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Brown trout at Fulling Mill

20-May-09 • Sean O'Neill

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DSCF0273(1)

Bere Mill on River Test

01-Feb-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Whitchurch Silk Mill

01-Feb-09 • Sean O'Neill

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Footpath to All Hallows Church, Whitchurch

11-Feb-10 • Sean O'Neill

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CIMG1717

River Test at Tufton

10-Mar-12 • Sean O'Neill

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Book 3, Walk 53, Whitchurch to Overton

Book 3, Walk 53, Whitchurch to Overton

A good walk for trout-spotting, Midweek Day Walk, 17 Sept '07.

17-Sep-08 • mew2005b on Flickr

whitchurch book3 overton rivertest swcwalks walk53 tocw353

Book 3, Walk 53, Whitchurch to Overton

Book 3, Walk 53, Whitchurch to Overton

Little did this mallard realise but dinner time was approaching and the trout were getting hungry... The River Test, Midweek Day Walk, 17 Sept '07.

17-Sep-08 • mew2005b on Flickr

whitchurch book3 overton rivertest swcwalks walk53 tocw353

Overton to Whitchurch walk

An easy walk down the Test valley which passes many interesting mills, old and new.

Overton to Whitchurch
Length

Main Walk: 17 km (10.6 miles). Four hours 5 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.

Main Walk, with alternative afternoon: 14½ km (9.0 miles). Three hours 25 minutes walking time.

Short Circular Walk (from Whitchurch): 12 km (7.5 miles). Two hours 50 minutes walking time.

OS Map

Explorer 144. Overton, map reference SU518508, is in Hampshire, 12 km W of Basingstoke.

Toughness

3 out of 10 (2 for the Short Circular Walk).

Features

These walks are along the upper reaches of the River Test, a world-famous trout stream. The Main Walk includes a gentle climb up to an ancient trackway which runs along a low ridge on the undulating North Wessex Downs, while the Circular Walk never strays far from the river.

The clear, iron-free water of the river is ideal for several industries, including silk-making. Overton's silk mill failed, but Whitchurch Silk Mill is still operating and can be visited near the end of the walk. Admission (2015) is £4.50; if you Gift Aid this, you are given free entry for a year.

An even more prominent local industry is paper-making. The industry was started in 1712 by Henri Portal, a Huguenot refugee who brought over the secret of watermarking paper. The business was so successful that he was soon able to transfer production from Bere Mill to the much larger Laverstoke Mill, a short distance upstream. Success was assured when the Portals won the contract to supply watermarked banknote paper to the Bank of England in 1727. The contract has continued to this day, although production is now at De La Rue's modern Overton Mill, alongside Overton station.

Many of the churches in the area look solidly Victorian, including All Hallows Church in Whitchurch, but this one dates from the 13thC and has many interesting features. The most unusual church passed on the walk is St Nicholas in Freefolk, which contains an elaborate Jacobean monument to a Shakespearian-looking gent, Sir Richard Powlett.

About 6 km north of the walk route is Watership Down, a prominent hill made famous by Richard Adams' celebrated 1972 novel about a group of rabbits who undertake a perilous journey to the Down. The author still lives in the area.

You can expect to see brown trout at any of the river bridges along this walk, particularly in Whitchurch. Town Bridge by the Silk Mill is a fascinating place to watch large numbers of these agile fish successfully competing with ducks for scraps of food from passers-by.

Walk Options

There are two ways of shortening the Main Walk in the afternoon. At Bere Mill you could switch to an alternative route into Whitchurch, ending with a short loop to Fulling Mill. More simply, you could stay on the main route and head directly for Whitchurch station when you reach the town.

Directions are also given for a short Circular Walk (from Whitchurch), which goes up the valley to the lunchtime pub in Freefolk and finishes with the alternative route. This option is worth considering if you miss a train and would have to start an hour late.

Transport

Overton and Whitchurch are adjacent stations on the line from Basingstoke to Salisbury. There is an hourly service from London Waterloo (two-hourly on Sundays), taking about 1 hour. Buy a day return to Whitchurch (Hants).

If you just miss one of the infrequent trains back on a Sunday, you could travel out one stop to Andover and then return to London on a fast train, but you are likely to be charged extra for this.

In Freefolk and Laverstoke (and other places along the B3400) you can catch Stagecoach 76/86, which runs between Whitchurch and Basingstoke (half-hourly Mon–Sat, with a very limited Sunday service).

If driving, the station car park at Overton is free. All the trains back from Whitchurch stop at Overton. For the Circular Walk there is a convenient free car park in Bell Street, near Whitchurch town centre.

Suggested Train

Take the train nearest to 10:00 from Waterloo to Overton. For the Circular Walk, take the train nearest to 10:30 to Whitchurch.

Train Times

Lunch

The suggested lunchtime pub is the Watership Down Inn (01256-892254) in the small village of Freefolk, after 7¼ km on the Main Walk or 5 km on the Circular Walk. The author Richard Adams was a regular patron of this pub (then called The Freefolk Arms) and after the success of his novel it was renamed in his honour. This free house has a good selection of local ales and ciders and serves excellent home-cooked food to 2.30pm (3pm Sun).

The alternative is to continue to Whitchurch for a late lunch. Right in the town centre, the suggested place is the White Hart Hotel (01256-892900), which serves food up to 2pm. There are alternatives a short way along most of the roads radiating out from The Square: the up-market Red House Inn (01256-895558) at 21 London Street, The Bell (01256-893120) in Bell Street and the Kings Arms (01256-893489) at 10 Church Street.

Tea

The suggested tea place is H's Coffee Shop (07810-868613) at 5 Newbury Street, open to 5pm Mon–Sat, 4pm Sun. Alternatively, the Silk Mill has a nice tearoom which you can use even if not visiting the rest of the mill.

Whitchurch station is 1 km from the town centre, so allow 15 minutes from the coffee shop and 20 minutes from the Silk Mill.

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After the walk, we would love to get your feedback

Photos

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Trains

Out: (not a train station)

Back: (not a train station)

By Car

Start: RG25 3JG Directions then return to your car by train:

Finish: RG28 7ER Directions then travel to the start by train:

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Help

Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Jun-17

Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml

Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

Overton to Whitchurch

Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).

Walk Map: Overton to Whitchurch Walk Map

Walk Options ( Main | Circular)

Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.

  1. Main Walk (17 km)
  1. Main Walk, omitting Tufton (12¾ km)
  2. Main Walk, with alternative afternoon (14½ km)
  3. Short Circular Walk (from Whitchurch) (12 km)
  4. Short Circular Walk, omitting Freefolk (8¼ km)

Walk Directions

Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.

For the Whitchurch Circular Walk, start at §8.

  1. Overton Station to the Harroway (4 km)
  2. Go down the approach road and turn right onto a footpath alongside the River Test. Turn left on the B3051, cut through St Mary's churchyard and turn right onto Church Road. Go along Silk Mill Lane to the converted Southington Mill and continue on The Lynch to Northington Farm. Turn right onto a farm track which crosses over the railway and go up a green lane to an ancient track called the Harroway.

    Leave the station at the London end of the platform and go through its small car park to the approach road, with Overton Mill1 behind you on the other side of the tracks. Bear left to go downhill on this road, which in 300m merges with the access road to the mill. Keep ahead on the main road and follow it round to the right at a junction by farm buildings.

    100m past the entrance to Quidhampton Farmhouse, turn right at a footpath sign just before a bridge over the River Test2. Go through a gate onto a path which goes alongside the river for a while, then joins the driveway to a house, Flashetts. Follow this drive as it curves round to the left alongside a backwater and comes out onto the B3051. Turn left onto this road to head S, passing Little Meadow3 on the right.

    150m along the road, cross over and turn right up the right-hand of two sets of steps to enter a churchyard. Follow the grassy path away from the road and round to the left at the top to go past St Mary's church4. Go down towards a sports ground and turn right onto Church Road. In 100m, ignore Bridge Street on your left and bear right into Court Drove. In 150m, having gone past Glebe Meadow on the left, bear left downhill into Silk Mill Lane.

    Stay on this quiet road for 600m, with occasional glimpses of the the River Test over walls on your left. At the junction with Southington Lane (with a nice view of the river from the bridge on your left) continue along The Lynch, passing the converted Southington Mill5 on the left and a beautiful thatched cottage on the right. The lane goes alongside a mill-stream, then swerves right and left uphill, away from the river.

    In 200m the lane reaches the entrance to Northington Farm, where you turn right onto a farm track, heading N. This goes gently uphill between tall hedges, crossing over the railway after 500m. In a further 300m the farm track splits into two, going left and right, but you keep ahead on a grassy track, still between hedges. After climbing gently for 400m this green lane reaches a strip of woodland containing a broad track known as the Harroway6.

  3. The Harroway to Freefolk (3¼ km)
  4. Turn left and go along the Harroway for just under 1½ km. Turn left at a junction onto a track which goes back over the railway. Follow this round to the right at an entrance to Laverstoke Park. Cut through a back lane to the B3400 to reach the Watership Down Inn in Priory Lane.

    Turn left to head SW along this track (if the main path is too muddy, look for some drier paths which wind through the belt of trees on your left). In 800m, ignore a byway off to the right. In a further 600m the path comes to a three-way junction where you turn left, leaving the Harroway.

    This track goes gently uphill at first, passes a water tower and then descends. It crosses back over the railway and eventually comes to a few houses and some dilapidated farm buildings. At a sharp bend in the road, ignore a private entrance to Laverstoke Park7 and follow the lane round to the right. In 100m there is a footpath off to the left.

    If you do not want to visit the lunch pub you can take a short cut by turning left onto this footpath. Follow it across a field, then downhill along the edge of a wood to come out opposite St Mary's church. Turn left onto a lane going past the end of Manor Cottages to the B3400. Cross over the main road (slightly to your right) onto a lane signposted to St Nicholas's church and continue the directions at [•] in the next section.

    For the pub, keep ahead on the lane to a T-junction and turn left. In 150m, turn right onto an unsurfaced lane which later winds past some garages and houses in the settlement of Freefolk8 to reach the B3400. Turn right onto this busy road; it is safer to use the pavement on the other side even though you have to cross back again in 60m. Turn right up Priory Lane to find the suggested lunchtime stop on your left, the Watership Down Inn.

  5. Freefolk to Bere Mill (1¾ km)
  6. From the pub return to the B3400 and head east along it, passing Manor Cottages. Turn right into a lane which goes past St Nicholas's church and comes to an isolated house halfway up the side of the valley. Turn right and walk across several large fields to reach a lane by Bere Mill Bridge, with Bere Mill off to the left.

    From the pub, return to the B3400. Cross over carefully, turn left and go along the road for 400m, passing a rather neglected war memorial on your right and then the striking Manor Cottages9 on your left, with the parish church of St Mary the Virgin10 behind them. At the end of the row of thatched cottages, turn right into a lane signposted to St Nicholas's church.

    [•] Head S along this lane, which crosses the River Test. After passing some allotments it curves round to the left and comes to St Nicholas's church11, curving to the right in front of it.

    If you want to visit this unusual old church, its entrance is via a black metal gate in the hedge ahead.

    Continue S on the track, now going gently uphill. In 100m, just after passing the entrance to an isolated house on your right, fork right. Follow a grassy path along the left-hand edge of a large field for 500m.

    At the end of the field go through a belt of trees and keep ahead across another large field, aiming just to the left of a house. On the far side, go through a gate and down a wide track to emerge on a lane in front of Bere Mill Bridge over the River Test.

    In earlier versions the Main Walk turned left here, but you should only do this if you taking the alternative route. For this option (the same as the Circular Walk), go to §11.

  7. Bere Mill to Town Mill (1¾ km)
  8. Go across Bere Mill Bridge. In 200m turn left and follow a footpath around the edge of a large field, then along the side of a water meadow. Continue along a residential road on the outskirts of Whitchurch. Turn left onto a path past some old watercress beds to Town Mill.

    For the main route go across the old brick bridge, with the buildings of Bere Mill12 off to your left. In 200m, where there are footpaths off to both sides, turn left off the lane. Go through a gate and follow a grassy path S across a field, later bending slightly to the right.

    On the far side go through a kissing gate in the trees and continue with a wire fence on your right. Follow the edge of this large field round a long curve to the right, soon with glimpses of the River Test behind the trees on your left.

    In 600m veer left through a large gap in the hedge. On the other side turn right to go along the right-hand edge of a water meadow. At the end, go through a gate to continue on an enclosed footpath and then a residential road on the outskirts of Whitchurch.

    As the road bends right to meet the B3400 fork left into a residential street, then almost immediately turn left onto a tarmac path heading S, passing some abandoned watercress beds behind the houses on your left. The path later crosses some branches of the river and comes to the end of a cul-de-sac, with Town Mill13 up ahead.

  9. Town Mill to Whitchurch town centre (1 km)
  10. Whitchurch Cross the river and turn right onto a path which curves round some school grounds and leads into a residential street. Turn right along the edge of a recreation area to reach Winchester Street. Turn right to cross Town Bridge and continue past the Silk Mill to the town centre.

    Whitchurch Cross the substantial footbridge over the River Test and turn right in front of the entrance to some school grounds. Follow this path for about 400m, initially round a gradual curve to the left and then a few zig-zags. Eventually it leads into a residential road (McFauld Way) heading SW.

    In 75m you come to the corner of a recreation area and turn right; you can either go along its edge or take the lane to its right. In the corner continue along an alleyway which comes out onto Winchester Road. Turn right and cross Town Bridge, with the entrance to the Silk Mill on your left on the other side of the River Test.

    A further 150m along the main road brings you to a busy five-way road junction called The Square. The continuation of the full Main Walk is the first road on the left, Church Street.

    If you want to break for tea here you could try the White Hart Hotel up ahead, or the coffee shop on the left-hand side of Newbury Street.

    If you are skipping the loop out to the village of Tufton, go to §14.

  11. Whitchurch town centre to Tufton (2 km)
  12. From The Square, head south-west on Church Street. In 150m turn right onto a footpath and follow this across a minor road and through a subway under a dismantled railway line. Turn left onto a path around the edge of a housing estate and cut through a cemetery to the B3400. Turn right to go under the A34, then turn left onto a new permissive path. Go over a small hill, then join a public footpath to cross a meadow to the River Test. Turn left under the old railway line and cross the river on a footbridge. Turn left onto a lane and follow this through the small village of Tufton to its church.

    From Winchester Street turn sharp left to head SW on the B3400 (Church Street). In 150m, soon after passing a petrol station, turn right into a lane called Fairclose, signposted as a footpath. At the end of the roadway keep ahead on a tarmac path between houses, gently uphill.

    Where the path meets a residential road, cross over and go through a white gate leading to a subway under a dismantled railway line14. On the other side, turn left onto a path which runs alongside a new housing development. Cross over its access road and follow the path round to the right to come out by some of these new houses. Turn left and go downhill to find a gate leading into the cemetery on your right.

    If this gate is locked, simply continue down the lane and turn right at the bottom onto the B3400.

    For the suggested route through the cemetery (which is carpeted with snowdrops in February), go through the gate and then bear left down a tree-lined avenue. This leads out to the B3400 where you turn right.

    Go under the bridge carrying the town's bypass, the A34. Cross over the road and turn left onto a permissive footpath. Go over a stile and up a broad grassy track between wire fences. At the top, cross another stile and veer right to go around the right-hand edge of a large field, still gently uphill and then down the other side.

    Near the bottom of the hill veer right and go over a stile to join the old public footpath coming down from the road. Turn left and go over another stile to continue on a narrow path between fences. Along this path, ignore the continuation of the permissive footpath off to the right. Keep ahead through a scrubby area containing some abandoned watercress beds and go through a metal kissing gate into a meadow. Bear left towards a stile in the trees ahead; go over this and continue along a fenced-in path at the bottom of the embankment.

    At the end of this path, with the River Test ahead, go through a kissing gate and turn left onto a broad track, passing under the old railway viaduct. Keep to the right and go through another gate to cross a narrow footbridge over the river, now noticeably wider than before. Go up to a farm lane and turn left, ignoring a footpath signpost pointing the other way.

    You will now be following the route of Book 1 Walk 48 (in reverse) to All Hallows church.

    Follow the lane past cottages and farm buildings as it bends to the right through the hamlet of Tufton. In 300m you reach St Mary's church15, which is worth visiting.

  13. Tufton to Fulling Mill (1¼ km)
  14. Immediately after passing the church turn left onto a farm track. Keep ahead on an enclosed path around two sides of a large field, going alongside the embankment carrying the A34. Turn left onto a lane to go under the main road, following it for 500m towards Whitchurch. Turn left onto a footpath across Millennium Green to reach Fulling Mill.

    Immediately after the church, turn left into a farm lane. Where this veers right towards a farm gate, go over a stile beside a fieldgate to keep ahead on an enclosed path. Go past farm buildings and continue along the edge of a large field towards the noisy A34. Follow the path round to the right alongside the embankment and out to a minor road. Turn left to go under the road bridge.

    On the other side of the bridge you could take a neglected footpath on the left which cuts through a field and returns to the road after 250m, but it is simpler to stay on the road.

    For the suggested route, follow the road round to the left, past a junction. 500m from the A34 bridge, turn left through a gate into an open space called The Meadow, Millennium Green. Follow the grassy path directly away from the road towards a wooden notice-board by the trees on the far side of the meadow. Keep ahead across a backwater to come out onto a lane by the entrance to Fulling Mill.

    Continue the directions at §13.

  15. Whitchurch Station to Bere Mill (2¾ km)
  16. Turn left at the T-junction outside the station, then right to go down Newbury Road. Turn left into King's Walk and right into Jobson Close. Continue on a path which veers left, crossing a sunken lane. Go across an open area and turn left onto a path which runs above and parallel to the B3400, later dropping down to meet it. Turn right briefly onto the road, then left down steps leading to a residential road. Turn left and keep ahead on a path which goes along the side of a water meadow, then curves round the edge of a large field. Continue across another field to a lane and turn right. Follow this across Bere Mill Bridge and round to the right.

    Head directly away from the station and make your way out past a car park and some new houses to Station Road. Turn left and follow this road to its junction with Newbury Road. Turn right to go downhill towards the centre of Whitchurch.

    In 350m turn left into King's Walk. Take the first turning on the right (Jobson Close), passing Berehill House16. Veer left at the end of this cul-de-sac to pass to the left of #4 on a tarmac path and follow it round to the left (ignoring a path ahead) to cross a sunken tarmac lane on an old flint bridge known as Jerusalem Arch17. Veer right to go across an open area, aiming for the far left-hand corner.

    On the far side go past a bench onto a path into the trees, heading E. This soon meets a path crossing which allows you to continue on a parallel tarmac path on the right, running along the side of Lynch Hill with occasional views through a wire fence of the Test valley below.

    The path eventually drops down and you need to take great care as the path comes straight out onto the busy B3400. Cross over the road and turn right, briefly heading back towards Whitchurch. Immediately after passing a run-down pub, the Prince Regent, turn left onto an unmarked path which goes down a flight of steps and comes to a residential road. Turn left onto the road and keep ahead on an enclosed footpath where it peters out.

    At the end of the path go through a gate and keep ahead along the left-hand edge of a water meadow. In 250m veer left through a large gap in the hedge. On the other side turn right to go along the right-hand edge of a large field, with a wire fence on your left, initially heading SE. Follow the field edge around in a long curve to the left, later with glimpses of the River Test behind the trees on your right.

    By the time you approach a corner of the field you are heading N. Follow the line of the wire fence and go through a gap in the trees to the left of the field corner. Go through a kissing gate and bear left on a grassy path across the field, with the buildings of Bere Mill now visible up ahead on your right.

    In the far left corner of the field go through another gate to emerge onto a lane. Turn right and go along the lane for 200m to reach Bere Mill Bridge over the River Test, with a fine view of the picturesque mill buildings off to your right. Go across the old brick bridge and follow the lane round to the right.

    If you are skipping the loop out to the village of Freefolk, go to §11.

  17. Bere Mill to Freefolk (2¼ km)
  18. Go past the buildings of Bere Mill onto a track and then along the edge of a field. Turn left and go uphill to reach a large field at the top of the valley. Go along the ridge and then curve down through some parkland to St Nicholas's church. Go down a lane and turn left onto the B3400, passing Manor Cottages. Turn right into Priory Lane to reach the Watership Down Inn.

    Follow the lane towards the buildings of Bere Mill12, with the river on your right and workshops on your left. Bear left past the house onto an enclosed track, which goes over a small rise and then down through a fieldgate into a field. Go along its right-hand edge to the corner of the field, where there is a gate on your right.

    Turn left uphill along the field edge, away from the gate. In the top corner, leave the field on your right and turn left onto a broad path, which soon comes out into a large field at the top of a valley. Continue along the top of the field for 750m; the churches of Laverstoke and Freefolk are in the valley below and later you might be able to see the top of Laverstoke House18, further up the valley.

    At the end of the field you could simply turn left onto a track going downhill, but the suggested route is to keep ahead through a new wooden gate in the hedge. This leads into parkland, with a few ornamental trees and the old industrial buildings of Laverstoke Mill19 visible directly ahead in the valley below. Take a wide arc round to the left in order to leave the field 250m down from the gate where you entered. Go through a gate and turn right onto a track to come to St Nicholas's church11 in the settlement of Freefolk8.

    If you want to visit this unusual old church, its entrance is via a black metal gate in the hedge on your right.

    Continue along the track as it bends round past allotments and crosses the River Test. At a T-junction turn left onto the B3400, with the striking Manor Cottages9 on the other side of the road and the parish church of St Mary the Virgin10 behind them. At the end of the row of thatched cottages you pass Watch Lane on your right.

    If you do not want to visit the lunch pub you can turn left onto the footpath opposite Watch Lane and continue the directions at [•] in the next section.

    For the pub, continue along the B3400 for a further 250m. Turn right up Priory Lane to find the suggested lunchtime stop on your left, the Watership Down Inn.

  19. Freefolk to Bere Mill direct (1½ km)
  20. From the pub return to the B3400 and head east along it. Turn right onto a footpath opposite Watch Lane and go across fields halfway up the side of the valley. Turn right and walk across several large fields to reach a lane by the river. Turn left to go past Bere Mill again.

    From the pub, return to the B3400. Cross over carefully and retrace your steps to Watch Lane. Turn right here onto a track, signposted as a public footpath.

    [•] Almost immediately fork left off the track to cross a wooden footbridge over a stream. Bear right and follow a grassy path heading S across a field to another substantial footbridge. Go over the River Test and follow the path to the left to cross a mill-stream on a narrow sluice-gate. Go through a gate and keep ahead along the left-hand edge of a field, then in the same direction across the next field, now gently uphill. Turn right in front of a fence to go along the top edge of this field for 400m.

    Do not cross the bridge – which is the way you came from Whitchurch – but instead turn left (repeating a section of your outward route for the next 300m).

  21. Bere Mill to Town Mill via Coombedown Hanger (2 km)
  22. Go past the buildings of Bere Mill onto a track and then along the edge of a field. Turn right through a gate into Coombedown Hanger and follow the edge of the meadow as it curves round to the right. Later, keep ahead on a path which gradually approaches the river, then goes alongside it. Turn right and cross the river at Town Mill.

    Go through this gate to head SW along the left-hand edge of a long meadow, which gradually curves round to the right with Coombedown Hanger sloping up to the left. Where the wood ends after 500m, ignore a footpath on the left and keep ahead on a path to the left of a wire fence. Continue through a wooded area to come out into the corner of a large field.

    Go along the right-hand edge of several large fields for 750m, soon with the river behind the trees on your right. The path eventually comes to a T-junction with a tarmac path in front of a high wall. Turn right here and cross a substantial footbridge over the River Test, with Town Mill13 on your left.

  23. Town Mill to Fulling Mill (1½ km)
  24. Whitchurch Go along Town Mill Lane and turn left onto the B3400. Turn left again into Test Road and follow this to Winchester Street. Turn left to go past the Silk Mill, then across Town Bridge. In 500m, turn right and go across Millennium Green, turning right at the top to reach Fulling Mill at the end of a lane called The Weir.

    Whitchurch Keep ahead along Town Mill Lane, which curves round to the left. The lane goes alongside the mill-stream for the Silk Mill and comes to the B3400 (London Street), with Voters Cottage20 opposite. Turn left and go along the main road for 100m, then turn left into Test Road. This bends to the right and eventually comes to a T-junction with Winchester Street. Turn left to find the entrance to the Silk Mill on your right, just before Town Bridge.

    If you want to head directly for refreshment places and/or the station, return along the main road. In 150m you come to a busy five-way road junction called The Square, with the White Hart Hotel up ahead. There are several pubs nearby and a coffee shop on the left-hand side of Newbury Street. Go to §14 to complete the walk.

    To continue the walk, cross the River Test and follow the main road S for 500m, passing Micheldever Road on the left and a lane called The Weir on the right (a short cut to Fulling Mill). 125m after The Weir, turn right through an imposing black metal gate with a fish symbol to enter an open space called The Meadow, Millennium Green.

    Bear left on the other side of the gate and take any path through the triangular meadow, aiming for its top right-hand corner. About 50m before the far side of the meadow, turn right onto a path by a wooden notice-board. This crosses a backwater and comes out onto The Weir by the entrance to Fulling Mill.

  25. Fulling Mill to Whitchurch town centre (1 km)
  26. Cross the river in front of the mill and head north on the riverside path towards All Hallows church. Turn right onto Church Street and follow this to the town centre.

    Cross the lane and take the footpath opposite (slightly to the left) to cross a footbridge over the River Test, with the picturesque Fulling Mill21 on your left. On the other side, bear right and follow the attractive riverside path N, with a church spire visible up ahead. At the end of the meadow, turn left to come out onto a bend of the B3400 (Church Street) by All Hallows church22.

    The route turns right here, but it is worth making the short detour ahead to visit this interesting church. Afterwards, return to this bend and follow the road round to the left.

    If you are not visiting the church, turn right onto the road. Soon after passing the Kings Arms you come to a busy five-way road junction called The Square. The White Hart Hotel is up ahead and there are other pubs along Bell Street and London Street. The suggested tea place, H's Coffee Shop, is in the first group of shops on Newbury Street, on the left.

  27. Whitchurch town centre to the station (1 km)
  28. From The Square, head north on Newbury Street. In 800m turn left into Station Road to reach the station.

    From The Square head N on Newbury Street, climbing steadily. In 800m turn left into Station Road, then in 150m turn right to reach the station. Cross the footbridge to the far platform for trains to London.

Walk Notes

  1. The Portal family opened Overton Mill in 1921 and later transferred the production of banknote paper here from Laverstoke Mill. The business is now part of De La Rue.
  2. At this point the River Test is only about 2 km from its original source in the hamlet of Ashe, although much of the water is actually pumped up through boreholes to supply Overton Mill before being added to the river here.
  3. Little Meadow was developed by the Overton Biodiversity Society in 2007. There is an information panel about it just inside the gate.
  4. There are said to be horse's teeth hidden in the flint work of St Mary, Overton.
  5. Southington Mill was a corn mill until it was converted into a private house in the 1930s, with a new wing designed by Luytens.
  6. The Harroway (or Harrow Way) is an ancient drovers road, where cattle and sheep were herded to markets across the south of England.
  7. Laverstoke Park is now a 2,500-acre organic farm. It raises pure-breed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle and has a large herd of Water Buffalo, as well as unusual breeds of more familiar farm animals.
  8. The unusual name Freefolk is thought to relate to the medieval village being outside the feudal system.
  9. Manor Cottages were built in 1939 by the Portal family, in an Arts and Crafts style. Note that even the bus shelters here have thatched roofs!
  10. St Mary the Virgin, Laverstoke dates from Victorian times. It was built to replace a much older St Mary's in Laverstoke Park, which is now in ruins.
  11. The tiny old church of St Nicholas is no longer used for regular services, but is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust.
  12. Bere Mill was originally a corn mill until it was acquired by Henri Portal in 1712 for his paper-making business. Demand was so great that he was soon able to move production to a much larger mill at Laverstoke.
  13. Now a residential dwelling, Town Mill was one of Whitchurch's corn mills.
  14. The dismantled railway line was the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway (later amalgamated into the GWR). This rural branch line formed a vital north-south link for military traffic during WWII, but it was always uneconomic and was closed by Beeching in the 1960s.
  15. St Mary, Tufton has a faded wall painting of St Christopher carrying the Christ Child, depicted unrealistically because “thou shalt not make any graven images”.
  16. Berehill House (now a nursing home) was the Portal family home.
  17. It is said that the Portals constructed the sunken path and Jerusalem Arch so that they did not have to see their mill-workers walking to Laverstoke.
  18. The grand Laverstoke House was built for the Portal family in 1780. Their new estate displaced the tiny village of Laverstoke and only the ruins of the original St Mary's church remain in the grounds.
  19. The Portal family built Laverstoke Mill in 1718 for their expanding paper-making business. In 1727 their success was assured when they negotiated a deal to supply watermarked banknote paper to the Bank of England.
  20. Whitchurch was a Rotten Borough before 1832 and the Earl of Portsmouth bought Voters Cottage solely to qualify as a voter.
  21. Hammers driven by a Fulling Mill cleansed woollen cloth by pounding it into a solution containing Fullers Earth, which removed oil and dirt particles from the fibres.
  22. All Hallows, Whitchurch has Norman pillars and arches, a Saxon stone (discovered during rebuilding work), and an unusual Commandments Board (dating from 1602) depicting the fate of those who disobeyed them.

» Last updated: July 31, 2015

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