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Alresford Watercress Trail

There are currently 10 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

Alresford Watercress Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 12 May 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guidestar1 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guidestar1 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guidestar1 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guidestar0 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guide
Hampshire, Winchester
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Alresford Watercress Trail
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guide boot Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular walk from the Hampshire market town of New Alresford. The walk starts from the station car park (the terminus of the Watercress Line heritage steam railway) and crosses the town to join the riverside path along the pretty River Alre. The route then swings north and west through ancient lanes and farm tracks to reach Old Alresford with its beautiful church, before returning alongside streams to New Alresford. The riverside paths are stunning with chance to really appreciate the fast-running clear water that makes such a perfect environment for the base of Hampshire’s watercress industry.

The route follows a mixture of tarmac, stone and grass paths/lanes and whilst most of these are well-made, the route can get a little muddy after wet weather. There are no stiles and gates but there are a few long and steady climbs and descents. There are public toilets on Station Road near the start of the walk and there are many options for refreshments in the town itself. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

New Alresford can be found just off the A31 about 8 miles from Winchester. The walk starts from Station Car Park, a pay and display car park at the end of Station Road alongside the station for the Watercress Line steam railway station. Approximate post code SO24 9JG. Parking is free on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Brown tourism signs mark the station from the centre of the town. If you are coming by train, the steam railway runs services from Alton where you can connect to the main network (check train times before you travel).

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Walk Sections

Start to Fulling Mill Cottage
Start to Fulling Mill Cottage

Start point: 51.0886 lat, -1.1618 long
End point: 51.0943 lat, -1.1665 long

The walk starts from New Alresford (pronounced Allsford) Station, the terminus of the heritage steam railway known as the Watercress Line. The line runs for 10 miles from Alton to Alresford and gained its name in the days when it was used to transport watercress to the markets in London. On the third Sunday in May every year the town hosts a Watercress Festival which attracts more than 15,000 visitors.

From the car park, head back out via the entrance road signed to Town Centre and Toilets. Continue down Station Road (passing the public toilets on the left) and you will emerge to a T-junction. Cross over with care and turn right. A few yards later turn left into Broad Street.

As the main arm of Broad Street bends right (alongside the old Fire Station) fork left to keep ahead onto Mill Hill. Immediately after Spring House, turn left into Ladywell Lane marked with a sign for Wayfarer’s Walk. Follow this tarmac path past houses and keep ahead to join a riverside tarmac path. Soon the laid hedge on the right gives way to give you a clear view of the River Alre on the right.

The River Alre is a tributary of the River Itchen. It is a classic chalk stream with a shallow gravel-bottom with fast waters fed all year round by chalk springs. The fast flowing springs of pure clean water are key to the local commercial cultivation of watercress with the constant temperature of the springs allowing year long cultivation.

Pass by a memorial garden on the left and you will pass over the remains of a weir and arched bridge with the river gushing through. A few paces later you’ll reach Fulling Mill Cottage, a thatched property which straddles the river.

Fulling Mill Cottage to Drove Lane
Fulling Mill Cottage to Drove Lane

Start point: 51.0943 lat, -1.1665 long
End point: 51.0915 lat, -1.1816 long

The Cottage gets its name from the process by which cloth is washed, cleaned, beaten and thickened back in the times that a cloth mill was run here. The cloth would have been washed in baskets lowered into the river below the mill and then beaten by large water operated hammers.

Follow the riverside path ahead and you will emerge out at the base of a residential road. Turn immediately right to continue on the riverside path alongside two large willow trees. Follow the path for some distance further and you’ll come to a small brick built building.

This building – the Eel House – originates from the 1820s and has three brick lined channels underneath it. The channels are now used to regulate the flow of the river, but in the past they contained traps to catch eels for food.

Follow the wooden walkway around the Eel House and a few yards further on you’ll be forced to cross to the right hand side of the river via a small brick-arched bridge. Follow the path as it veers away from the river with properties to the left. Ignore the stile to the right and you will emerge out to a private drive – just continue ahead on the footpath which runs alongside it.

After a little distance the path joins a wide fenced walkway with fields each side. Enjoy the views over to the left across the lakes and down to the river. After some distance the walkway emerges out to Drove Lane.

Drove Lane to Fobdown Farm
Drove Lane to Fobdown Farm

Start point: 51.0915 lat, -1.1816 long
End point: 51.1019 lat, -1.1859 long

Turn left for a few yards and as you reach the bend, cross over to turn right onto the track signed for Wayfarer’s Walk. Follow this path for some distance and at the far end you’ll emerge to a T-junction. Turn right onto this track and head steadily uphill until you reach the T-junction with the road.

Turn left and follow the grass verge alongside the road (taking care of any traffic). Take the opportunity at this high point to enjoy the views across the surrounding hills and valleys. Across to the left you’ll be able to see some of the commercial watercress beds. Continue to the bottom of the hill where you’ll find Fobdown Farm on the right, a cream-coloured farmhouse.

Fobdown Farm to Basingstoke Road
Fobdown Farm to Basingstoke Road

Start point: 51.1019 lat, -1.1859 long
End point: 51.1015 lat, -1.1625 long

Turn right onto the driveway immediately after the cream-coloured farmhouse. Continue past cottages and farm buildings on the right and at the end keep ahead on the grass track past stables to the right and then between hedgerows.

At the top of the track you’ll reach a T-junction with a gate ahead – turn right here. You’ll be following this track for half a mile, so take the opportunity to enjoy the views sweeping over to the right.

At the end of the track keep ahead onto the village lane passing properties to the left. Follow the lane as it bends left and then turn right onto the road with the playing fields to the left. You will come to a T-junction with Basingstoke Road.

Basingstoke Road to End
Basingstoke Road to End

Start point: 51.1015 lat, -1.1625 long
End point: 51.0905 lat, -1.1622 long

Cross over with care and follow the path opposite up the grass verge. Turn right along the pavement and follow this until you emerge out by St Mary’s Church. Cross the main road at this point to follow the pavement on the right of the road, passing the church to the left.

As you meet a junction with a grass triangle, turn right onto the small lane signed to Abbotstone. At the far corner of the grass triangle, bear slightly left to enter the enclosed footpath opposite. Follow this over the stream and a little further on you’ll see some old watercress growing beds on the left.

Watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans, and is related to cress, radish and mustard (all of which are known for their peppery flavour). Being semi-aquatic the crop thrives in these walled water beds fed by the local chalk streams. The crop is often referred to as a ‘super food’ and with its high levels of vitamins and minerals is claimed to have many health benefits including defence against cancers.

You will emerge to the bottom of Mill Hill. Keep straight ahead and you will pass the impressive Old Mill on the left with its spectacular gushing weir. Soon you will rejoin the route of the outward leg of the walk. Simply retrace your steps from this point: continue to the top of Mill Hill, keep ahead to the end of Broad Street, then turn right into West Street and left into Station Road.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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network Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


10 responses to "Alresford Watercress Trail"

this walk is closed for up to 6 months from the 20/06/14

By tismeinnit on 2014-06-27 09:38:49

We did this walk today. All open so quiet, we parked in the main village car park not the train station. Ideal walk if not very fit only a very small incline nothing to strenuous mostly on the flat.

By HeidiDimon on 2015-06-21 17:58:14

We did the walk today 19/7/15 , enjoyed it very much not too hard especially as testing a fairly new hip !! The app worked fine and we could check our progress easily.

By muddygig on 2015-07-19 19:15:36

Did this walk yesterday, 18/12/2015. It was beautiful but we went wrong somewhere - cannot work out where but somewhere fairly early on, I think. We ended up walking miles (about seven, we think) and ended up above Abbotstone which meant walking a fair distance along a busy main road which was a bit hairy! Still enjoyed it but would like to get it right next time.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Remember to make use of the live GPS map on the App...it really does help to prevent any wrong turns.

By sarahlc on 2015-12-19 15:34:25

Did this walk today - heartily enjoyed the riverside and the quietness of the countryside - despite it being Easter half term.
Just used the written description and had no problems following the route

By hantsdee on 2016-04-04 16:29:44

Lovely walk with some nice views and little cottages.

By spike290166 on 2016-04-10 18:14:10

Walked this in mid July. The hedgerows were very high so most of the views were obscured. The river section was lovely.

By veronicaks on 2016-07-17 19:42:45

Lovely start. Pretty boring with long stretches of high hedgerows at times.

By iantomes on 2016-07-30 16:12:16

Did this walk today 14/08/16 easy walk but would suggest going the other way round if warm - easier for the dog to cool off in the river !!

By Alexdennis on 2016-08-14 13:25:39

Nice walk but as previous comments long stretches of hedgerows ! Great for blackberry picking though when in season !

By jaxtiller on 2016-10-09 17:37:47

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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2 images to "Alresford Watercress Trail"

2131_0phil2644241446387911 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guide Image by: phil264424
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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2131_0phil2644241446387926 Alresford Watercress Trail Walking Guide Image by: phil264424
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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