Friday, 20 February 2015

Linkenholt and Vernham Dean

Out walking with my friend Merv today in a quiet area of Hampshire South West of Newbury and North of Andover. We start in the hamlet of Linkenholt and walk along the road past the church and school, both of 1871.

We pass the large, but restrained (i.e not very striking) Edwardian Manor House and head north, soon following the line of a shallow curving valley. It is attractive, but the light is so grey that it was not worth a photo. The path then leads through Combe Wood and at the end crosses the Test Way where we take the left hand of two further dry valley paths. This is the right hand one, which was a little more photogenic.

At the end we turn left along a track which offers wide open views of the hills towards the west.

This brings us down into Vernham Dean, where we enjoyed a thatched cottage on the right with its topiary hedges and chimney-tower.

This small village is very attractive and we had a nice lunch in the 17th century George pub, second from the left in the picture.

We headed south from Vernham Dean and then east towards Upton, with more rolling hills ahead.

This is the view towards Upton across the fields.

Having established for research purposes that Upton's pub, The Crown, was still open, we headed north along a muddy track where our route was enlivened by a wonderful drift of Snowdrops off to the left.

After a while we joined the Test Way, which now seemed rather like a classic drove road, and followed it to the outskirts of Linkenholt where we regained the car.

As this was our second encounter with the Test Way I thought I should check it out.  It turns out to be a 44 mile walk from Inkpen Beacon, also the start of the Wayfarer's Walk, to Eling via Stockbridge and Romsey. Could be a future project?

Conditions: Cool, dry, rather grey.

Distance: 8.5 miles.

Map: Explorer 131 (Romsey, Andover & Test Valley)

Rating: four stars. Wonderful wide open country.

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