Mottisfont Abbey Gardens, West Hampshire Chalk Downs, Dun & Test Valleys and the picturesque market town of Romsey
This walk, created in March 2016, is a re-imagining of the original Walk 3 in the very first edition of TOCW Book 1. It was replaced by another walk when the lunch place closed to the public.
|Length||22.2 km (13.9 mi), 5 hours net walking. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at last 10 hours. Allow an extra hour if visiting Mottisfont Abbey Gardens.|
|Toughness||5 out of 10.|
|OS Maps||OS Landranger Map 185 (Winchester & Basingstoke) or Explorer 131 (Romsey, Andover & Test Valley). Mottisfont & Dunbridge station, map reference SU 318 261, is in Hampshire, 18 km north west of Southampton. Romsey station is 6 km closer to Southampton.|
This walk explores woods and rolling chalk hills in the Dun and (Lower) Test Valleys of remote West Hampshire. An early highlight is the NT-owned (and ticketed) Mottisfont Abbey, a historical priory and country estate, with an arm of the River Test, Hampshire's longest and finest chalk stream, running through the stunning grounds, which also include a famous walled rose garden, trompe-l’oeil murals from Rex Whistler, and several lunch options.
Walk back past the 12th century St. Andrews church, one of the few Grade I-listed churches, and follow the waymarked Mottisfont Estate Path. The route incorporates all the important features of the estate, mainly varied ancient woodlands – several of which are good bluebell woods – but also some managed for timber or coppicing, historical farmland and the Dun River Meadows.
After lunch in Dunbridge the route gets a little more undulating, as the Test River is followed – mostly from a distance – all the way to Romsey, a picturesque market town. You pass all its sights: Romsey Abbey, a beautiful church the size of a cathedral, the War Memorial Park, the medieval King John’s House and Tudor Cottage, some narrow historical lanes and an exhausting selection of tea and pub stops.
Three shorter options are described, one of which follows the original Book 1 version of this walk.
Disclaimer: There are several very mud-prone sections, and not just after heavy rainfall, especially in some of the woods and in the river meadows.
All walk options go to Mottisfont village first for a look at the Abbey Gardens and the 12C church and all have the same finish through Squabb Wood and the River Test Meadows into Romsey.
The Main Walk follows a waymarked Mottisfont Estate Path anti-clockwise through ancient woods and the Dun Meadows to lunch in Dunbridge.
Option 3 uses a shortcut within that morning route, also leading to lunch in Dunbridge (18.1 km, 4/10).
Option 1 (11.9 km, 1/10) and Option 2 (14.1 km, 2/10) are a mostly separate walk, deliberately short to allow a visit to Mottisfont Abbey Gardens. From Mottisfont they are following the original Book 1 Walk (or its shortcut option) and re-join the Main Walk before Squabb Wood and the River Test Meadows. Lunch comes early, either in Mottisfont or shortly after, a little off-route.
|Travel||Take the train nearest to 9.15 from Waterloo Station to Mottisfont & Dunbridge. Trains to Mottisfont & Dunbridge are hourly on Monday to Saturday and two-hourly Sundays. You will need to change at either Southampton Airport (Parkway) or Salisbury (Monday to Saturday) or at Southampton Central or Salisbury (Sunday). Journey time from 111 minutes. There are two or three trains an hour returning from Romsey, changing at either Southampton Airport, Southampton Central or Salisbury.|
Mottisfont Abbey and Gardens (01794 340 757, ticketed entry, free for National Trust members). Mottisfont Abbey is located 1.6 km (1.0 mi) into the walk. Open 10.00-17.00 daily (except 24/25 December). There are four options: The Old Kitchen is located in the Victorian kitchens of the historic house. Choose from a varied lunch menu, all served on china. It is licensed and offers outdoor seating in summer. Coach House Cafe – located in the stables – is perfect for light lunches, snacks and treats, to eat in or take away, including cakes and drink. Everything is served on compostable or recyclable tableware. Stables Ice Cream and Walled Garden Kiosk are only open at peak times or on sunny days.
The Mill Arms (01794 340 401). The Mill Arms is located 11.1 km (6.9 mi) into the full walk and 7.0 km (4.4 mi) into the short walk, if using Shortcut III. It is an attractive 19th century Inn with flagstone floors, oak beams, open fire, conservatory and a three-tiered garden. Open Mon-Sat 10.00-23.00 and Sun 10.00-17.00. Food served Mon-Sat 12.00-15.00 (last orders) and 18.00-21.00 and Sun 12.00-16.00.
Kimbridge Restaurant & Annie’s Tearooms (01794 556 777). The Kimbridge is located 60m off-route the shortest possible route, 1.7 km (1.1 mi) along it, or 280m more if taking Shortcut II. Open Sun-Thu 10.00-17.00 and Fri-Sat 09.00-17.00. Hot food served until 15.00, sandwiches until 15.30, cakes until close.
The Bear and Ragged Staff (01794 556 777). The Bear & Ragged Staff is 800m off-route of Shortcut I, 2.5 km (1.5 mi) into the shortest walk and 280m more if taking Shortcut II. Open Mon-Sat 11.00-23.00 and Sun 12.00-22.30. Food served Mon-Sat 12.00-21.30 and Sun 12.00-21.00. A Fuller’s Pub on a busy road.
There are an exhausting number of places to chose from in Romsey, all are mentioned in the walk directions.
The recommended brasserie is The White Horse Hotel (01794 512 431)
The recommended pub is The Old House at Home (01794 513 175)
The recommended pub bistro is The Olive Tree (01794 503 444)
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk