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Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock

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Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock
Author: Claire, Published: 11 Apr 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guidestar1  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guidestar1  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guidestar1  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guidestar0  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guide
Hampshire, Stockbridge
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock
Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty: boot  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guide boot  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guide boot  Stockbridge, Danebury Down and Longstock Walking Guide
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A 7.5 mile circular walk from the idyllic market town of Stockbridge in Hampshire. There are lovely views of the rolling downs throughout and your journey is punctuated with an optional visit to Danebury Hill Fort, the pretty thatched cottages in Longstock village and a beautiful stretch of the River Test, one of the country’s finest chalk streams. If you include a circuit of the hill fort the walk will be extended to 8.5 miles, or if you exclude the optional branch onto Danebury Fort the walk will be reduced to 6.5 miles.

The walk has several steady but long climbs and descents throughout. You will need to negotiate some kissing gates as well as three stiles. The stiles have fence gaps suitable for medium dogs, but larger dogs may need a hand over. There are a couple of stretches walking on very quiet country lanes, plus one crossing point on the A30, so take care here. If you choose to visit Danebury Hill Fort, you will need to walk for 300 metres along the edge of a busier road with an intermittent grass verge – this stretch is well used by walkers but it does require extreme care. There is no livestock for the majority of the route but conservation grazing (with Exmoor ponies, Dexter cattle and sheep) takes place on Danebury Down and Hill Fort so take care with dogs at this point. There are public toilets on Stockbridge High Street and also within the car park for the hill fort. There are lots of options for refreshments in Stockbridge and there is a pub in Longbridge. Approximate time 3.5 hours.

Stockbridge is a small town in west Hampshire within the Test Valley, and is located on the main A30 road. The town is easily accessed from the A303. The walk starts and finishes at the eastern end of the High Street, close to the roundabout with the B3049. There is ample free parking all the way along the length of the High Street. Approximate post code SO20 6HF. Stockbridge is also served by several bus services, bus numbers 15 and 16 both stop outside the Town Hall on the High Street (correct April 2016).

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Walk Sections

Start to Roman Road
Start to Roman Road

Start point: 51.1139 lat, -1.4901 long
End point: 51.1149 lat, -1.5017 long

To begin, walk west along Stockbridge High Street, passing the fire station on your left. You will soon cross the first of the five branches of the River Test that flow through the town.

Further along you will pass St Peter’s Church on your right. Immediately afterwards you will come to a zebra crossing. At this point make sure you are walking along the left-hand pavement as you continue heading west. Pass the Town Hall (with its distinctive clock tower) on your left and then public toilets also on your left.

Beyond the retail section of the High Street, simply keep ahead on the left-hand pavement, crossing the bridge over the largest branch of the river. Continue ahead, gradually uphill (ignoring the side road to Houghton). Where the main road swings right, stay with the pavement which leads you ahead into Roman Road.

Roman Road to Vehicle Track
Roman Road to Vehicle Track

Start point: 51.1149 lat, -1.5017 long
End point: 51.1274 lat, -1.5298 long

At the top of this road, simply keep ahead to join the footpath which climbs steadily onto Meon Hill. Towards the top, just before you reach Houghton Down Farm, a fenced garden area (holding chickens when we walked) begins on your left. Part way along this, look out for a stile within the right-hand hedgerow (keep your eyes peeled as this is quite concealed).

Turn right over this stile and follow the obvious path through the small woodland area to reach a stile at the far side. NOTE: This stile leads you directly to the edge of the A30 road, so take care with children and dogs. Cross the stile, cross over the road with care, go through the gap in the hedge ahead and then bear right, walking away from the road along the right-hand edge of the large crop field.

Stay with this field edge grass track for some distance, taking time to enjoy the views over the rolling downs. Between 1753 and 1898 a racecourse was positioned on these downs above Stockbridge and the town was a famous horse racing centre. At its peak the area had nine racing stables and the racecourse held important meetings within the racing calendar, attracting royal visitors.

The track leads you ahead and then eventually bears left. At the end of the grass track, cross a stile to reach a junction with a vehicle track.

Vehicle Track to Danebury Trig Point
Vehicle Track to Danebury Trig Point

Start point: 51.1274 lat, -1.5298 long
End point: 51.1375 lat, -1.5341 long

Turn right along the vehicle track. Further along, the track narrows to a path between hedgerows. Simply follow it all the way out to a junction with the road, Clatford Junction. At this point, you need to decide if you wish to visit Danebury Hill Fort, which does involve walking along the edge of this road for about 300 metres. The road is well used by walkers but does need extreme care. If you wish to exclude the hill fort, skip ahead to the section called Clatford Junction to Longstock. Otherwise, continue with the directions in this section.

Turn left along the road edge, taking extreme care of any traffic and using the grass verge as soon as you are able to. After 300 metres, turn left through the kissing gate (alongside a cattle grid) to enter the site of Danebury Hill Fort. Walk ahead up the driveway for a few paces and then turn left through the kissing gate at the back of the parking area. NOTE: You may come across Exmoor ponies or other animals grazing from this point, so take care with dogs. Turn right to follow the grass path, steadily uphill, with the entrance drive running on your right.

Just after passing a second parking area set within trees on your right (this parking area also contains toilets should you need them), turn right through the kissing gate and you will see an information board directly ahead. Bear left to continue up the hill (with the fence running on your left) and you will reach the trig point on Danebury Down.

Danebury Trig Point to Clatford Junction
Danebury Trig Point to Clatford Junction

Start point: 51.1375 lat, -1.5341 long
End point: 51.1367 lat, -1.522 long

From here you will have a good view ahead of the hill fort itself. Should you wish, you can extend the walk by exploring the full site, but please follow the signage about those areas with dog access restrictions. Danebury Hill Fort covers an area of 13 acres with a double bank and ditch. It was occupied by the Atrebates, a Celtic people, from about 550BC to 100BC. Excavations have revealed a detailed picture of Iron Age society including a pattern of streets, circular houses and shrines. On a clear day, the views from the fort stretch across Hampshire and far into Wiltshire.

When you have finished exploring, retrace your steps back past the two parking areas to reach the entrance at the road. Turn right along the road and grass verge (once again taking extreme care of any traffic) and continue for 300 metres to reach the road junction alongside the vehicle track from which you emerged, Clatford Junction.

Clatford Junction to Longstock
Clatford Junction to Longstock

Start point: 51.1367 lat, -1.522 long
End point: 51.132 lat, -1.488 long

Standing with your back to the vehicle track from which you emerged, do NOT take the road directly ahead, instead take the stone track at about 2 o’clock. This track leads you under a vehicle height restriction barrier to become a green lane.

Follow this green lane, which gradually transforms into a vehicle access track, for about 1.5 miles. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along this stretch of the downs. We were lucky enough to see a skylark and a kestrel overhead, as well as lots of rabbits within the verges and hedgerows. At the end you will come to a road junction within the village of Longstock, with St Mary’s Church on your right and the pretty thatched Church Cottage on your left.

Longstock to Test Way
Longstock to Test Way

Start point: 51.132 lat, -1.488 long
End point: 51.1273 lat, -1.4817 long

Turn left (taking care of traffic) for just 80 metres and then turn right into the side road, The Bunny. Follow this quiet lane, taking care of any occasional traffic, as it winds ahead leading you over several small branches of the River Test. Alongside the first branch crossing there is a handy bench should you wish to pause and enjoy the clear running water.

The clear waters of the River Test chalk stream are renowned for their trout population and are prized by fishermen. As a result, places with public access to the riverbank are very rare, with the majority of the riverbanks reserved for wealthy fishing syndicates.

As you cross the bridge over the main river branch, look to the left where you will see a thatched fishing hut, one of many dotted along the River Test. Alongside the hut you will see a row of replica metal eel traps.

30 metres before you reach the T-junction at the end of the lane, turn right onto the signed footpath. The path leads you steadily downhill to a T-junction with the disused Test Valley railway, part of the Test Way long distance path.

Test Way to End
Test Way to End

Start point: 51.1273 lat, -1.4817 long
End point: 51.114 lat, -1.4899 long

Turn right along the Test Way path and follow this, with a road running up to your left and the river valley running on your right. Further along, pass alongside a vehicle barrier and keep ahead on the now wider stone track. Eventually the Test Way continues as a wide pavement running directly alongside the A3057. Go straight ahead at the first roundabout and then right at the second roundabout to reach the eastern end of Stockbridge High Street where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

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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