A 10 mile walk between The Ship and Bell in Horndean village and The Hampshire Hog inn on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Country Park. The trail follows the Staunton Way footpath as it crosses the tops of the South Downs and includes a visit to the village of Chalton, whose origins date back to the iron age.
From The Ship and Bell walk up Blendworth Lane towards Blendworth village. As you enter the village and just before you reach Holy Trinity church, turn right onto a public footpath between two houses.
Cross the field between the fenced paddocks, over a stile and continue forward to Rowlands Castle Road. Turn left and after 50 metres take the footpath on your right beside a house. At the far end of the next field turn left onto Woodhouse Road and after 25 metres take the footpath on your right, at the point where the road bends left.
Follow the path across the field and then continue over Woodhouse Lane. Enter Wick Hanger and pass around the back of Idsworth House. As you leave the Idsworth estate descend towards an estate entrance. Cross over the road and join the Staunton Way long distance footpath.
The path climbs steadily up onto Idsworth Down, where there are nine Bronze Age burial mounds. To your right, at the bottom of the valley St Hubert's Chapel (built 1053) can be seen. Continue across the tops of the Downs before descending alongside St. Michael and All Angels church into the pretty hamlet of Chalton.
Leaving The Red Lion continue north along the Staunton Way, climbing gently out of Chalton and up once again into the open space of the Downs.
As you meet the tree line of Queen Elizabeth Forest turn left, rather than continuing on the Staunton Way. Follow the track around the edge of the forest. When the forest edge bears right continue forward over a stile then across open fields to the A3 dual carriageway. There is a short but steep descent followed immediately by an equally steep ascent. Cross the A3 via the overhead road bridge, turn right and The Hampshire Hog inn can be found on your left after 200 metres.
Retrace your footsteps back over the A3 and follow the road to the junction of the A3 and Chalton Lane. Join the track, marked no access for motorised vehicles and horses, which at first runs parallel to the A3 before turning left to reach the top of Windmill Hill. From the summit follow the footpath that hugs the right side of the broad ridge and descend over Blendworth Down passing under a line of pylons. After a mile you will reach a lane. Turn left and walk down the slope to New Barn Farm on your left. Shortly after the farm and the turning into Crabden Lane climb the stile on your right and cross the field, first heading for the base of a pylon and then for the three trees that stand in the centre of this open field.
Climb a stile to leave the field and then a second 100 metres further on to join the lane near to Blendworth Farm. Turn right and then after 200 metres turn left into Crabden Lane. In Blendworth village turn right into Blendworth Lane and follow this to return to the The Ship and Bell.
Places of Interest
St. Michael and All Angels church in Chalton is a magnificent building with fine acoustics. The present structure is of late 11th or early 12th century and is of the two-cell type typical of that period of early Norman design.
From both Chalton and Clanfield you can take a short detour to visit Butser Ancient Farm, an experimental archaeology project that demonstrates farming in the British Iron Age circa 300 BC.
The trail starts at The Ship and Bell in Horndean. However, as the route is circular you can join the walk at other points. Parking is available at all three pubs. The nearest railway stations are at Rowlands Castle, 1.5 miles south of Finchdean, and at Petersfield, north of Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Bus services 37 and 41 connect Horndean and Clanfield to Petersfield and Liss to the north and Havant and Portsmouth to the south.