Walking the Test Way
Part four - Longparish to West Down, Chilbolton
Distance: 5 miles
Approx time: 2 hours
Walk through the pretty hamlet of Forton on the banks of the Test. You then re-enter the lovely Harewood Forest on second World War concrete tracks. used to conceal vehicles from snooping enemy aircraft.
Leave the woods and walk along pleasant old farm lanes back into the valley to Wherwell. The route runs behind the village, but much more scenic is a walk down the main street. In Wherwell there are tales of the Wherwell Cockatrice which is described as a creature that was hatched by a toad from a duck egg and turned into a dragon like creature, which grew enormous and had a huge appetite.
On the main street you will pass Wherwell Priory which is built on the site of Wherwell Abbey, founded by Queen Elfrida in 986, demolished by King Henry VIII in 1649 and traded to Lord De La Warr in exchange for five Manors in Sussex. The oldest building on the Estate is the stable block wh is constructed of banded flint and brick with some chalk blocks, it is believed to have been the mid C13th Abbey Infirmary. In the grounds there is a plaque dated AD 1649 which records "here was the monastery of Wherwell demolished by the seale or avarice of King Henry VIII".
This was a busy village 100 years ago, with three general stores, a forge, cobblers, two pubs, a tea shop, post office, school and coal merchants, with more shops over the years. There is also a war memorial which records of those who served in World War I and II.
The pub in Wherwell is called the White Lion which dates back to 1612.
Cross the different branches of the river via footbridges, past Chilbolton Common with its vast variety of flora and fauna. Skirting Chilbolton and its Observatory you will reach West Down and there are excellent views across the valley of the River Test.
As you cross the road you will see the The Mayfly Inn, a beautiful riverside pub, which makes for a lovely stopping point for food and drink.
If you plan to do a detour and visit Danebury Ring hill fort in the next part of the walk, you may want to walk the first part of the dismantled railway line to the Peat Spade in Longstock for overnight accommodation.
The Mayfly a lovely pub on the River Test, West Down, Chilbolton www.mayflyfullerton.co.uk
The White Lion in Wherwell www.thewhitelionwherwell.co.uk
.Accommodation: The Peat Spade, Longstock - 2.4 miles away www.peatspadeinn.co.uk
Public Transport: Longparish is on a bus route from Andover. Garston Mede, Chilbolton is on a bus route from Andover.
Parking: Longparish village At West Down car park OS Explorer map SU390383