An active walk in the North Wessex Downs, taking in Pilot Hill - Hampshire's highest point - the delightful villages of Ashmansworth and Faccombe and a section of the Wayfarers' Walk .
Starting from the centre of Ashmansworth, head north?west along the road, passing some delightful cottages and then leaving the village. Ignoring the road leading off to the left, continue straight on, with farmland on both sides until (about 0.5 miles from your start point ? depending on where you parked) you reach an obvious path crossing the road. This is the Wayfarers? Walk and is well signposted.
Head left on the broad track of the Wayfarers? Walk, through trees and farmland. As the path starts to rise there are some spectacular views north?west into Berkshire. Continue with woods on your right, carpeted with bulbs in spring, until you reach a barrier across the track. Here you join the road and continue in a similar direction for about 0.3 miles, heading slightly downhill to re?join the Wayfarers? Walk on a broad track signed on your left.
Follow the track, ignoring the private drive off to your left leading to a spectacularly situated ?Huf Haus?, passing another barrier to motor vehicles across the track. The views from the ridge here are well worth stopping for!
Continue until you meet a path crossing the track. After lingering to take a last look at the view to the north west, turn left over a stile and head south?west along the line of the crops (the path is not at all obvious) to meet a stile over an electric(!) fence. Follow the path, crossing another stile, and turn right, heading downhill on a broad track ? ignoring the private track off to the left. Continue along the track uphill and then down, with lovely open views over the rolling Hampshire countryside.
Go through another gate, continuing steeply downhill then ascending to a joining of tracks. Here go straight on up the track (yellow arrow) up a steepening hill. If you?re aiming to stop at The Jack Russell in Faccombe, then you?ll have earned your pint!
The track then heads into Faccombe, joining the road leading past the church (dating from the 17th century). Continue straight on, ignoring the road to your right, with Faccombe Manor on your left. Shortly afterwards, the next turning to the right leads to the village pond and the pub. Ignoring (or re?emerging from) it, continue on the road with the wall of the manor on your left.
Bear left on the road signposted to Ashmansworth for about 200 metres until you find a footpath on your left beside a farm gate. Follow this footpath, turning right where the track ahead becomes private, to enter woods dropping steeply downhill, with good views as the woods open out. Join the track beside the field bearing slightly right and continue to a meeting of tracks. Continue straight on (signposted) on the track keeping the barn to your right, heading uphill towards woodland. Enter the wood and follow the path to the right (ignoring the signed private tracks) emerging from the woods with another fine view.
Continue on the path (yellow arrows) around the edge of the field, then right and downhill, to join a signed path slightly off to the left through woodland. Follow this narrow but obvious path through the trees and brambles to descend steeply to the edge of a field. Head briefly left and then right to go downhill. Continue on the path, heading uphill to pass woodland and on towards some metal farm gates and the road.
Turn left on the road, heading back in to Ashmansworth to return to the start of the route.
Ashmansworth is the highest village in Hampshire at around 235m and affords excellent views over the surrounding countryside. Sadly the village pub, The Plough, closed in 2009, but the village remains popular with walkers and cyclists due to the accesibility of many excellent trails. The church is also worth a visit, dating back to the early 12th century.
This trail can be started in either Ashmansworth or Faccombe. My preference is for the later since there is then a pub at the end of the walk, The Plough in Ashmansworth having closed recently, but for ease of access the route is described from Ashmansworth. There is on street parking available in both villages.