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The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest

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The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest
Author: Claire, Published: 11 May 2017 Walk Rating:star1 The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide star1 The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide star1 The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide star1 The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide star1 The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide
Hampshire, Chilbolton
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide boot The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide
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0002_sunny_intervals The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide Today's weather
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0002_sunny_intervals The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide 0002_sunny_intervals The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide 0002_sunny_intervals The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide 0010_heavy_rain_showers The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide 0009_light_rain_showers The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest Walking Guide

A 7 mile circular pub walk from the Abbots Mitre in the pretty village of Chilbolton, Hampshire. The Abbots Mitre is a superb traditional village pub serving locally sourced food, with roaring open fires in the winter months and a sunny raised garden to enjoy in the summer. The walking route takes you across Chilbolton’s Cow Common to join the Test Way, crossing the idyllic River Test with chance to spot a kingfisher. The Test Way leads you all the way into Harewood Forest, an ancient broadleaf woodland with carpets of spring flowers and plenty more wildlife to enjoy.

The route has only gentle climbs and descents throughout, with nothing too steep. Many of the paths are surfaced with stone or tarmac, but there are a few unmade stretches that can get muddy in winter or after periods of rain. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate some simple gates, flights of steps and footbridges. A couple of short stretches of the Test Way are very narrow and so are prone to being a little overgrown in the height of the growing season. There is no farm livestock on route, but in the summer months you may come across conservation cattle grazing on Cow Common. The forest is criss-crossed by many paths, so we recommend using the iFootpath App’s live GPS map to aid navigation. Approximate time 3.5 hours.

The village of Chilbolton is located about 4 miles south east of Andover, and is easily accessed from the A303. The walk starts and finishes from the Abbots Mitre pub on Village Street at the centre of the village. The pub has its own car park. Approximate post code SO20 6BA.

Walk Sections

Start to Cow Common
Start to Cow Common

Start point: 51.1575 lat, -1.44 long
End point: 51.1577 lat, -1.4429 long

Leave the pub car park via the vehicle entrance and turn left along the village road, taking care of any traffic and passing the thatched village post office and stores on your right. Continue past the thatched Horseshoe Cottage on your right and ignore the gravel side road, Lynton Meadow. A few metres later (just by a 20mph sign) turn right to join a narrow footpath which runs between garden hedges.

This enclosed path leads you ahead and then turns left, before emerging to a junction with a quiet village lane. Turn right along this lane to reach a cattle grid ahead. Pass alongside this grid (via the staggered barrier or the gate) to enter the gravel parking area at the corner of Chilbolton Cow Common. (NOTE: Conservation cattle are sometimes used to graze this common).

Cow Common to Hairpin Bend
Cow Common to Hairpin Bend

Start point: 51.1577 lat, -1.4429 long
End point: 51.1655 lat, -1.4477 long

Turn right to follow the stone vehicle track. Cross the stream via the wide sleeper bridge and, a few paces later, turn left onto the path (marked with a blue TW arrow). This waymark denotes that you are now following the Test Way. The path leads you diagonally across the grass and on to reach a footbridge over a branch of the River Test.

This is the perfect spot to pause and watch for wildlife. There are usually plenty of birds taking advantage of the shallow waters. Keep your eyes peeled for the elegant, tall, white little egret wading along the river. Look carefully at the trees on the far bank, as this is a favoured spot of the local kingfisher. We were lucky enough to see him both perching and fishing on the day we walked.

Cross the footbridge and keep directly ahead, initially with trees on your right and then continuing over the centre of the grass common. The path leads you to wooden gates ahead. Pass through the kissing or bridle gate and join the raised wooden boardwalks that lead you over the main branch of the River Test. At the far side, you will emerge out to a T-junction with a quiet road. Turn left for 40 metres and then turn right onto the footpath (marked with a fingerpost). Keep ahead, passing a single property on your right and climbing a flight of steps to reach a T-junction with another path.

Turn right to reach the corner of a hillside field. Continue along the bottom boundary, with the hedgerow running on your right. Part way along this long field, fork right and follow the stone path down to a staggered barrier. Pass through this staggered barrier to reach a hairpin bend on a road.

Hairpin Bend to Harewood Forest
Hairpin Bend to Harewood Forest

Start point: 51.1655 lat, -1.4477 long
End point: 51.1779 lat, -1.4429 long

Taking care of traffic, follow the right-hand branch of the road (downhill) for 40 metres and then turn left through the fence gap to join the signed footpath (still the Test Way). Follow this narrow path (which can become a little overgrown) and it emerges to a junction of quiet residential lanes. Go straight ahead into the no-through road, Beech Grove. Follow this road ahead, with houses on your left and a few wooden workshops on your right.

At the end of the road, keep ahead on the narrow concrete path to pass the last two houses and then continue ahead on the narrow, unmade path between hedgerows. Pass down a flight of steps to reach a junction with a gravel access drive. Turn left along this and keep ahead to join the sunken, tree-lined path (signed as the Test Way).

The path climbs steadily, leading you past several impressive badger sets along the way. Once over the rise, the path descends steadily, emerging to a junction with an unmade track. Turn left and then immediately right to join the continuation of the narrow tree-lined path (passing the buildings of New Barn on your left). Follow the path (soon with wire fencing each side) as it climbs, levels off and then descends. After passing through another shallow dip you will reach a junction with a grass track, which sits at the southern edge of Harewood Forest.

Harewood Forest to Forest Footpath
Harewood Forest to Forest Footpath

Start point: 51.1779 lat, -1.4429 long
End point: 51.183 lat, -1.4272 long

Turn right along the track for just a few paces and then fork left to join the narrow path (signed as the continuation of the Test Way). This narrow path winds along the edge of the forest, with dense woodland on your left and a crop field through the tree line on your right. If you are walking in the late spring, the mass carpet of bluebells within the woodland will not have escaped your notice.

When you draw level with the top of the crop field on your right, stay with your path which swings right to reach a waymarker post. Go straight ahead here on the Test Way (ignoring the path on your left), still following the woodland edge with the crop field on your right. At the far corner of the crop field, go straight ahead to join the stone and grass vehicle track.

Pass the deserted black and white buildings of Park Farm on your left and then turn left (still on the Test Way) to follow the stone vehicle track leading you downhill into the forest. At the bottom of the slope, stay with the main stone track which bends right to reach a staggered crossroads. Turn right (still following the Test Way) and follow the concrete track leading you past a long grass clearing on your right.

You will come to a metal vehicle gate ahead. Pass through the gap alongside this and, just a few paces later, look out for a waymarker post on your left. It is at this point we leave the Test Way to join one of the un-named public footpaths through the forest. Turn left at this junction to join the forest footpath, marked with a yellow arrow.

Forest Footpath to Popple Hill Crossroads
Forest Footpath to Popple Hill Crossroads

Start point: 51.183 lat, -1.4272 long
End point: 51.1877 lat, -1.4435 long

Keep ahead on this footpath, which leads you to a fork at a waymarker post. Take the left-hand path and follow this climbing steadily through the trees. You will have noticed that this, and many of the other forest paths, are surfaced with concrete, stone or tarmac. This is a reminder of the past, when Harewood Forest was home to a munitions storage site during World War II. Many of the vehicle tracks, Nissan huts and other structures can still be seen dotted around. The woodland itself remains seemingly unaffected by this past patriotic role. Harewood Forest is the second largest ancient woodland in Hampshire and you may spot deer if you walk quietly.

After about 700 metres, you will come to a subtle crossroads of paths (most easily identified by the cylindrical concrete blocks and large rusty chain on your right). Turn left at this crossroads, passing the fallen remains of a metal gate on your right. Beyond this fallen gate, the path becomes more obvious, leading you in a straight line (heading west) through the woodland.

At the first junction, keep ahead to merge with a concrete vehicle track. At the second junction (with a grass island and side tracks to your right), continue straight ahead. Continue to the next (third) junction where you will see a surfaced track on your left and a large, circular, corrugated-iron covered bunker on your right. This is the crossroads alongside the section of forest known as Popple Hill Copse.

Popple Hill Crossroads to New Barn
Popple Hill Crossroads to New Barn

Start point: 51.1877 lat, -1.4435 long
End point: 51.1741 lat, -1.4461 long

Turn left onto the surfaced vehicle track for just a few metres and, just before this track swings left, fork right to join an unmade woodland path. Stay with the obvious path leading you ahead. At the first junction (a crossroads with a vehicle track), go straight ahead to continue on the unmade footpath (marked with a yellow arrow).

The path leads you steadily downhill, emerging to a second junction (this time a crossroads with a grass track). Turn left along the grass track for just 20 paces to reach a waymarker post alongside the remains of an old, tall, metal kissing gate. Turn right here (before the kissing gate) to join a path marked with a yellow arrow. This unmade path leads you steadily uphill (initially with the remains of a wire fence on your left).

At the top, you will come to a waymarker post marking a path crossroads (with a crop field ahead). (You may recognise this junction from the outward leg, and from this point you will be retracing your steps back to the Abbots Mitre. However, don’t despair, if your memory isn’t up to this task, the full turn-by-turn directions continue to guide you!).

Turn right to join the Test Way and follow this as it swings left around the edge of the woodland, with the crop field across to your left. At the end of this narrow path you will reach a junction with a grass track. Turn right for a few paces and then turn left to join the footpath leading you through a tunnel of trees. Follow this path until you emerge to a junction, with the buildings of New Barn on your right.

New Barn to River Boardwalks
New Barn to River Boardwalks

Start point: 51.1741 lat, -1.4461 long
End point: 51.1624 lat, -1.4496 long

Cross the track and go straight ahead to continue on the tree-lined Test Way path. Simply follow this path until you reach a fork (at a junction with a gravel driveway). Fork right, heading up the gravel driveway and, immediately before the property gates, turn right up the steps to join the narrow hedge-lined path. Emerge to, and then keep ahead along, the residential road, Beech Grove. At the end of this road, take the left-hand of the two driveways ahead and, a few paces along, fork right to join the narrow path between hedgerows.

This path leads you out to a junction with a road. Given the nature of the bend you need to approach, cross over to the far road edge and turn right along this (against normal road-walking advice). At the hairpin bend, go straight ahead through the staggered barrier to reach the edge of a grass hillside field.

Bear left to follow the bottom boundary of this field. After passing the large white house on your left, lovely views across the tree-tops of the Test Valley open up to your left. In the field corner, walk ahead into the trees and then turn immediately left to join the narrow path which leads you down some steps and out to the road. Turn left along the road and, immediately after the thatched West Mill cottage on your right, turn right onto the signed bridleway. This leads you onto the raised boardwalks across the River Test.

River Boardwalks to End
River Boardwalks to End

Start point: 51.1624 lat, -1.4496 long
End point: 51.1577 lat, -1.4398 long

Cross the boardwalks, pass through the gate at the far side and keep ahead on the main stone path leading into Cow Common. Where the stone path ends, simply continue along the grass path which leads you to another footbridge. Cross the bridge and follow the stone path ahead to reach choice of grass paths (just before a tree). Take the right-hand path (about 1 o’clock) which leads you to a T-junction with the vehicle track.

Turn right along the track to reach Cow Common car park. Turn left, passing alongside the cattle grid and continuing along the village lane. Pass the pretty row of white thatched cottages and, immediately afterwards, turn left to join the narrow, enclosed footpath. Follow this ahead and then right to emerge onto the main village road. Turn left for just a short distance to reach the Abbots Mitre on your right, for some well-earned hospitality.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


5 Comments for: "The Abbots Mitre and Harewood Forest"

full of butterflies, and magical views, a lovely walk today in the sun.

By em79 on 15 Jul 2018

We did this walk yesterday. Excellent directions. Will definitely do this walk again to see the bluebells in bloom.

By hevvie on 25 Mar 2018

Did the walk today, great little walk with pub at the end.

By Cooper645 on 27 Jan 2018

Did this walk today. Excellent directions. Nice walk to take in this super countryside.

By Kidgell on 08 Oct 2017

We did this walk yesterday. The section over the River Test is really beautiful, and Harewood Forest feels truly remote and peaceful, with the distant hum of the A303 only just perceptible. The directions were spot on. Recommended!

By keithbarker on 18 Sep 2017

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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