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Buriton and the South Downs Way

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Buriton and the South Downs Way
Author: Claire, Published: 01 Aug 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star0 Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar0 Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar0 Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar0 Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar0 Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guide
Hampshire, Petersfield
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Buriton and the South Downs Way
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guide boot Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guide boot Buriton and the South Downs Way Walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular walk from the village of Buriton near Petersfield in Hampshire. Buriton is an idyllic village with two pubs, a large duck pond, a Norman church and lots of pretty cottages. The walking route climbs steeply up the chalk escarpment of the South Downs, visiting the Buriton Chalk Pits which once supplied the thriving lime kiln industry. After following a short stretch of the South Downs Way, with lovely views, the route descends back into the village passing through woodland and fields.

The walk follows chalk tracks and paths for the main, which can get very muddy and slippery after wet weather. There is a fairly steep and long climb near the start and the equivalent descent towards the end. There are no stiles on route, just two kissing gates and some shallow steps (although these obstacles can also be avoided if necessary). Some of the tracks are deeply rutted and uneven and so the route is not suitable for pushchairs. The final stretch follows the edge of a quiet country lane so take care of traffic at this point. One stretch follows a narrow fenced footpath which is prone to becoming overgrown in late summer (although an alternative route along the road can be used instead if necessary). Allow 1 to 1.5 hours (depending on the conditions underfoot).

Buriton is a small village in East Hampshire, about 2 miles south of Petersfield. The walk starts and finishes in the free gravel car park alongside St Mary’s Church and the village duck pond (at the junction between High Street and North Lane). Approximate post code GU31 5RT.

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Walk Sections

Start to Buriton Chalk Pits
Start to Buriton Chalk Pits

Start point: 50.9748 lat, -0.9476 long
End point: 50.9731 lat, -0.9534 long

The walk begins outside St Mary’s Church. St Mary’s has a long history. There has been a church on this site since at least 1086 when the previous church was listed in the Domesday Book. The building you see today has its origins in the late 1100s, including the font which is made of Purbeck marble. The west end window is a memorial to John Goodyer, a famous botanist born in the late 1500s, who is buried in the churchyard.

Standing with your back to the church gates and tower, walk directly ahead down the tarmac access slope and then keep straight ahead on the left-hand pavement of High Street, passing the large village duck pond on your left. Immediately after the pond, turn left into South Lane (signed as Hangars Way to Queen Elizabeth Country Park). Follow this small lane, with the pond still on your left.

Today the pond is a picturesque village feature, enjoyed by locals and visitors as an ideal picnic spot and home to a variety of ducks, coots and moorhens. Once, however, it played a vital part of village life. Carts and carriages were brought here to be washed and horses were watered at the pond after a hard day of work in the chalk pits. The area had a number of hop gardens and water from the pond was used for hop washing each year.

Stay with the tarmac lane as it swings right (away from the pond) and then left, leading you past a row of pretty cottages on your left. The lane becomes a gravel track, leading you steadily uphill under the railway bridge and then climbing more steeply. To your left is a beautiful steep-sided gully, filled with moisture-loving ferns.

Ignore the footpath off to the right, simply keep ahead on the main bridleway and you will come to a sign for the chalk pits and a small fork. Stay on the right-hand path (the main bridleway) with a wire fence running on your right. A little way along you will see a sunken path off to the left, marking the entrance for the Buriton Chalk Pits. The main route continues ahead, but first we take a small detour into the old pits. Turn left down the shallow steps and pass the old chalk-filled railway wagon on your right. About 50 metres along, take the left-hand branch at the fork and keep left again a few paces later. You will emerge into a grass clearing, the smaller of the two quarries.

Buriton Chalk Pits to South Downs Way
Buriton Chalk Pits to South Downs Way

Start point: 50.9731 lat, -0.9534 long
End point: 50.9728 lat, -0.956 long

For about 70 years up until World War II there was a great deal of industry on these chalk slopes. Scores of workers excavated the chalk ready for burning in a series of lime kilns. During the war, the admiralty used the site for enemy mine disposal. The site was then abandoned and it subsequently became a nature reserve, now rich in flora and fauna.

When you have finished at the small quarry, retrace your steps back to the main bridleway and turn left to continue your journey up the hill. Follow this bridleway, climbing steeply, ignoring the first side path on the right (down some steps) and going ahead at the first minor crossroads (with a kissing gate on the left and a carved bench on your right). At the top of the rise, you will pass the chalk pits pond on your right and then emerge into a parking area (marking the crossroads with the South Downs Way).

South Downs Way to Coulters Dean Farm
South Downs Way to Coulters Dean Farm

Start point: 50.9728 lat, -0.956 long
End point: 50.9699 lat, -0.9366 long

Turn left along the tarmac lane, signed as a no-through-road. Follow this lane, climbing steadily, and at the brow of the rise ignore the footpath signed to the right. Continue along the lane, still part of the South Downs Way, passing some cottages on your right and then keeping ahead along the stone track.

The track meanders ahead for a while, then leads you up another fairly steep slope before descending gently and leading you under power lines. At this point the views to your left, north-east, open up and on a clear day stretch for miles all the way to the North Downs ridge. At the bottom of the slope, the stone track becomes tarmac once again, leading you past Coulters Dean Farm on your right.

Coulters Dean Farm to Buriton House
Coulters Dean Farm to Buriton House

Start point: 50.9699 lat, -0.9366 long
End point: 50.9785 lat, -0.9394 long

Continue ahead on the tarmac access lane and follow it as it swings left (still signed as the South Downs Way). Just before the lane swings right, turn left onto the stone track signed as a Public Byway. This track is known locally as the Milky Way, due to its white chalk surface. NOTE: The track can get very muddy at times.

Further along, the track descends very steeply (take care) and at the bottom stay with the track as it swings hard right. Fairly soon, you will see a kissing gate on the left. This would be a shortcut back to the church, should you wish to take this. Otherwise, keep straight ahead on the main track which later becomes a sunken track with steep fern-covered sides and a canopy of trees overhead. You will emerge to a T-junction with Pitcroft Lane. Turn left, taking care of occasional traffic, and you will pass the entrance gates for Buriton House on your left.

Buriton House to End
Buriton House to End

Start point: 50.9785 lat, -0.9394 long
End point: 50.975 lat, -0.9476 long

A few metres later, just before you reach the road junction, turn left up the stone steps to join the signed footpath. (NOTE: This path includes these steps, two kissing gates and can be overgrown in later summer so, if you prefer, you can simply turn left at the road junction and follow this road, North Lane, back to the starting point).

Follow this path through the trees and soon it continues with a fence on your left. Stay with the path as it turns left, right and right again along an enclosed section and you will come to a kissing gate ahead. Go through this into the field (which is occasionally used for grazing sheep) and walk straight ahead, staying close to the left-hand boundary. At the far side, pass through the kissing gate and continue ahead on the woodland path. You will emerge out onto North Lane, directly opposite Pillmead House. Bear left along the road, taking care of any traffic, and the road will lead you directly back to the church in Buriton 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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