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|Beacon Hill and Exton|
|Author: Claire, Published: 01 Jul 2016||Walk rating : Rating:|
|Hampshire, South Downs|
|A 7 mile circular walk from the Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve on the South Downs, near Warnford in Hampshire. (NOTE: There are two Beacon Hills in Hampshire, this is the one near Warnford, not the one near Burghclere). This peaceful circuit takes you through the rolling landscape of the Meon Valley, following quiet tracks and paths across chalk grassland and through beautiful sections of dense woodland. About two thirds of the way round, the route leads you through the pretty village of Exton with thatched cottages, a beautiful church and the River Meon flowing through the bottom of the pub garden. At the summit of Beacon Hill you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Solent and Isle of Wight. |
The walk has several climbs and descents throughout, including a fairly steep climb up to the top of Beacon Hill at the end. The paths can be very muddy at times and the chalk can also be slippery so good boots are a must. You will need to negotiate several gates plus 12 stiles (all of which either have gaps alongside for most dogs to pass through or should be low enough for dogs to hop over). On the outward leg to reach Exton village most of the paths are enclosed tracks but you will cross two pastures that may be holding cattle (although they were empty when we walked). The return leg follows the South Downs Way and you have a choice to follow the walkers route (which crosses multiple cattle pastures and includes 6 of the stiles) or the bridleway route which follows a quiet lane. Approximate time 3.5 hours.
The walk starts at the unmade countryside car park for Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve (which has parking for about 10 cars in amongst the trees) located about 2 miles west of the A32 at Warnford. The post code SO32 3LB will take you to Warnford village from where you will need to follow these directions. Head south through Warnford on the A32 and, immediately after passing the flint garden wall of Warnford House and a small triangular green on your right, turn right into the unsigned side road (Wheely Down Road). Follow this lane for 1.8 miles, go straight ahead at the first tiny crossroads (don’t blink or you may miss this) and then turn sharp left at the larger staggered crossroads (onto Beacon Hill Lane). Follow the lane for 0.6 miles and you will find the unmade parking area on your left (on a right-hand bend in the lane).
|Start to Lomer Farm|
Start point: 51.0011 lat, -1.1484 long
From the Beacon Hill car park do NOT take any of the gates into the woodland, instead turn right along the tarmac lane (taking care of occasional traffic). Where the road bends right, go straight ahead through the bridle gate to join the stone track, signed as the South Downs Way. Between the gaps in the trees to your left, make sure you get a glimpse of the expansive views (these are just a taste of things to come later).
|Lomer Farm to Betty Mundy's Bottom|
Start point: 51.0099 lat, -1.1587 long
Turn left here (signed as the South Downs Way) passing between the farm outbuildings. Keep straight ahead, passing two brick houses on your right, to reach the next fingerpost. Do NOT turn right along the South Downs Way (as marked by this sign), instead turn left passing a timber clad building on your right. Keep ahead to join the stone track marked as Footpath Only. You are now following part of the long distance path called the Wayfarer’s Walk, a 70 mile path which runs from Walbury Hill in Berkshire to Emsworth in Hampshire. The walking route has been created to follow an ancient route used by drovers to export cattle.
|Betty Mundy's Bottom to Sailor's Lane|
Start point: 50.9969 lat, -1.1748 long
Turn right and follow this path with the woodland to your left and the crop field to your right. In the field corner, bear left through a gate to join an enclosed path between fences. (The property beyond the hedgerow to your right is called Betty Mundy’s Cottage). Follow the path as it turns left leading you to the corner of Kings Copse, a pretty beech woodland.
|Sailor's Lane to Beacon Hill Lane|
Start point: 50.9888 lat, -1.1724 long
Cross over the lane with care and go straight ahead through the next staggered barrier to join the signed footpath. Keep straight ahead on this narrow path which soon leads you through a tunnel of trees. Beyond the stretch, keep straight ahead to join the stone track which leads you through Corhampton Forest. Stay with this track for about 800 metres, ignoring any tracks to the side.
|Beacon Hill Lane to Shoe Lane|
Start point: 50.9844 lat, -1.1537 long
Cross over with care and take the stone access lane directly ahead (signed as unsuitable for motor vehicles). Pass Combe Cottage on your right and stay with the rock and chalk track which leads you quite steeply downhill through a tunnel of trees. NOTE: This path is very uneven and can be slippery when wet so take particular care.
|Shoe Lane to End|
Start point: 50.9836 lat, -1.1289 long
Turn left along Shoe Lane and this leads you between the village pub on your left and its riverside garden on your right (it’s worth a detour into the garden to see the River Meon). Continue along Shoe Lane, with the river running across to your right and a small stream running in front of the houses to your left. At the T-junction, turn left and you will pass the Church of St Peter and St Paul on your right, dating from the 1200s. Follow the lane as it swings left, passing the Old Rectory. Immediately after Glebe Cottage on your right (and just before the lane swings left) look for a stone track on your right, signed for the South Downs Way Walkers Temporary Route. (NOTE: The temporary word denotes the fact that there is some controversy about the routing of the South Downs here, with some believing that this fragile chalk environment is not suitable for a popular long-distance path).
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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