Whitchurch is the southern gateway to the North Wessex Downs and this walk crosses two of the typical landscapes of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the open chalk downland and the valleys of the chalk streams. There is natural beauty, traditional local industry and quite possibly the most remote wooden benches in southern England all to be seen en route.
The open chalk and flint downland at the start of the walk chronicles human activity from the Neolithic Period through to the age of steam. This is a landscape crossed by ancient tracks and country lanes, where millennia of itinerant chapmen or pedlars once plied their trade.
You will enjoy long views across agricultural fields to the chalk ridges, before dropping down into the valley of the River Bourne to the quintessential English thatched village of St. Mary Bourne; here, we will break for a picnic lunch.
Continuing through the village you will pass traditional water meadows and modern-day watercress beds, set against the backdrop of the impressive railway viaduct that spans the width of the narrow chalk stream valley, before returning via road and track to the centre of Whitchurch.
Please bring food, snacks and drinks. There will be a break for lunch in the centre of St. Mary Bourne, which has a village shop where you can buy additional snacks and drinks if needed. We will walk at a moderate pace, with short stops for information and to take in the views.
Walk leader/organisation: Simon Kaufman, Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome
- Booking: Free – Booking essential – 25 places
- Distance & approximate duration: 9 miles (14.5 km) – 5 hours
- Difficulty: Fairly strenuous (challenging, steep gradients, rough terrain). For experienced walkers.
- Accessibility: Suitable for older children (12+). Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult (see useful information). Steps/stiles on the route. Not suitable for wheelchairs.
- Dogs: Dogs on leads welcome
- Refreshments: Bring food, snacks and drinks as needed. There will be a break for lunch in St. Mary Bourne, where there is a small village shop for additional refreshments.
- Toilets: There are no toilets at Whitchurch Station (meeting point). There are public toilets in the centre of St. Mary Bourne (lunch stop) and at Whitchurch Bell St. car park (near the end of the walk).
- Meeting point: Whitchurch Railway Station Forecourt, Station Road, Whitchurch, Hampshire, RG28 7ER. What3Words: tips.steps.reworked. OS grid reference: SU 463 489.
- Public transport: Rail – arrive Whitchurch Station, South Western Railway (Waterloo-Exeter line). Bus services include bus no. 86 between Winchester and Whitchurch; bus no. 76 between Basingstoke and Whitchurch or Andover and Whitchurch. For times, see Stagecoach.
- Parking: Paid parking at Whitchurch Station car park, RG28 7ER.
For general booking information, health and safety advice, terms and conditions please see our useful information page.
Sightseeing and refreshments
- Whitchurch Silk Mill and Riverside Café is open Tue-Sun 10.30am-5pm. See Whitchurch Silk Mill – Industrial heritage museum in rural Hampshire.
- There are pubs, coffee shops and takeaways in Whitchurch at the end of the walk. See Whitchurch, Hampshire.
- Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, is open 11am-3 pm – a National Trust property housing visionary paintings by Stanley Spencer. See Sandham Memorial Chapel | National Trust.
- Highclere Castle, Highclere, is open for guided tours May-July – a Victorian country house and setting for Downton Abbey with sumptuous rooms, grounds and exhibitions. See Highclere Castle.
Find out more about Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome.
Whitchurch, Hampshire, is a member of the national Walkers are Welcome scheme, which aims to support and encourage walking in the local area, for residents and visitors alike. Local Walkers are Welcome volunteers promote walks and help to maintain and improve footpaths in the area. See Whitchurch Walks.
This walk is brought to you by our partner: