Weekend Walk 63 – Mill Barrow Down to Soberton – Wayfarers Walk

A proper South Downs Walk. Continuing along the long distance path from the downs south of Kilmeston, along a bit of the South Downs Way before cutting south past Lomer, Preshaw, the legendary Betty Mundy’s Bottom and Corhampton Down, noisy that day with the shooting. The path then heads in a more easterly direction past Corhampton golf course and onto Fir Down above Droxford. After the village we cross the River Meon and follow the water meadows to the small village of Soberton. Outside the White Lion pub I met a white cat, who I was told is deaf and blind.

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Hampshire Architecture – Droxford

Droxford is a Hampshire village situated in the Meon Valley. It has the busy A32 running through the middle of it, with the river Meon just to the East along with the former Meon Valley Railway. Most of the old buildings are right on the main road, with some set back on Mill Lane and near the church. In the village you will find listed cottages and houses from the C15 to the C19, although mainly Georgian. Larger houses are the Manor House (II*), Fir Hill, West House and The Old Rectory (II*). Next to the river is the church, of Norman origin. Out of the village are some listed farmhouses, barns and their C18 granaries.

Here I present all of the listed buildings in the parish, except for a couple of barns that I couldn’t get access to. Thank you to all the property owners who gave me permission to photograph. My favourites today are The Malt House and Mill Cottage, appearing first.

The Malt House Droxford C18 Mill Cottage Droxford C16

Walk: Hen Wood / Westbury Park

Hen Wood lies between West Meon and East Meon, south of Westbury Park, at the northern end of the Meon Valley. It’s one of the larger woods in the area where I live, but is only about two square km. (This shows how broken up the woodlands are in Central Hampshire.) Still, where there isn’t woodland the area is very sparsly populated. I did see one stunning newbuild home at East End, and met one of the owners nearby. I couldn’t tell whether I had right to walk in the woods. I suppose not, but there were none of the usual PRIVATE NO RIGHT OF WAY signs placed near to the footpaths.

I started at Westbury House, a care home, former school and private home. Just behind the house, the footpath leads south, and very soon I was in atmospheric woods, with many well established trees.

Westbury House to Horsedown Farm

Westbury Park Woods

Westbury Park Woods

Old farm machinery near Horsedown Farm:

Old farm machinery

After the old farmhouse, the tracks become wider, at the east of the woods.

Hen Wood

Each tree has its own character:

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Near Halnaker Lane, some views across the Meon Valley to the north to Riplington and Drayton:

Meon Valley North

And at the south side of the wood, some views to the South Downs, specifically Salt Hill and Teglease Down:

Salt Hill South Downs

South Downs

Teglease Down

Walking quickly past a clay pigeon shooting area, I headed north east, downhill toward Coombe Lane:

Hen Wood Hampshire

Hen Wood Meon Valley

Views from the lane:

From Coombe Lane

From Coombe Lane

Reentering the woods at Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve, I peaked into Westbury Park, and watched the crop waves in the wind:

Westbury Park Hampshire

The reserve:

Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve

At its northern end, the lane crosses the Meon. I really like this early 20th Century type of white road barrier:

Coombe Lane Meon Bridge

Then into a field of calves with their mothers. Even the cows were curious and they all followed me across the field:

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I stopped at a delightful spot at the river, under a large tree. Timeless:

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Then I was back in the grounds of the house, looking for the remains of the church. I saw this ruin but it doesn’t look church-like:

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Snooped about the grounds a bit, sort of pretending to be a visitor. Well I was, but not to a guest. The house was rebuilt after a fire in the early 1900s:

Westbury House East Meon

Last view into the park:

Westbury Park East Meon

Weekend Walk 10 – South Downs Way – Cheriton to West Meon

On Saturday I again walked some of the South Downs Way. I left the car at West Meon then took the bus to Cheriton for the starting point. It’s a couple of km from there back to the path, to the west. After crossing the A272, the path slowly rises back onto the downs at Millbarrow. I saw one of the burial mounds up there, near the Milbuty pub. Then it’s great views as I headed east, seeing Hinton Ampner House to the north and the Isle of Wight to the south. From Beacon Hill, there are great views to the north, east and south into the valley. The path then descends into the lush Meon valley to Exton. I then followed the Meon Valley Trail back to West Meon. All in all it took five hours, with 16 miles of the South Downs Way completed now. Here’s a video I made.