Richly contrasting scenery is a feature of this walk around the small village of Bramshaw close to the north-eastern border of the Forest. From the pub in Nomansland attractive grass-bordered lanes lead us across part of Penn Common, an undulating area of lush meadows and paddocks, dotted with farms.
Patches of heathland are grazed by cattle, sheep and pigs turned out at appropriate times of the year by the Commoners exercising their ancient rights. Then we enter a different world as we return through some of the Forest's most beautiful woods where massive oak and beech trees provide a haven for wildlife.
1. With your back to the pub head east along the lane away from the village. Follow the lane past several car parks, including Bramshaw Wood car park on your right, for about 3/4 mile to meet the B3079 road.
2. Cross the road and turn right to follow a pleasant footpath through the trees to the left of the road to the turning for Newbridge.
3. Turn left to follow the Newbridge lane across Penn Common. Continue for about a mile past Barford Farm to a lane on the right signed to Bramshaw and Fritham.
4. Bear right along the lane for about 1/4 mile to a footpath sign on the left by a white-railed footbridge.
5. Turn left over the bridge and take the track ahead leading to a brick-built farm. Just before the farm, pass a pond on your right and turn almost immediately right (there is a yellow arrow footpath sign on the wooden post supporting electric cables). Cross the grass, bearing slightly left for a few yards, and look carefully for a stile leading into the wood on your right.
6. Cross the stile and walk straight ahead through the wood to go over another stile into a meadow. Walk across the meadow with a fence on your left. Follow the fence as it curves a little right and cross the next stile to a track. Turn right and walk down to the B3079 in Bramshaw village.
7. The school is almost directly opposite (your starting point if you are using the bus). Turn left through the village for about 100 yards to an unsigned lane on your right.
8. Turn right and follow the lane to a road. Bear right for about 100 yards then turn right again up the drive leading to Bramble Hill Hotel. Shortly you will see the hotel on the hillside on your right.
9. As the drive passes the side of the hotel look carefully for a narrow gravel track on your left and a footpath sign. Turn left and follow the track as it curves right uphill to meet the drive opposite the clock tower on the former stables.
10. Turn left to go through a gate and follow the path into Bramshaw Wood. After a few yards the path divides and you can choose either the footpath (a footprint) or the bridleway (a horseshoe). Take the left hand path, the bridleway, and enjoy strolling through these lovely woods. Keep to the main track, ignoring all side paths, for about 3/4 mile heading north-west. The path rises to open heathland. Bear right for a few yards then resume heading north-west along a good path over the heath. On your right there is a wonderful view.
11. The path brings you to Piper's Wait car park. Turn right with your back to the car park and follow the partly gravelled path into the wood. After about 100 yards you meet a crosstrack. Turn left and follow the path downhill heading north-east. The path may be indistinct at times but keep ahead and shortly you will see the embankment marking the edge of Bramshaw Inclosure on your left. The path follows the line of the embankment. As you come to the foot of the valley the path appears to cease! Turn right to cross a stream in a gully then continue heading north-east along the main track, which rises to bring you to Bramshaw Wood car park and the lane you followed to begin the walk. Turn left to return to the Lamb Inn.
The starting point for this trail is The Lamb Inn, Nomansland. By car, the best approach is via the A36. Turn for Nomansland in Plaitford. Continue along the minor road for about 2.5 miles and the Lamb Inn is on your right. Or approach via the B3078 Fordingbridge road and continue north for about 2 miles to the pub on your left. Park in one of the car parks either side of the lane opposite the pub. From outside the Lamb Inn you can take a Wilts and Dorset bus to Romsey, journey time approximately 25 minutes. There is a mainline train station in Romsey.