Hurstbourne Tarrant and the River Swift

Looking back over Hurstbourne Tarrant © Andy Oakes
Bluebells in Doles Wood © Andy Oakes
The River Swift near Ibthorpe © Andy Oakes

An enjoyable walk in the wooded hills south of Hurstbourne Tarrant, finishing with a level stroll back into the village alongside the River Swift. The walk is best tackled in spring, when the woods are carpeted with bluebells. Note that care must be taken at the two points where the A343 is crossed.

Leave the car park and with your back to the playing fields turn right up a farm track. Pass a metal gate and continue towards some farm buildings. At the farm buildings turn left and follow the footpath (signed) with a fence on your left.

After about 300m, the footpath turns to the right (signed) and heads uphill towards woodland. Where the path meets a fence by the woods, turn left briefly, before a signpost leads you diagonally into the woods on your right. Before you enter the trees, take time to enjoy the view back over Hurstbourne Tarrant.

Follow the path uphill through pleasant woodland until you meet a broad path [1]. If you turned left here you would continue following the Test Way, but instead turn right on a signed footpath. This level, grassy path leads through the woods with glimpses through the trees to your right of distant views. In spring, large areas of the woods on your left are carpeted in bluebells.

After about 1km, the track turns left - however the footpath continues straight on (there is a signpost on the run-down building to your right). Follow this narrower footpath straight on. Note that the ground can be slightly boggy on this path after rain.

[2] Cross the A343 (carefully) and continue up the minor road opposite,alongside Hurstbourne Common (wooded). Again the woods are full of bluebells on both sides of the road in spring. Continue on the road for about 0.6km, until the trees end on your left. Here turn right on a footpath on the edge of woodland.

Where the path emerges from the woodland, cross the stile and continue straight on across the field to another stile. Cross this and a second stile, and follow the pleasant path heading gently downhill. In spring the fields on your left may contain some lambs and any children (or adults) in your party may enjoy stroking the friendly horses in a field towards the bottom of the hill. Continue on past a few houses until you reach the road.

Turn left along the road for 0.25km, turning right just after the road crosses a stream, up a minor road. Shortly afterwards, take the track to your right [3], signed The Test Way and follow the path between fences with horses in the fields on both sides. Presently, the fences on both sides finish and the path runs alongside the River Swift back into Hurstbourne Tarrant. Follow the path between buildings to reach the A343 [4], which should be crossed and then followed round the sharp left hand bend into the centre of the village and the pub.

To complete the walk, turn left off the A343 back towards the church and either follow the route in to the car park, or turn right earlier into the children's play area and recreation grounds. The car park will then be found off to your left at the edge of the fields.

The Test Way

The Test Way is a 44 mile walking trail following the River Test from Inkpen in Berkshire to Southampton Water. The river is famous for trout fishing and features in many excellent walks in Hampshire, including this trail.

Trail Location

Parking is available in the parish car park (signed) just before reaching the church on the B3048 from Hurstbourne Tarrant to Stoke.

Hampshire Cottages

Beautiful Hampshire holiday cottages and self-catering accommodation perfectly located for walking and cycling the trails of this unique county

Readers' Comments

  • Sat 31 Dec 2016, 09:15
    Rob Stanley from Walk and Cycle

    Thank you to everyone who has notified us of the incorrect road name - A303 should read A343. The road name on this page has been changed. However the PDF version still has the A303 named - we no longer have the Word document so cannot correct it there. Please be aware of this error when walking the route.

  • Thu 4 Jun 2015, 19:36

    I just parked along the A343 alongside the Doles Wood (which is the woodland at along the south part of this walk) and there is a sign saying reserved rights, not open to the public.... Is it just the section by the A343 which is off limits?

  • Mon 10 Feb 2014, 13:44
    A Pedant

    I think you mean the A343 not the A303, otherwise you are going to have to add 13 miles to the distance walked.