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West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail

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West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 18 May 2018 Walk Rating:star1 West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guidestar1 West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guidestar1 West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guidestar1 West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guidestar0 West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guide
Hampshire, South Downs
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guide boot West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail Walking Guide
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A circular walk of just over 4 miles from the small hamlet of West Tisted in Hampshire, within the South Downs. This is a gem of a walk, with just the right mix of magical woodland and rolling open countryside that rewards you with stunning views. Along the way you will visit two churches, the village church dating from the 1100s as well as the tiny church in the woods, built to enable those working on the common to visit church every Sunday.

The walk has several steady climbs and descents throughout, but there are no steep sections. It follows a mixture of farm tracks, field edge paths and woodland paths plus a short section of road walking along a quiet country lane. Whilst most of the paths are wide and well-made, there is one short narrow stretch that can be overgrown in the summer (so shorts are not advised) and some of the unmade woodland paths can get churned and muddy (so good boots are a must, or wellies in the winter). You will not be sharing any of the paths with livestock, as all pastures are fenced away from the paths. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate several gates. Allow 2 hours.

West Tisted is located about 7 miles northwest of Petersfield and is accessed just off the A32. The walk starts and finishes directly outside the entrance path for the church, marked with a small wooden gate with a black metal arch overhead. As you enter the village from the east, follow the village road as it bends right and, after a row of houses and old barn, you will see the church entrance path on your left (with a wooden fingerpost on your right). There are a couple of roadside parking spots at this point. Approximate post code SO24 0HL.

Walk Sections

Start to Byway
Start to Byway

Start point: 51.0587 lat, -1.0722 long
End point: 51.0601 lat, -1.0731 long

Before you begin the walk, it is worth visiting the beautiful village church, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. Head through the wooden gate (under the black metal arch) and follow the gravel path ahead. Part way along, look out for the giant red tree trunk on your right, a beautiful specimen of a Giant Redwood tree. These trees are native to California but were popular features in landscaped gardens of manor houses. The gravel path leads you over a moat bridge and into the churchyard.

Alongside the church is an ancient yew tree, estimated to be more than a thousand years old. The beautiful flint church stands in the grounds of the original manor house and dates from the 1100s. The porch is a later addition and was given as a gift from Magdalen College, Oxford in 1750. The church is normally open should you wish to look inside. A monthly evensong service is still held here, along with a monthly coffee morning and a small village library has also been established inside the church. The pulpit is embellished with the shields of Magdalen College, Winchester Diocese and Canterbury.

When you have finished at the church, retrace your steps back along the gravel path to reach the road and turn left along this. You will pass the gates of the current manor house on your left and then the estate office and farm buildings of Manor Estate also on your left. The village has a tiny population of just 137 and the majority of the village is owned by Manor Estate. Housing around the nucleus of the village is let to estate workers. Notice the blue window paintwork on the estate offices, you will see this estate colour replicated on farm gates later in the walk.

Immediately after passing the estate buildings on your left, turn left onto a tarmac side access road, a public highway and byway (and marked with a sign stating Caution: Agricultural Vehicles Operating).

Byway to Bramdean Common
Byway to Bramdean Common

Start point: 51.0601 lat, -1.0731 long
End point: 51.0604 lat, -1.0886 long

Keep straight ahead to reach the end of the farm buildings and then continue ahead on the tarmac byway as it leads you downhill between trees and hedgerows. At the bottom of the slope you will pass a single house (St Christopher’s) on your left to reach a fork in the track (with beautiful views ahead).

Take the right-hand branch, a stone farm track that winds ahead between crop fields. Part way along, the stone track changes into a grass track which leads you directly to a wide gate at the start of the woodland known as Bramdean Common.

Bramdean Common to Church in the Woods
Bramdean Common to Church in the Woods

Start point: 51.0604 lat, -1.0886 long
End point: 51.0589 lat, -1.0998 long

Pass through the gate to reach a junction of three stone tracks. Go straight ahead on the track leading you through the centre of the woodland common. Bramdean Common is a mosaic of beech, hazel, and oak coppice and at one time the coppiced trees were used to produce charcoal.

Continue ahead until you reach a junction of paths (normally surrounded by timber tracks), where the main track swings left. Do NOT follow this, instead go straight ahead on the smaller woodland path. Continue for about 400 metres to pass a fenced building on your left and reach a major junction (which can be very churned and muddy).

Our route continues to the right shortly, but first we visit the tiny Church in the Woods. Turn left for a few paces then turn left again through the metal gate to enter the small churchyard. A dainty brick path leads you to the church itself. The iron church, sometimes called a tin tabernacle, was built in 1883 at the instigation of the Rector of Bramdean. A simple construction of corrugated iron sheets and timber frame, the church took just five days to construct.

It was placed here to allow commoners, charcoal burners and resident gypsies to attend church. A strange sight today, in fact this type of iron church was fairly popular at the time. Population growth was rapid and a new enthusiasm for church and chapel building began. The new flat pack corrugated church allowed missionary churches to spring up wherever there was a need. Local populations could build them for themselves, but they could also be sent overseas. The corrugated buildings started to be mass produced and were sold through catalogues. When the Rector’s widow died in 1893, her will included a trust to ensure the future of the church. An evensong service is still held here about ten times per year.

Church in the Woods to Narrow Woodland Belt
Church in the Woods to Narrow Woodland Belt

Start point: 51.0589 lat, -1.0998 long
End point: 51.0663 lat, -1.0935 long

When you have finished at the church, exit through the front gate and turn right to return to the main path junction (with the path from which you originally emerged on your right). Go straight ahead here (the paths aren’t clear to begin with, but don’t worry) to pick up a narrow stone track, soon passing a waymarker post on your right with a blue bridleway arrow.

Keep ahead on this path, going straight ahead at the first two crossroads. At the third major junction, ignore the blue arrow which points left, instead keep ahead on the wide grassy ride. Continue ahead for about 250 metres, ignoring a path signed to the right and passing along an avenue of cherry trees, to reach a path T-junction.

Turn left and you will come to another T-junction (with a bridleway fingerpost to your right). Turn right here to pass this fingerpost within an old section of fencing and keep ahead to reach an old fallen tree. Bear right as you pass alongside the tree and follow the path through the narrow woodland belt, with fields visible through the trees each side. This woodland belt is home to coppiced hazels and has pretty bluebells and wild garlic in the spring months.

Narrow Woodland Belt to Stapley Lane
Narrow Woodland Belt to Stapley Lane

Start point: 51.0663 lat, -1.0935 long
End point: 51.0684 lat, -1.075 long

Keep ahead, passing through a gap in the trees where power lines pass overhead, and continue on a second stretch through the woodland belt. At the far end you will reach a crossroads of paths. Turn right to join the stone track (marked with the red arrow for a byway). Follow this old byway which is lined with raised banks, comprising a network of old tree roots, mosses, ivy and ferns. The woodland to your left is known as Lyeland Wood.

Continue just until the woodland on your left ends, where you will see a fingerpost and old wooden gate on your left. Turn left at this point, leaving the byway and joining the signed bridleway with a tree line on your left and open crop field on your right. At the end of the first field, pass through the wide hedge gap and bear left to continue along the left-hand edge of a second large crop field. At the far side, pass through an old gateway ahead and follow the enclosed path with trees on your left and fenced pastures on your right. At the end of the pastures, keep ahead on the enclosed path. You will pass a house on your right and emerge out to a junction with a lane, Stapley Lane.

Stapley Lane to End
Stapley Lane to End

Start point: 51.0684 lat, -1.075 long
End point: 51.059 lat, -1.0721 long

Taking care of any traffic, turn right to follow the lane leading you uphill. At the top of the first rise, you will reach a fingerpost on your right and blue metal gates on your left. Take a moment here to enjoy the views back across Bramdean Common on your right. At this point you have choices:

If you wish to follow a shortcut back to the start (avoiding a short stretch of path which can get a little overgrown) simply continue on the lane for a further 0.6 miles to reach West Tisted where the walk began.

For the full route, turn left through the small blue gate and continue ahead on the stone and grass track, which leads you between crop fields and directly away from the road. You will have beautiful views across the valley to your left. Just a few paces after a tall hedgerow begins on your right, look for waymarker post on your right. Fork right, heading for a wide farm gate, and turn right immediately before this gate to join a narrow, enclosed path (which can be a little overgrown – but it isn’t very long) with a wire fence on your left.

The path leads you past a sunken pond on your right before emerging to a field corner. Bear left to continue on the wide grass path with a fence (then hedgerow) on your left and a crop field on your right. At the end of the field you will reach a T-junction with a stone farm track. Turn right to join the track and follow it as it bends left. Stay with the stone track as it bends right (ignoring the signed grass footpath ahead) and the track leads you to a wide blue gate ahead. Pass through the gap to the left of the gate and turn left along the lane for just a short distance to reach West Tisted (with the church on your right) where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


2 comments for "West Tisted Commons and Churches Trail"

Could not find the parking suggested near the start. Parked at the village hall. Would recommend the walk.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Glad you enjoyed the walk. There is no car park at the start, just roadside parking on the village street outside the church.

By anyavincent0 on 19 Aug 2018

22/5/18 - would recommend the shortcut near the end of the walk to avoid the now very overgrown narrow path. Will not be a problem at other times of the year.

By MaryRose1 on 22 May 2018

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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