New Alresford

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New Alresford © Dave Jacobs
Watercress beds, near New Alresford © Stephen McKay
Church at Old Alresford © Colin Babb

Water, water everywhere' could well be the motto for this walk, which follows the river Alre and passes some of the many ponds it feeds. New Alresford was chosen in the 13th century by the Bishop of Winchester as a suitable place to found a new town, for its waters were ideal for powering mills. Today, it is noted for its watercress.

1. From the Globe, walk back towards the village centre via The Soke (a name which means the bishop's lands), with the Old Fire Station of 1881 on the left. The Wayfarer's Walk is met at the foot of Broad Street, where you turn right and right again, down Mill Lane. Almost immediately, turn left into Ladywell Lane on a path which passes Ladywell Cottage, with its attractive white wicket fence, and then passes between a stream on the right and Ladywell Lakes, situated behind a fence on the left. It passes a small public garden on the left, given in 1951 in memory of 'the fallen in the two great wars' to the people of Alresford by the Rt Hon Sir Francis Lindley of the Weir House, Alresford. Walk by the Fulling Mill, a fine timbered house dating from the 13th century, and continue past rushing water to the foot of a cul-de-sac, where you turn right at a fingerpost. The path then follows the stream on the right, skirting a recreation field on the left, then passing another lake on the left, edged by that rare sight, a laid hedge.

2. The path winds round an old brick-built pumping house and dog-legs across to the other side of the stream to rise to houses. It proceeds past the houses under huge horse chestnut trees and, soon after passing a private track on the right, turns sharp right up a flight of steps cut in a bank and continues across a field up to a minor road.

3. Here it dog-legs left and right to a fingerpost, then continues through a field gate and heads up the right-hand side of a field, alongside a hedge, where the farmer has thoughtfully left a good wide path. Behind are views of Arlebury House, once visited by Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, and its lakes, whilst Alresford spreads out to the left. Ahead, to the right, is Old Alresford church and a kilometre to the north lies the site of the deserted village of Abbotstone.

4. The path emerges on a minor road at a field gate and fingerpost. Our route turns right and then left along the Ox-Drove, an ancient drovers' lane. (Those requiring a shorter walk can continue along the minor road to Point 6 below). The Ox-Drove winds its way between hedges and after 800 metres meets another track, where the route turns right onto a deep-cut track, which is another part of Ox-Drove. This continues to the edge of a farmyard on the right, which has a footpath running through it.

5. You turn right onto this footpath and follow it straight ahead, leaving Manor Farm Barns, including a large thatched barn, on the right. About 100 metres further on the footpath leaves the farm track and cuts up right over a stile to continue beside a hedge. Beyond the hedge are watercress beds, overlooked by Old Alresford church, once served by a clergyman whose wife, Mary Sumner, founded the Mothers' Union at Alresford in the last century. The path emerges onto a gravel track that leads to a minor road at a fingerpost.

6. The route turns left, passes over a stream and enters a 30 mph zone. Here a footpath turns off right across running water, passing more watercress beds on the left. Watercress can be bought from a chest beside the path, here there is an honesty box. The path continues past Arle Mill, beyond which can be seen the causeway that holds back the waters of Alresford Pond, originally an Episcopal fishpond. The route emerges by the pounding cascades of Town Mill. A path turns left between walls just beyond the mill and crosses a small bridge. It turns sharp right and emerges opposite the Globe, on the drive of Mill Lane House.

Trail Location

The trail starts at the Globe on the Lake pub in New Alresford. New and Old Alresford are really one large village, which is located 7 miles east of Winchester. From the B3047, which passes through the village, turn northwards down Broad Street in the centre. The Globe will be found on the right, beyond a dog-leg bend at the foot of Broad Street. Park in Broad Street, or in the pay and display car par by the Mid-Hants Railway (Watercress Line).

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