This is a beautiful walk in a tranquil area in the north-west of the Forest only accessible by narrow lanes. Magnificent beech and oak woods sweep down to the Avon valley. We follow woodland paths to discover Hatchet Green, a delightfully friendly village far removed from the bustle of the 21st century, with its central green wide enough for a cricket pitch and thatched white-walled houses. Surprisingly, for the remoteness of the area, the Victorian school has over ninety pupils! From the village we follow part of the Avon Valley Path then leave it to stray over the border into Wiltshire and walk through Woodfalls to return to our starting point, the Woodfalls Inn.
1. Leave the inn by the main entrance and turn left to pass the Sports and Social Club on your left. Shortly you enter Hampshire, passing the county sign. At the junction keep straight on over the main road, following the sign for Woodgreen along Hale Road. Go through the gate by the cattle grid and bear left at the junction signed for Hale Purlieu and Woodgreen to a crossroads. Keep straight on steeply downhill to pass a track on your right.
2. Just past a 40 limit sign turn right through the gate immediately on your right by a fingerpost indicating a bridleway. (Ignore the other track on your right leading to a private house.) A woodland path winds for about 3/4 mile to a crosspath.
16/01/2012, correction by Hellen: the 40mph limit sign has been moved almost a mile down the road so do not look for it. The bridleway is at the bottom of the slope before the roads begins to climb again.
3. Turn right, following the bridleway sign, to take another woodland path shaded by fine beech trees. Keep ahead over a crossing track, still following the bridleway sign, and continue uphill to a gravel road. Cross the road and follow the bridleway sign up to a small gate. Go through and cross the grass ahead to another small gate in front of a barn. From the gate follow the path as it bears a little right past Hale Farm. Go through the next gate and follow the attractive bridleway with beech woods on your right and meadows on your left. Continue along the bridleway past a footpath on your right to meet a crossing track. Keep ahead to follow the track towards the houses of Hatchet Green. Soon you reach the lanes surrounding a wide green. Don't miss the carving on the green a little to your right. It is believed to be a horse and was carved by a local sculptor to commemorate the millennium.
4. Turn left with the cricket pitch on your right to a T-junction, then turn left again for a few yards to an iron gate on your right. Go through the gate to follow part of the Avon Valley Path. Continue past Hatchet Gate Farm with a fence on your right. When the fence turns right keep straight ahead downhill and look carefully for a stile leading into woods. Cross the stile, continue over another stile and descend through woodland.
5. Just after a private track leads off your track on the left, the way divides. Leave the Avon Valley Path at this point and turn right along a clear path winding along the side of a valley. This soon becomes a wide track. Now for some careful navigation that appears to me to be very odd! Just before the track begins to descend to curve left and run uphill, look for a yellow arrow footpath sign on a post in the valley on your left. Apparently we are intended to leave the track and follow the signs on posts to cross the shallow valley to rejoin the track on the top of the hill! Turn left through a gate and follow an asphalt drive to a crosstrack.
6. Turn right to walk through Woodfalls to the B3080 and turn left to the Woodfalls Inn.
Breamore House, Anglo-Saxon church and Countryside Museum, to the west of Woodfalls, just off the A338. The house was completed in 1583 by William Dodington, auditor of the Tower Mint. Later the house passed to Sir Edward Hulse and it is still the Hulse family home. Opening times vary.
The start and end of this trail is the Woodfalls Inn. From the point where the M27 becomes the A31, take the B3079 towards Fordingbridge. In Brook turn onto the B3078 then take the B3080 towards Downton. The road runs through part of Hale to a junction. Keep to the B3080 as it curves right and the Woodfalls Inn is about 150 yards further on your right. Customers may leave their cars in the pub car park while they are walking. There is a bus service to Salisbury and Hale from Woodfalls. The nearest train station is Salisbury.
Mon 16 Jan 2012, 07:51
A correction has been added to the instructions, a big thanks to Hellen for providing it.