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From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen

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From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen
Author: Claire, Published: 30 Sep 2012 Walk Rating:star1 From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide star1 From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide star1 From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide star1 From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide star0 From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide
Hampshire, Alton
Walk Type: History trail
From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide boot From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular walk from the tiny Hampshire village of Chawton, within the South Downs National Park. The walk starts from the former home of author Jane Austen which now houses a museum. The route passes through woodland and farmland to reach the nearby village of Upper Farringdon before returning along a disused railway line. Along the way you’ll see a few of the places that Jane enjoyed visiting when living in Chawton from 1809 to 1817. Aside from the literary connections, the Hampshire scenery is really beautiful, transporting you into peaceful traditional countryside and quaint villages teeming with thatched cottages. If you want refreshments before or after your walk then The Greyfriar pub is a great find and just a few yards along the road from the car park.

The route has a few steady climbs and descents. There are a few kissing gates plus six stiles. Whilst most of the stiles are low with open fencing, making them easy for humans and dogs, the penultimate one is very tall and has wire fencing across so dogs (and some humans!) may need a hand over. The paths are mostly well made but the woodland and field paths can be muddy after periods of wet weather. One of the fields is likely to be holding sheep so take care with dogs. Approximate time 2 hours.

The road into Chawton village is accessed from the roundabout where the A31 crosses the A32, between Alton and Winchester. The walk starts from the free village car park in Chawton, which is opposite Jane Austen's House Museum and alongside the tea room and pub. If the car park is full, there is additional roadside parking on the ‘no through road’ branch of Winchester Road which is signed to Chawton House and St Nicholas Church. Approximate post code GU34 1SB.

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Walk Sections

Start to Chawton House
Start to Chawton House

Start point: 51.1327 lat, -0.9887 long
End point: 51.1286 lat, -0.9913 long

From the free village car park, return to the main road alongside Cassandra’s Cup tea room. On the opposite side of the road you will see Jane Austen’s House Museum.

The museum is open daily in the summer and weekends only in winter and entrance fees apply. You may wish to explore the museum before or after your walk. The house was Jane’s home (along with her mother and sister) from 1809 to 1817, the last eight years of her life. It is a large 17th-century house, preserved in her memory, and where she wrote the novels Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion.

Facing the museum, turn left along the pavement of Winchester Road signed to St Nicholas Church and Chawton House. Continue ahead passing the primary school on the right and, further along, Home Farm on the left. Immediately afterwards on the left you will see Chawton House and St Nicholas Church, both of which have strong connections to the Austen family.

Chawton House is a Grade ll listed Elizabethan manor house which was formerly the home of Jane Austen's brother, Edward Austen Knight. Edward had been adopted by his fourth cousin, Thomas Knight, adopting his name and inheriting his estate. Jane’s house in the village was part of the estate and provided by her brother. Chawton House has been extensively restored and is now ‘The Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing, 1600-1830’. It incorporates Chawton House Library which opened in 2003, and holds a collection of more than 9,000 books together with related original manuscripts. Chawton House is the venue of the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom. The graves within the grounds of St Nicholas Church include those of Jane’s mother and sister, both called Cassandra.

Chawton House to Berryhill Plantation
Chawton House to Berryhill Plantation

Start point: 51.1286 lat, -0.9913 long
End point: 51.1177 lat, -0.9891 long

Keep ahead past the vehicle barrier and continue to the end of the tarmac lane. Here fork left onto the narrow footpath through a belt of trees. Cross over a stile to reach a fenced woodland track running parallel to the road on the right.

Keep ahead, cross a second stile and at the end of the fenced path cross a third stile into an open pasture (note this is likely to be holding sheep so keep dogs on leads). Cross diagonally left through the pasture on the fairly obvious path, climbing gradually uphill. At the top, cross the stile and continue on the track through the belt of trees. Keep straight ahead on the track as it passes between open crop fields.

You will reach the next belt of the trees, Berryhill Plantation, which are private woods. Go straight ahead, keeping to the track which acts as the public right of way through the private land.

Berryhill Plantation to All Saints Church
Berryhill Plantation to All Saints Church

Start point: 51.1177 lat, -0.9891 long
End point: 51.1138 lat, -0.9836 long

As the track gradually climbs you will soon find it flanked by distinctive Giant Redwood trees, an ancient species native to California. At the top of the slope take time to enjoy the views over the valleys to both sides.

This route between Chawton and Upper Farringdon was most likely known well by Jane Austen. Whilst writing took up much of her time, family life and socialising were also important aspects of her life. Jane and her sister spent a lot of time entertaining their nieces and nephews, playing the piano, sewing and walking both for pleasure and to visit friends.

Follow the track as it begins to descend, now lined with yew trees. You will reach a cross roads of tracks with houses directly ahead. Turn left and follow the concrete track as it passes between properties and farm outbuildings. Opposite the drive to Manor House on the left, turn right down the track. Keep left at the fork within the track to pass through the lych gate to enter the grounds of All Saints Church. Keep ahead to reach the church porch on your left.

All Saints Church to Parsonage Close
All Saints Church to Parsonage Close

Start point: 51.1138 lat, -0.9836 long
End point: 51.1126 lat, -0.9858 long

Reverend John Benn was based at All Saints Church from 1797 to 1857 and his family were particular friends of the Austens.

Turn right following the gravel path out of the church yard. As you reach the village lane, turn left. Turn right into Crows Lane and follow it to its end with a pub on the left. At the junction, turn right signed to Alton. Continue along the road between attractive properties. Look out on the right for the white washed property, Brownings Orchard with its pristine topiary birds in the front garden.

Turn right again into Church Road. Where the road bends hard right, turn left into Parsonage Close and then turn immediately right onto the footpath just before the telephone box.

Parsonage Close to Meon Valley Railway
Parsonage Close to Meon Valley Railway

Start point: 51.1126 lat, -0.9858 long
End point: 51.1137 lat, -0.9987 long

Follow the path with properties to the left, and you’ll reach the crossroads you passed earlier on the walk. Turn left here and follow the track descending all the way down to reach a T-junction with the main road, A32. Cross over the road with care and take the lane opposite.

Follow this quiet lane climbing gradually. A few paces before you pass over the brick walled bridge ahead, fork right down the steps marked with a public footpath sign. Keep right, then left, then right to join the Meon Valley disused railway track.

Meon Valley Railway to A32
Meon Valley Railway to A32

Start point: 51.1137 lat, -0.9987 long
End point: 51.1303 lat, -0.9939 long

The Meon Valley Railway was a 22 mile cross-country railway that ran between Alton and Fareham on the south coast. It was authorised in 1896 and opened in 1903, making it one of the last major railways to be built in the UK. It was closed to passengers in 1955 and finally closed completely in 1968. Shortly after the closure, the line was used to film the first of the ‘Milk Tray Man’ adverts, where the character jumps onto the roof of a moving train.

Follow the disused railway and keep straight on at the cross roads by farm buildings. Some distance further, ignore the track to the right and instead keep ahead to pass under the brick arched bridge. As the stone track ends, keep straight ahead on the grass footpath between arable fields, passing to the right of a pair of cherry trees.

At the top of the field, follow the grass path as it swings right and then a little further on as it swings left into a small copse of trees. As you emerge from the trees keep right on the field edge path and ahead you will come to a metal kissing gate just before the main A32.

A32 to End
A32 to End

Start point: 51.1303 lat, -0.9939 long
End point: 51.1315 lat, -0.9895 long

Go through the kissing gate, down the steps and cross over the road with care. Go up the steps opposite and over the stile ahead (note this one is quite high and enclosed with wire mesh so dogs and some people may need a hand here). Follow the enclosed path with horse paddocks on the left and pass over another (lower) stile. Continue for a few paces and you will emerge into a residential road.

Continue ahead to reach the T-junction with Winchester Road, which you walked along earlier. Turn left back along the road to reach the village and car park. Take time to explore the beautiful village and its literary connections should you wish. If you want refreshments then The Greyfriar pub is just a few paces beyond the car park (see iPhone App Visit tab for details).

Of her Chawton home, Jane Austen wrote: ‘Our Chawton home – how much we find; already in it, to our mind; and how convinced that when complete; it will all other houses beat; that ever have been made or mended; with rooms concise or rooms distended.’

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

10 comments for "From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen"

Really pretty houses to add interest. Very lovely walk up to the Rose and Crown including the church ⛪ last half less interesting.

By Harrietm54 on 17 Feb 2018

Lovely walk and easy to follow. Doggie happy too and only had to carry her over one stile towards the start of the walk. The Rose & Crown in Farringdon looked a good pub but we chose the Greyfriars which was very average for Sunday lunch.

By robinldn on 04 Feb 2018

Easy to follow, good walk and not hard going at all. A couple of muddy patches but nothing a well chosen step or two couldn't fix.

By Useless154 on 07 Jan 2018

Directions were easy to follow and very accurate. A really pleasant walk, not to taxing with some beautiful views.

By Ranger1964 on 06 May 2017

Great walk well described

By Alexdennis on 25 Oct 2016

An easy gentle walk - a bit "dry" for hot dogs on a hot day unless anyone spotted a decent stream - field watertanks very iffy

By Alexdennis on 01 Sep 2016

Pleasant, easy, varied walk. Easy to follow directions.

By GordonSimpso on 24 Jul 2016

Gina Hall: Completed the 5 mile circular walk around Chawton yesterday. Visited the tea rooms at both start and end of the walk and would recommend it. As well as the Library you can also visit Jane Austen's home (charge). Loved the walk as it was not only in wonderful countryside but included churches, tea rooms and pubs in Chawton and Farringdon.

By Facebook on 31 May 2016

Beautiful views to be had, directions we're easy to follow. Stopped at The Rose and Crown in Farringdon for a sandwich and beer, both very nice. Altogether a lovely day.

By Barry1234 on 21 May 2015

Pretty route with a few options to stop for refreshments. Directions described were 'bang on' and easy to follow.

By ibumtigers on 07 Oct 2014

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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