A hike between Winchester and Salisbury through rural Hampshire and Wiltshire
The Clarendon Way is a path linking between Winchester the cathedral city of Hampshire, and Salisbury the cathedral city of Wiltshire. The route is approximately 25 miles in length. The route is well waymarked its entire route and shown on OS maps (130, 131, OL32). It passes out of Winchester over Farley’s Mount, across the River Test before passing through chalk hills and landscape with dense forests and tracks passing quaint villages and the historic Clarendon Palace to get to Salisbury. The walk takes in some undiscovered areas of Hampshire and Wiltshire and is an amazing walk full of beauty.
The route starts out in Winchester, an ancient and important city of England dating back to roman times. The city is beautiful and historic with magnificent buildings and a pleasant and traditional atmosphere. Though a small city, it has many attractions such as the beautiful and grand Winchester cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in the UK dating back to 1079 and built from ornate stone. Towards the higher part the city is the magnificent stone buildings forming part of Winchester Castle where the Great Hall is located, famous for its links with King Arthur and housing the Round Table. By the banks of the River Itchen there is the Old Bishops Palace, again an amazing site to visit. The River Itchen flows through a mill and beautiful gardens and parkland flowing giving a tranquil atmosphere. The streets are narrow but beautiful and traditional and a pleasant place to visit, dotted with many small interesting attractions such as the statue of King Alfred the Great and The Buttercross. There are many museums such as the city. The city is beautiful and historic and needs time to explore and to be enriched. It is a truly amazing city.
Entrance to Winchester Cathedral
The Great Hall Winchester
Heading out on the route follows the B3049 for about a mile passing traditional residential buildings before passing the impressive frontage of the hospital. The path then turns right down a residential street. Passing stone built university buildings and then heading straight on crosses into a green residential lane. This is followed to the junction past the golf course where the route turns right. By the road there is good views across the golf course with its ornate and coloured trees combined with a vivid green landscape, and onward views north-westward and across some of the flat chalk landscape north of Winchester. The road follows eventually becoming a small tree tunnelled track before emerging onto another minor road. At this point turn right. The route follows the road though often there is a small path on the right. This continues for approximately 2 ½ Mile. In this duration a wide variety of deciduous and coniferous woodland is passed in Farley Mount Country Park, and in some places giving way into views northward.
The path turns left onto a small byway and then turning left a short while after comes to a path leading up to Farley Mount. This monument is bright white and is dedicated to a horse that won a victory in 1734 after falling down a chalk pit a year earlier. From this point the views towards the south are incredible with the landscape opening in front of one’s eyes. Views into Southampton, The Isle of Wight and the beginning of the South Downs west of Winchester can be seen clearly with the beginning of Wiltshire in the distance. The viewpoint from here is amazing. Heading back to the byway and turning left the view north shortly comes into here with views into the Wessex Downs in the distance and clear views of the Test Valley. Turning right where the path forks into a bridleway again offers good views on its decent with the local countryside being vivid filled with an array of green fields and yellow reap seed fields slowly undulating. Upon meeting the road, the path turns left and follows a byway through beautiful woodland along the track occasionally opening out onto view fields. The Clarendon Way turns right and leaves the woodland passing the edge of a horse gallop. Then the path undulates over lush fields with views onto stunning countryside before descending into the village of King’s Sombourne. The route turns left and passes through a traditional and quaint village with a handful of vivid thatched cottages and numerous buildings in a stone and brick style typical of Hampshire. A reasonably quaint village with a stream running alongside the main road and in the heart of the village. After heading right across the stream in the village centre the Clarendon Way crosses the main A Road and continues up a quiet lane.
View from Farley Mont
Landscape North on descent from Farley Mont
Landscape before Kings Sombourne
The next path on the left follows the side of the road to the top of the hill before turning left down a tarmacked track. There are good views of the Test Valley from this point. The path slowly descends until crossing the first bridge, a small river which is a small branch of the River Test. The water is deep and clear and tree lined with overhanging willow trees in a very peaceful steady flowing river. Shortly after a bigger bridge is crossed over the River Test and its main channel. Here the tranquil river is reasonably shallow, beautiful and tree lined. The path carries onto the main road in the village of Houghton, again a very beautiful and traditional village. The route passes left onto the main road taking the next road on the right leaving the village and shortly becoming a farmer’s track. The track follows above Wallop Brook creating a beautiful green valley with rolling downs. The track undulates slightly before descending onto the outskirts of Broughton. The path goes right then left and follows the back of the village through a clear path before turning left and entering the village. The village of Broughton is a quaint traditional village consisting of vivid thatched cottages, old village buildings, beautiful gardens and a pleasant Hampshire atmosphere. Its stone church is impressive and beautiful in its grand style and stone buttresses. The village has two good pubs and marks the halfway point on the route and a good place to split if doing the route over two days.
1st Crossing of the smaller part of the River Test
Traditional thatched cottage in Broughton
From the centre of the village the route goes to the main road, Crossing and turning right then left follows a dead end road. Where this splits into a byway take the path on the right. The route follows a beautiful tree lined track heading steadily upward with occasional views outward and a variety of deciduous trees and bushes. At the top the path splits again. At this point the Clarendon Way forks rightward. However, in the field on the left the view opens giving outstanding distant views southward and towards Pepperbox Hill. The views from this point are amazing and there is a trig point. Carrying on following the Clarendon Way the path undulates. It stays mostly as a track with occasional stunning views through its tree lined route onto the surrounding countryside. The route is peaceful and follows the course of a Roman Road. The route carry’s straight on onto a road at Buckholt Farm before joining a byway again with dense beautiful woodland and array of bluebells on the left hand side. The entrance into Wiltshire is marked by a hidden thatched cottage and interesting buildings. The stunning scenery continues down a track until meeting the next road.
Landscape before Buckholt Farm
The route carries down the road and in a straight on direction down a byway when the road turns. This is the entrance to the Village of Middle Winterslow, a large village with modern and old housing throughout. The route marked on OS maps and the signed route varies slightly. The signed route follows the back of the village initially crossing the first field on the left diagonally before following a track to another road. Turn Left then the footpath on the right brings out in the centre of the village where there is a shop and pub. The route carries straight on to follow the edge of the playing field to then follow the path coming out at West Winterslow Church after passing a beautiful white manor house. Winterslow Church with a large beautiful stone roof with a tower and a traditional Wiltshire Church and an impressive building.
The track crosses the road straight before taking the first footpath straight on. This follows the edge of fields with a view over the green and yellow landscape with a very chalky and rolling atmosphere. The area is quiet and very peaceful as it slowly descends. Farm buildings and Frisdown village can be seen. The countryside in the distance of Porton Down can be seen clearly and vividly. This is a beautiful section of the route. The path swings leftward and joins a track turning right to descend downward. Where this swings sharply right a bridleway carries straight on into the village of Pitton. The back of the village is mainly modern homes with some traditional however the route turns right to head towards the church. Pitton church is very small but incredibly beautiful in appearance with its small stone structure and prism topped tower. The route heads leftward down a quiet lane lined with traditional cottages and beautiful buildings with some thatches in a pleasant and beautiful small village. The route carries on straight at the crossroads, however there is a good pub by turning left and heading up the hill with good ales. The route leaves Pitton by turning right a few hundred yards past the crossroads.
Landscape before Pitton
The next path ascends slowly before turning left and follows the edge of woodland passing a farm yard. The path changes into a woodland track passing a mainly coniferous and beautiful forest gradually becoming a traditional deciduous forest. The floor was carpeted with bluebells, an amazing sight. After just over a mile the path turns right and the route emerges into light. The path passes two sharp bends and on the right hand side there is ruins. This is the once grand and deeply historic Clarendon Palace which dates back to the 1200’s. This was the Kings Palace and over time was converted into being a royal residence with numerous buildings, halls and stables as to which the foundations of these lay in a sizeable sight. The Palace has many strong links as far back as King Henry II and had been previously a site used by royals with the surrounding parkland being some of the largest in England. The palace was used until it became derelict in 1645. The remains are being preserved but show much of its layout and some of the ruins in the structure of the great hall. This is an interesting and significant part of English History and is well explained by information boards when visiting.
Next the route continues along the track and shortly a view of Salisbury Cathedral with its impressive size and spired structure dominates the valley ahead. The track continues with the cathedral getting ever closer. The surrounding countryside is beautiful and consists of chalk fields in a variety of green shades. The route turns left to join a diagonal path crossing a field to meet a tarmacked track. Following this to the left passes a farm and to the entrance of Salisbury. The route crosses the River Borne on a small stone bridge before continuing to the next main road. Turning left then crossing the railway the road carries on around. At the mini roundabout turn left which descends downward under the Salisbury bypass and into the city centre. The route through the suburbs had had a peaceful atmosphere and comes passed impressive stone building in a quiet residential area.
Salisbury is a beautiful and old city and the cathedral city of Wiltshire laid out in a medieval layout. The city has many ornate and architecturally interesting buildings with a pleasant atmosphere with many shops and attractions. History is present through this ancient and amazing city. The original city Old Saurm which is located a few miles north dates back up to 600BC but the city was moved in the 1200’s into the valley as New Sarum which is what Salisbury is now. The city is home to many museums and interesting and beautiful buildings. The centrepiece is Salisbury Cathedral, visible and dominant on the landscape for miles and beautifully stone construction. Building started in 1221 and is still present today with later additions such as its spire, one of the tallest in the UK. Apart from its size, its ornate decoration of a multitude of stone carved figures is outstanding and interesting. Another great city and place to end a great walk.
The Clarendon Way runs the entire distance between Winchester and Salisbury which cities are both historic, interesting and amazing in their own rights. The history on route is interesting and important particularly in both cities and at Clarendon Palace. The impressive route combines some of the more undiscovered parts of Hampshire and Wiltshire and passes varied landscapes from woodland, to open fields, to views stretching well into the distance across the chalk down land. The route is peaceful as following the paths and tracks across the counties. A vivid and beautiful walk passing beautiful landscapes and quaint English villages. This is an outstanding well waymarked route to follow.
The route is beautiful and passes two rural counties. It would be interesting to explore more of the rural counties as many areas are undiscovered yet are beautiful such as the Test Valley in Hampshire. Hampshire and Wiltshire have many options for amazing and undiscovered walks.