Walking Hampshire's Test Way
The long-distance trail and 15 day walks
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.
CentresBeginning 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.
DifficultyAll 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 SeeInkpen 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
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.
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
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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.
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 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.View Articles and Books by Malcolm Leatherdale