This modern hotel is located in a lovely country location between Newbury and Basingstoke and…
Wayfarer's Walk: White Hill to Inkpen Beacon
A spectacular and fitting conclusion to the Wayfarer’s Walk as the trail climbs steadily through remote downland country to its finish at Inkpen Beacon
Virtually all of this final stage of the Wayfarer’s Walk is accompanied by some of the most spectacular scenery in southern England. High up on a ridge of chalk hills separating Berkshire from Hampshire and nearly one thousand feet above sea level, the trail explores a lush green patchwork of fields and rolling downland. However, there is more to this stretch of the Wayfarer’s Walk than miles of fine scenery. Along the way, the walk passes the inspiration for a literary classic and the setting for a hugely popular period drama series broadcast on television around the world.
From the White Hill car park cross the B3051 and head west over Cannon Heath Down. The terrain is a mix of grass and chalk. The chalk drains away any rainwater, so it is never too wet for walking and is equally suitable for the racehorse gallops, which can be seen from the track. The views are magnificent as you head for Watership Down. It was the author Richard Adams who chose this lonely hillside as the setting for his magical story of rabbits who journey here in search of a new home when their ancient warren is threatened with destruction. Published in 1972, the book became a worldwide bestseller. Passing a trig point at 777ft (237m) on top of Watership Down, the route follows a path downhill by trees and then crosses a quiet lane to a fine avenue of beech trees opposite.
Follow the avenue and down to the right, at the foot of the escarpment, is Sydmonton Court, the country home of the composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Beyond the beech trees the Wayfarer’s Walk crosses Ladle Hill, an Iron Age fortification, which together with the fort on nearby Beacon Hill, defended the ancient route that is now the A34. The Wayfarer’s Walk heads southwest over Great Litchfield Down to reach a footpath and bridleway waymark just before the busy A34.
To avoid crossing the road, the safest route is south for 600m along the permitted path beside the A34. Turn right at a track and once through the underpass, turn right along the edge of farmland to rejoin the Wayfarer’s Walk. Soon the trail passes a memorial to the aircraft designer Sir Geoffrey De Havilland (1882-1965) who carried out his first flight in his homemade aeroplane at nearby Seven Barrows in 1910. Climb steadily beside trees and over grassy farmland and downland before joining a hard track merging from the right. Along here the views to the north are of the 6,500-acre Highclere Estate with Beacon Hill and Sidown Hill visible nearby. Further on, the woodland track passes a turning for Heaven’s Gate, which is worth taking for a superb view of Highclere Castle, the location for the highly successful television series Downton Abbey. This is a permitted track and the times it is open are usually listed at the junction. Pass a castellated gatehouse to Highclere Castle before emerging on the A343.
The route crosses the road on a blind bend, so take extreme care. The Wayfarer’s Walk is about 75yds (69m) to the left and can be overgrown. Follow the track, muddy in places, to the next road just outside the village of Ashmansworth. Cross over and continue northwest, merging with a road before following a track to the car park below Combe Gibbet on top of Inkpen Beacon where the Wayfarer’s Walk concludes.
Mainly tracks; open downland and exposed hilltop
The spectacular ridge of hills dividing Berkshire and Hampshire
On a lead in the vicinity of the start and finish points, the A34 and the A343
OS Explorer 144 Basingstoke; 158 Newbury & Hungerford
Car park at White Hill and Inkpen Beacon
None on route
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
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