South Downs Way 2 : West Meon to Petersfield walk

A railway path, The South Downs Way, Old Winchester Hill, Butser Hill, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Buriton and The Hangers Way.

Old Winchester Hill (Ditch, Bank and Barrows) from across the coombe SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

Old Winchester Hill (Ditch, Bank and Barrows) from across the coombe

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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View along Whitewool Hanger towards West Meon SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

View along Whitewool Hanger towards West Meon

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk183 walkicon 37588420701

Whitewool Pond Fly Fishing (meonsprings.com) SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

Whitewool Pond Fly Fishing (meonsprings.com)

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk183 walkicon 36877648254

Pub Sign, Ye Olde George Inn, East Meon SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield (East Meon Lunch Pubs Diversion)

Pub Sign, Ye Olde George Inn, East Meon

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield (East Meon Lunch Pubs Diversion)

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk183 walkicon 37588334571

Harting Downs and Black Down, from Small Down SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield (East Meon Lunch Pubs Diversion)

Harting Downs and Black Down, from Small Down

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield (East Meon Lunch Pubs Diversion)

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk183 walkicon 37539462896

Meon Valley Trail (Dismantled Railway Line) SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

Meon Valley Trail (Dismantled Railway Line)

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk183 37588526521

Roadbridge over Meon Valley Trail SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

Roadbridge over Meon Valley Trail

SWC Walk 183 - South Downs Way Section 2: West Meon to Petersfield

07-Oct-17 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk183 37556335722

Length

17.1 miles (27.5 km) with 1720 ft (525 metres) of ascent

  • Option A, start in Exton, saves 2.5 miles (rare bus);
  • Option B, finish after lunch in East Meon (regular bus);
  • Option C, from Butser Hill take a direct descent to Petersfield, saves 2.6 miles;
  • Option D, at the end, catch a bus from the Queen Elizabeth County Park (on the SDW) to Petersfield, saves 4 miles.
Maps OS Explorer OL33 (was 133) (Haslemere), OL32 (was 132) (Winchester), OL8 (was 120) (Chichester) and OL3 (was 119) (Portsmouth)
Toughness 9/10
Features

This walk follows a stage of the South Downs Way (SDW). From West Meon (reached by bus from Petersfield station), it follows the Meon Valley (disused railway) Trail to Exton where it joins the SDW. It heads east, over Old Winchester Hill (an ancient hill fort), Salt Hill, Hyden Hill, Tegdown Hill and Butser Hill (270m), the highest point in the South Downs National Park. After a long descent to cross the A3, it rises through the woods of Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP). Here it leaves the SDW to follow the Hangers Way north to Buriton, and back to Petersfield. station

The walk is rather long as the stations are badly placed for the route of the SDW, so there are 4 options to shorten it

  • A) Catch a rare bus to Exton, and start the walk from there;
  • B) Finish after lunch (a little off route) in East Meon (same bus line as West Meon), but you miss Butser Hill and Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP);
  • C) From Butser Hill take a direct descent to Petersfield through Open Access land. This saves the re-ascent through QECP Forest. Much shorter, misses a steep climb, but not as pretty on it's way into town via the suburbs. Be aware that the route crosses the A3 dual carriageway (via a median - OK if you are patient) and then the rail line (via a tunnel).
  • D) Catch a bus to Petersfield from the Queen Elizabeth Country Park (the stop is on the A3). This saves the 4 mile walk from the QECP on to Petersfield, leaving you the best bits - the SDW and the Meon Valley Trail: Bus #37 (hourly, takes 10 mins, Mon-Sat only).
Author's Note

Exton, on the SDW, has rare buses (1 or 2 a week) but they change annually. The East/West Meon (north of the SDW) bus service is more reliable.

The walk is too long, hence the shorter options. The best shorter option is the QECP bus stop, but that means buses at both ends. The problem with option C is the A3 dual carriageway. There are 3 footpaths that cross it, but all use the median, not a tunnel or footbridge. A route further south via "Petersfield South" junction would mean too much road walking.

South Downs Way

This walk is one of 9 stages of the South Downs Way - a 109 mile national long distance path - that traverses the South Downs National Park in South East England.

Walk Options

For both walks, doing it in reverse is also an option:

  • On the Winchester - West Meon walk, taking the bus to West Meon in the morning means you can spend the evening in Winchester without having to worry about the last bus.
  • On the West Meon - Petersfield walk, if the bus times in the morning don't fit with your train's arrival times, walk the walk in reverse and take the bus back from Exton or West Meon (but check the bus times beforehand!).
Transport

Winchester and Petersfield are both main stations, about an hour from Waterloo, with 2 trains an hour. However, they are 25 miles - 2 days walking - apart, with very little in the way of public transport in between.

In addition, these 2 stations are on different rail lines, which only meet up in Fareham (near Southampton), which makes for a more expensive ticket (2017: London-Fareham: £24.40 vs London-Petersfield: £18.20 - both Network Railcard prices), i.e. a ticket to Fareham is valid for both stations if you need to start your journey in one, and finish it in the other

Local Bus services [2021]

Stagecoach #67 : Runs between the 2 train stations, but to the north of the SDW.

  • Route: Winchester (station) - Hinton Ampner (£4.50) - West Meon (£5.30 to Winchester, £3.50 to Petersfield) - East Meon - Petersfield Station.
  • Mon-Fri (every 2 hours). Last bus from West Meon is 18:45 (to Petersfield) or 18:40 (to Winchester)
  • Sat (every 3 hours). Last bus is earlier. No Sunday service.

Stagecoach #37 : QECP Country park to Petersfield

  • Mon-Fri: hourly, Sat every 90 mins. Last bus 18:15. Takes 5 mins

# X17 : Exton (on the SDW) to Petersfield. Very rare, 1 on Wednesday only! Use it to catch a bus to Exton, and then walk back.

These seems to change very frequently. Check! Traveline.

Lunch and Tea

En route Winchester - West Meon

  • In Beauworth: The Milbury's (14.8 km/9.2 mi)
  • In Exton: The Shoe Inn (21.1 km/13.1 mi),on the SDW, not far from the A 32 "2 buses, twice a week" bus stop. Excellent. Pretty beer garden by the river. The Bucks Head 1 km south in Meonstoke is good too.

En route West Meon - Petersfield

While waiting for the bus

  • In Hinton Ampner: The Hinton Arms
  • In Exton: The Shoe Inn, on the SDW, not far from the A 32 "2 buses, twice a week" bus stop. Excellent. Pretty beer garden by the river. The Bucks Head 1 km south in Meonstoke is good too.
  • In West Meon: The Thomas Lord, restaurant pub with beer garden. Restaurant priced food.
  • In East Meon: Ye Olde George Inn (posher), or the Izaak Walton (cheaper)

While waiting for the train

  • In Winchester: many pubs, and a cathedral - you will not have a problem passing the time waiting for your train
  • In Petersfield: The Old Drum (walk east on station road, right on Chapel Street) is a restaurant pub. Continue and turn left to the town square for many more options
Links
  • Meon Valley Railway Line : Almost a folly, even when it was built, was constructed to main line standards, with gentle curves and ascents (i.e. many earthworks and long platforms, much of which still exist today), but little traffic
  • "Meon Valley Trail" - the disused line is now an unpublicised walk/cycle trail. See photos
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Start West Meon, Hampshire Map Directions

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National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Apr-22 Andrew

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