Hampshire walk at King’s Somborne
- Credit: Steve Davison
Head to King’s Somborne for a long walk in the Test Valley, following a Roman Road and visiting the site of a former palace says Steve Davison
Our walk this month starts at the little hamlet of Horsebridge, home to the unusually named John O’Gaunt Inn. From here, we follow part of the former Roman Road that ran between Winchester and Old Sarum, before heading south of King’s Somborne, passing a vineyard on the way - the shorter walk takes a more direct route to King’s Somborne. After passing Hoplands, the route rejoins the former Roman Road for a while. Whilst following the track keep a lookout for the small memorial on the left - this commemorates four German airmen that were shot down in 1940.
We then join the Clarendon Way – a 24-mile route between Salisbury (Wiltshire) and Winchester – down towards the picturesque village of King’s Somborne, with its stream and thatched cottages. The village, whose name comes from ‘som’ (swine) and ‘borne’ (stream), was mentioned in the Domesday Book and has royal connections dating back to Saxon times.
During the 14th century, John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III and father of Henry IV, had his palace near the Church of St Peter and St Paul, though little, apart from some earth banks still remain today. Visit the church to see a number of interesting memorials, including a colourful window commemorating aviation pioneer and yachtsman, Sir Thomas Sopwith.
We continue past the War Memorial, designed by Edwin Lutyens who, amongst many things, designed The Cenotaph in London, before leaving the village in favour of the Clarendon Way once more.
The final leg follows the course of the former Test Valley Railway back to Horsebridge. Opened in 1865, the railway, known as the Sprat and Winkle Line, replaced a canal between Redbridge and Andover - the line closed in 1964. Along this section of the walk we are following part of two more long distance paths, the 44-mile Test Way that runs through Hampshire from Inkpen Beacon in the north to Totton in the south and the much longer, 615-mile Monarch’s Way which follows the escape route used by Charles II in 1651 after being defeated at the Battle of Worcester.
Finally we cross the River Test with a view of the former water-powered corn mill, before arriving back at the car park.
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• Distance: 6 miles (9.8km) or 3 miles (5km)
• Time: 3 hours without stops
• Terrain: Ups and downs, tracks and paths, some gates no stiles, sections of road
• Start/Finish: Test Way car park at Horsebridge (SU345303), just west from the A3057 at King’s Somborne
• Map: OS Explorer 131
• Refreshment: The John O’Gaunt Inn (01794 388644) at Horsebridge and The Crown Inn (01794 388360) at King’s Somborne
1 (SU345303) - From the car park walk back along the entrance track to the road opposite The John O’Gaunt Inn and turn right, then immediately right again (signposted to Romsey). Follow the road for 150m as it soon swings left and starts to rise, after the building on the left turn left up the bridleway. Continue past trees and a seat to a gate. Cross the A3057 diagonally left and follow the enclosed bridleway, running parallel to the road, heading downhill. Continue straight on to the field corner and turn right to stay in the field.
2 (SU260306) - Follow the bridleway, with houses to the left for 500m to a minor road. Turn left for 75m and then right on to an enclosed bridleway to a lane. Turn left uphill for 250m and then right along the lane signposted for Hoplands. After 600m, ignore a byway to the right and continue straight on uphill, soon passing Hoplands. Keep ahead along the track for 400m, looking for the memorial stone on the way.
3 (SU377298) - Turn sharp left down through the trees following the Clarendon Way. Continue down the enclosed path with gallops on the left, later keep to the trees on the right and then enter a field. Head uphill, ignore a path to the right and follow the Clarendon Way along the right-hand field edge, later descending towards King’s Somborne. Follow the track past houses to a road. Cross over and turn left, soon passing the village shop. Keep to the main road as it swings left to a T-junction. Cross over and turn right down Church Road - a path to the left leads to the site of the former palace.
4 (SU360309) - We continue down to the A3057 junction beside the war memorial, with the Crown Inn opposite. Turn left for 100m and just after the Old Exchange turn right across the road. Follow the track between cottages and then continue through trees to enter a field. Follow the hedge-lined path up to a tarred lane and turn left, rejoining the Clarendon Way. Keep left at the junction following the track down to a track junction. Turn left along the Test Way for three quarters of a mile. Turn left along the minor road (parking area) back to the John O’Gaunt pub and car park.
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