A Hampshire walk near Basingstoke featuring Roman ruins
- Credit: Steve Davison
Follow Steve Davison for a wander past some fascinating Roman ruins near Basingstoke
Calleva Atrebatum was once an important town in Roman Britain, standing at the junction of several major routes leading to other Roman towns such as Winchester and London.
However, Calleva is almost unique in that it was later abandoned. All that remains are the amphitheatre and the impressive defensive walls which reach a height of 4m in places and run for one and a half miles; information boards sited around the walls give more insight about the former town.
Before visiting the ruins we head north, passing close to the Red Lion pub before meandering through woods to the picturesque Kiln Pond. We then pass near to Silchester before the route splits. The shorter walk follows the Roman walls, whilst the longer route meanders through open fields, before both routes arrive at the lovely 12th century Church of St Mary the Virgin.
Inside there is a 14th century carved effigy of Eleanor Baynard and a Rood Screen from the time of Henry VIII, the screen shows both roses and pomegranates, the twin symbols of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, and is said to be one of the finest in Hampshire. More recent additions include the carved figure of Christ above the altar by the sculptor Peter Eugene Ball and the beautiful Carpe Diem window created by Jon Callan.
From the church, we head past the amphitheatre and then follow a wonderful section of the Roman walls back to the car park.
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• Start/finish: Car park along Wall Lane to the north-east of Silchester (SU635628)
• Map: OS Explorer 159
• Distance: 4.75 miles (7.5km) or 6.25 miles (10km)
• Terrain: Ups and downs, tracks and paths, some gates no stiles, short sections of road
• Time: 2.5 or 3.5 hours without stops
• Refreshments: Red Lion
1) (SU635628) – Exit the car park, cross Wall Lane and follow the track (byway) for 500m to a road. Turn right for 15m and then right again (ahead up the road is the Red Lion pub). Follow the surfaced track for 475m and shortly before a track junction, turn sharp left through a gate.
2) Follow the signed path along the field edge to a stile and road, opposite Slade Lodge. Turn left for 25m then right past the vehicle barrier, down through the trees to a junction. Turn left, cross a footbridge and head uphill, keep left at the split to stay near the edge of the woods to a track. Turn right, then left and head downhill, keep ahead at the junction and follow the track as it swings left and right to pass Kiln Pond.
3) (SU629631) – At the split, fork left, shortly pass to the right of a house and just before the small parking area turn right at the marker post to follow a faint path through the trees, staying near the left-hand edge.
4) Cross a stile and continue along the right-hand field edge. Cross the stile at the far right corner of the second field and turn right along the lane to a junction. Turn left and keep left to follow Bramley Road for 150m, then go left along the track (Brenda Parker Way). Keep ahead past houses and then follow the enclosed path through a gate.
5) (SU635624) – The walks split here. Short walk: turn right through the second gate on the right and follow the Roman walls on the left, then along the lane to the church (point 11) .
6) Longer walk: turn right through the first gate, follow the left-hand field edge, go through two gates and head diagonally right across the field to a gate. Continue through another field, soon following the right-hand boundary.
7) At the corner, turn left to stay in the field and then left at the next corner to soon leave through a gate on the right. Turn left along the lane for 50m, then right through a gate and follow the right-hand field edge.
8) Go through a gate and follow the enclosed path. Cross straight over a track and continue through gates before following the right-hand field edge for 125m to a footpath sign.
9) (SU646613) – Turn left across the field to the corner. Go through into the next field, shortly head diagonally right across the field and then follow the right-hand boundary. Go through a gate and follow the right-hand edge to the corner, stay in the field and turn left following the boundary to a gate in the far corner (North Copse on right).
10) Keep ahead along the track (permissive path) and 25m after the track swings right, go left across the field. Continue through the trees, then a field to join a lane, with the Roman wall and church opposite and turn right; a short walk joins from the left.
11) (SU643623) – Follow the lane, keep ahead at the junction and as the road swings left go through the gate to visit the amphitheatre. Return to the lane and turn right for a short way and then left through the hedge, cross the footbridge and continue through two gates before turning right along the walls for half a mile, passing the North Gateway on the way. Go through a gate and turn right, with the field ahead, turn right and follow the enclosed path back to the car park.
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