Hampshire walk around Oakley and Deane

Picturesque thatched cottage at Deane Down Farm © Steve Davison

Picturesque thatched cottage at Deane Down Farm © Steve Davison - Credit: Steve Davison

Follow Steve Davison as he explores the varied countryside around Oakley and Deane in Jane Austen country

Our walk this month starts out from Oakley to the west of Basingstoke. The village, which consists of East Oakley and Church Oakley – the latter being close to the church, was mentioned in the Domesday Book, though its history goes back much further than that as there are a number of ancient burial mounds, or tumuli, nearby.

From Church Oakley the walk heads northwards through fields before ducking under the railway – this forms the West of England Line which opened in the late 1850’s – to join the Wayfarer’s Walk which we follow for slightly under two and a half miles. This 70-mile long distance trail meanders through the Hampshire countryside, from high up in the North Hampshire Downs to the south coast, near Portsmouth.

We soon meet up with the railway again before heading through the little village of Deane, with its picturesque thatched cottages. Whilst passing through the village take the short detour to visit the Gothic-styled All Saints Church where Jane Austen’s father was rector before moving to nearby Steventon. From the path there is a fine view of Deane House (private) where Jane met her only true love, Tom LeFroy.

The walk continues along the Wayfarer’s Walk for a while longer before heading east through Oakley Park. On reaching the brow of the hill, rest a while on the seat and admire the views. Tucked amongst the trees to the west is the late 18th century Oakley Hall (now a hotel) built by Wither Bramston; the Bramston’s were acquaintances of Jane Austen and she recalled her visits in the letters she wrote to her sister, Cassandra.

From this vantage point we head down past St Leonard’s Church, which dates from the 12th century, back to the start.

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• Start/finish: Oakley (SU567504) just off B3400 to the west of Basingstoke; limited on-street parking along Rectory Road near the church

• Map: OS Explorer 144

• Distance: 4.75 miles (7.6km)

• Terrain: Gentle ups and downs, tracks and paths, some gates but no stiles, sections of country road

• Time: 2.25 hours without stops

• Refreshments: The Beach Arms (01256 780210) at Clarken Green, Oakley

The walk

1 (SU567504) – Stand with the church driveway behind you and cross over Rectory Road to go through a gate between Rectory Road (left) and Station Road (right). Head north, diagonally across the field. Go through two small gates in the hedge and keep ahead through the next field to the far left corner. Go through two gates into the next field and follow the left-hand hedge. Leave through a gate at the field corner and continue to the main road at a junction beside the Beach Arms pub. Cross straight over and follow Ivy Down Lane, soon passing under the railway and keep right (straight on) at the junction for 550m to a sharp right-hand bend. Turn left on to the track, then immediately right through the hedge and follow the line of oak trees for 500m between fields, to a marker post.

2 (SU558519) – Turn hard left heading south-west across the field following the Wayfarer’s Walk to the field corner; we now follow the Wayfarer’s Way for slightly under two and half miles. Cross straight over the track and follow the right-hand boundary through the next field for 100m and turn right through the trees. Go through a gate and head diagonally left through the field, aiming just left of the farm buildings. Go through a gateway on the left before the farm buildings and follow the right-hand field edge to the field corner and leave through a gate. Turn right along the lane past Deane Down Farm and cottages, and at the last house on the right, turn left through a gate. Follow the left-hand field edge and leave through a gate.

3 (SU553509) – Cross the bridge over the railway and head diagonally right through two fields. Go through a gap in the hedge and follow the fence on the right past some buildings to a gravel track; follow this to the road in Deane. Turn right, passing some thatched cottages on your right, to a junction. Turn left along the lane; after 100m take a short detour through the gate on the right and follow the drive to All Saints Church with Deane House (private) over to the right, now retrace your steps. Continue southwards along the lane to the main road (B3400). With care, cross straight over and follow the lane for 200m before turning left along a track (byway).

4 (SU547497) – Follow this gently uphill for half a mile to a crossing path at the top of the rise beside a copse. Turn left, following the fence on the left and then the hedge. Go through a gap in the trees into the next field and keep ahead as the path slowly heads over to the left-hand side of the field. Turn left through a gap and continue to reach two seats with a view. The path splits here, take the left-hand fork, aiming for the church, heading down to a hedge. Go through a gate and follow the fence on the right, still aiming for the church, to reach a path junction. Keep ahead through a gate following the enclosed path and then along the church driveway back to the junction of Rectory Road and Station Road.


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