Hannington

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Hannington Village Green © Colin Smith
Freemantle Park Down © Andrew Smith
Farmland, Hannington © Andrew Smith

Hannington is a beautiful village of brick, flint and thatched houses half-hidden among tall trees and hedges. The magnificent green is overlooked by a Norman church and surrounded by farm buildings and cottages. It makes the perfect place for a picnic or just to relax after your walk. In the centre a pointed roof covers a well head, installed in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. A visit to the church is a 'must'. Some of the sturdy Norman pillars, built of solid chalk, are inscribed with Crusaders' crosses and there are two fine memorial windows engraved by Lawrence Whistler.

Just north of the village the high downland falls away in a steep escarpment to give breathtaking views over the Thames valley. This walk climbs the down to enjoy the view, crossing the route of the Portway, the Roman road that formed part of the link between London and Salisbury (Old Sarum). We follow the edge of the escarpment for nearly 2 miles, passing the site of an ancient settlement, before taking field paths to return to Hannington.

Walk beside the village green to return to the road. The charming thatched cottage facing the green dates from the 14th century. Turn left to walk through the village to the junction with Meadham Lane. Turn left along Meadham Lane and continue to a footpath sign on the right.

Turn right through a gate and follow the path uphill with a hedge on the right to a gap opening into a field. The path swings left here for about 100 yards then turns right, to run beside a wood on the left and fields on the right. The path leaves the wood and drops down into a valley over the route of the Portway and climbs to join a white track. Follow the bridleway sign ahead down the white track between hedges. As the hedge on the left gives way to a wire fence look carefully for a stile on the left marked with footpath signs.

Turn left over the stile and follow a narrow path along the edge of the down with a fence on your left. Now you enjoy magnificent views all the way. After running through a fringe of trees, and then a small pine wood, the path divides.

Keep straight on at the division, maintaining your height, keeping the trees on your right and the fence on your left. Continue over a stile by a wooden barrier and follow a narrow path between bushes. The tall Kingsclere aerial is further up the field on the left. The path bears right for a few yards then left to continue, with the fence on the left and woods on the right, to a footpath sign on the left beside a stile.

Turn left over the stile into a field. There is no clear path at this point but keep straight ahead up the field aiming for the right-hand edge of a wood. Here you pick up a good path. Humps in the field on your left mark the site of a former village. Follow the path round the wood, leaving it on your left, towards a metal gate and stile.

Turn right just before the gate and stile and walk along the top of the field with a fence and hedge on the left. The path descends past the ridge of Park Pale. Cross double stiles and bear a little left then right to resume your former heading, with a hedge on the left. Descend through fields for about 1/2 mile and reach a stile.

Go over the stile to a crossing path and turn left to follow the path as it climbs gently uphill beside fields with a hedge on the right. Continue for about 3/4 mile as the path becomes hedged on the left. Go through an iron gate and keep to the path as it drops downhill to Meadham Lane. Turn left for a few yards then turn right down a metalled farm road. Pass Walkeridge Farm on the right and look for a stile and footpath signs on the left.

Cross the stile and take the clear path straight ahead over the field. At the far side follow the sign ahead and continue for about 3/4 mile to a small wooden gate on the right. Go through the gate and follow the path with a fence on the left. Cross the stile ahead, walk over the grass to cross another stile and follow the footpath sign beside trees on your right. The path curves right round a barn. Turn left to return to Hannington village green.

Getting There

Hannington is a small village in a fold of the North Hampshire Downs between Newbury and Basingstoke. Turn for Hannington off the A339 2 miles east of Kingsclere. Follow the lane for 2.5 miles, then bear left into the village to the village green, which is on your right. Park by the village green near the church.

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