Walking the Test Way
Part six - Stockbridge to Mottisfont
Distance: 5 miles
Approx time: 2 hours
Heading out along the old railway line, the path passes through Stockbridge Common- a quiet world of reed beds and waterfowl. Here, beside the water, the Clarendon Way (which stretches from Winchester to Salisbury) crosses the valley just before you reach the ancient crossing point of Horsebridge. You can choose. to take a short detour and visit Houghton Lodge Gardens which are beautiful. riverside gardens sitting above the Test, overlooked by Houghton Lodge an 18th Century listed Gothic Cottage Omne, there is also a tea room. Check the website to book a visit on route.
Just north of Horsebridge is a disused canal lock from the Southampton to Andover canal. In 1857, the Andover Canal Railway Company utilised much of the route for a railway locally called the 'Sprat and Winkle line' (closed in the 1960s), which was literally built over the top of the canal. Along the path, white gashes can be seen in the cliffs. where it is said the chalk was excavated to fill in the old waterway.
Pass the John of Gaunt pub before continuing past one of the few remaining old railway stations (now privately owned).
On to Lower Brook, cross the meadows and finish this section on grass tracks leading to the famous Mottisfont Abbey.
When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, the ancient manor house at Mottisfont belonged to William the Conqueror. The priory was founded by the Austin Cannons in 1201 until it was dissolved by Oliver Cromwell in 1536. It became a private house until given to the National Trust in 1957, and is now famous for its superb walled rose garden. Mottisfont is described as a romantic house and gallery set in beautiful riverside gardens, there are ancient trees and bubbling brooks together with rolling lawns with the 18th Century house and medieval priory at its heart.
To find out more about Mottisfont Abbey and book a visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont
John of Gaunt pub
Refreshments: John O'Gaunt Pub, Horsebridge www.johnofgaunt.co.uk
.Accommodation: Mill Arms, Dunbridge (1 mile walk from Mottisfont) www.millarmsdunbridge.co.uk
Public Transport: Bus services run from Stockbridge to Andover, Winchester and Salisbury, but none to Romsey except via Winchester. Mottisfont (Dunbridge) railway station has direct trains to Salisbury and Romsey and onto London via Salisbury and Southampton.
Parking: Stockbridge High Street & Mottisfont.