St Mary Bourne is one of the most beautiful of the many delightful villages tucked away in the river valleys in north-west Hampshire. On either side of the Bourne stream which flows through the village, gently curving meadows rise to wooded hillsides.
From the village, with its rows of thatched, flint and brick or half-timbered houses, our path crosses meadows and then climbs to the Portway, a Roman road built to link Old Sarum and Silchester. Downland paths with fine views lead to a cobbled byway which brings us back to our starting point, the Bourne Valley Inn.
1. With the front of the inn on your left, turn left down the side of the building, leaving the inn sign on your right. Cross the gravel into the streamside garden and turn right to cross the stream over a small white-railed bridge. Follow the path ahead to cross a bridge over the Bourne. Go over a stile and continue with a fence on your right. The path crosses the next meadow, passing a house on the left, to a stile by a gate. Over the stile you come to a lane.
2. Turn right, continue past a lane on the left, and keep to the lane as it curves right. After about 50 yards turn left, directed by a footpath sign. Go through a gate and follow the field path ahead with a lake on your right. At the other end of the lake you come to a gate.
3. Do not go through the gate, but turn left just before it and walk up the meadow towards woodland. Go over a stile and keep straight on uphill through the trees, over a crosstrack, to go under a pole and leave the wood. Walk up the meadow to a thick hedge.
4. At this point you join the Portway which bears very slightly left beside the hedge. Follow this wide way to a crossing track.
5. Turn right and follow the track past a house on the left and farm buildings on the right to a crossroads. Cross over with a signpost on your right, cross the next lane and take the unsigned narrow lane directly ahead. Follow the lane, past a footpath on the right, until, at the foot of a descent, you come to a path on the right signed 'Byway'.
6. Turn right along this beautiful raised woodland path and follow it past a path on the left as it descends towards the village and becomes asphalted. Bear right for a few yards to a gate on the right.
7. Go through the gate and follow the field path over two stiles. A narrow path beside a hedge on the left leads to a lane. Cross, go through a squeeze stile and continue through another squeeze stile to a sports field. Cross the field towards a gate and just before it turn left down the side of the sports field with the lake on your right. Go through a gate, bearing a little right past the entrance to the village hall to the road.
8. Bear right over the Bourne and follow the road to the 12th century church which has a huge Tournai marble font. Continue along the road for another 30 yards and turn right along a lane marked 'Private Road' (applies to cars only).
9. After about 200 yards the road divides. Follow the left-hand lane to the stile on the left which you crossed earlier in the walk. Retrace your steps to the Bourne Valley Inn and your car.
The trail starts at the The Bourne Valley Inn. St Mary Bourne is about 4 miles north of Andover beside the B3048. Turn for the village from the A343 at Hurstbourne Tarrant to reach the Bourne Valley Inn on your right. Patrons may leave their cars at the inn while they walk but please ask permission first.