the Test Way passes close to or through St Mary Bourne, Whitchurch, Stockbridge, King's Somborne, Broughton, Mottisfont, Romsey and ends at Eling Totton.


All abilities are catered for. Several of the walks and the first half of the Test Way are perhaps more of a challenge. The second half is fairly flat as are the majority of the walks. No special equipment required.
Must See

Must See

Inkpen Beacon; Whitchurch Silk Mill; Chilbolton Common; Longstock Park Water Garden; Danebury Iron Age hill fort; Stockbridge Down; Mottisfont Abbey; Romsey Abbey, Romsey Signal Box - restored - formerly part of the dismantled 'Sprat and Winkle' railway; Broadlands House Romsey; Lower Test Nature Reserve; Eling Tide Mill Totton
12 Jul 2018
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.0cm
  • Overview

    Guidebook to walking Hampshire's Test Way, a 44 mile (71km) route from Inkpen Beacon to the Eling Tide Mill near Southampton Water. The walk, which is described over eight stages, takes in many of the region's natural, historical and architectural delights, from the ever famous 'Sprat and Winkle' railway to the River Test itself – a stunning example of the exceedingly rare chalk stream.

    Each stage (they range in length from 3 to 8.5 miles) is described clearly and concisely, and is accompanied by 1:50,000 OS mapping. Worth its weight in your backpack, the guide also includes information on the history, geology and landscape of the Test Valley, as well as practical information on accommodation and transport. Additionally, it describes 15 circular walks in the Test Valley, which vary in length from 3.75 miles (6km) to 8.5 miles (13.75km).

    The Test Way passes through areas of intriguing history and remarkable natural beauty. There are sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as well as Iron Age hill forts, medieval churches, age old abbeys, relics from a long passed railway era and quaint villages brimming with thatch and flint and individual 'hostelries' to match. It is a walk well suited to history and geology enthusiasts, and certainly a must for anyone interested in the iconic Sprat and Winkle railway.

  • Contents

    Brief history of the Test Valley
    The Andover and Redbridge canal and the ‘Sprat and Winkle’ railway
    Geology and landscape
    Plants and wildlife
    Where to stay
    Getting to and around the Test Way and to the walks
    Walking the Test Way
    Cycling – the National Cycle Network and parts of the Test Way
    Waymarking, access and rights of way
    Protecting the countryside
    Using this guide
    The Test Way
    Stage 1 Inkpen Beacon to Hurstbourne Tarrant
    Stage 2 Hurstbourne Tarrant to St Mary Bourne
    Stage 3 St Mary Bourne to Longparish
    Stage 4 Longparish to Wherwell
    Stage 5 Wherwell to Stockbridge
    Stage 6 Stockbridge to Mottisfont
    Stage 7 Mottisfont to Romsey
    Stage 8 Romsey to Eling Wharf Totton
    Walks between Inkpen Beacon and Wherwell
    Walk 1 Hurstbourne Tarrant and Ibthorpe
    Walk 2 Whitchurch, Laverstoke and Freefolk
    Walk 3 Longparish, Forton, Harewood Forest and Deadman’s Plack
    Walk 4 Barton Stacey and Bransbury
    Walk 5 Wherwell and Goodworth Clatford
    Walks between Chilbolton and Stockbridge
    Walk 6 Chilbolton, Fullerton, Goodworth Clatford and Upper Clatford
    Walk 7 Chilbolton Observatory and Chilbolton Common
    Walk 8 Danebury Iron Age hill fort and Longstock
    Walk 9 Stockbridge and Marsh Court
    Walk 10 Stockbridge Down and Little Somborne
    Walks between Houghton and Totton
    Walk 11 Houghton and Broughton
    Walk 12 Houghton, King’s Somborne and Horsebridge
    Walk 13 Stonymarsh, Mottisfont, Kimbridge and Michelmersh
    Walk 14 Lockerley, Mottisfont and Dunbridge
    Walk 15 Romsey, Fishlake Meadows Nature Reserve and Greatbridge

    Appendix A Route summary tables
    Appendix B Itinerary planner
    Appendix C Accommodation near the Test Way
    Appendix D Useful contacts
    Appendix E Further reading

  • Updates
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    We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our contact form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).

  • Reviews
    The River Test is one of only a couple of hundred chalk stream rivers in the world.t

    The River Test is one of only a couple of hundred chalk stream rivers in the world. The Test Way is based loosely on the river, staring from Inkpen Beacon and finishing at Eling tide mill. In fact, the footpath does not meet the River Test until Longparish, over a third of the way down the footpath.

    The book features a full length guide to the path, followed by a series of circular walks from the path, although the section of path following the river runs to less than 30 pages.

    Various others rivers are encountered, including the River Dun, Bartley Water, River Dever, River Anton and Oakley Stream. There is a section on the Andover & Redbridge Canal which was 35km long but of which only some 3km remain, very overgrown. Much of it was used as trackbed for the corresponding railway, not entirely successfully as barges at walking pace were better at cornering than were railway trains, which tended to derail frequently.

    As is often seen with Cicerone books, the route uses sections of OS 1:50,000 map to accompany the text. It is also well illustrated with various pictures of the river and its tributaries, braiding being a frequent feature in this flat and rural valley.

    Canoeist Magazine

    Excellent book, some beautiful images and useful facts as you do the walk

    My wife and I have been walking the various stages of the Test Way throughout the summer of 2018, using largely information from Hampshire CC web sites and local maps. We came across this book recently and used it for Stage 7 (having already completed Stages 1 to 6!) and found it a really useful guide. We now look forward to using it on the last Stage, from Romsey to Eling as we try to complete the whole test way later this summer. Excellent book, some beautiful images and useful facts as you do the walk with added walks as an extra bonus. I just wish it had been available a few months earlier!

    Philip, by email

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Malcolm Leatherdale

Malcolm Leatherdale

Malcolm Leatherdale has a lifelong interest in walking, cycling and exploring his native Hampshire. He has lived for the past 15 years a stone’s throw away from the River Test and the Test Way.

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