Walk 480 - Faccombe and the Three County Walk
Saturday 9th October started in typical Autumnal fashion, with mist and fog lingering until mid-morning, before the low sun broke through. Nine of us (including two visitors) gathered in the picturesque and privately owned village of Faccombe for a walk that promised three counties and several undulations. (I think that's Australian for hills.)
The walk started by heading west out of Faccombe to Netherton. On the way, we were passed by a procession of vehicles designed for off-road use, and a trailer full of people. The majority of the drivers and passengers were wearing green tweed hunting jackets and flat caps. It was clearly open season for pheasant shooting.
Soon we were passing through Netherton, part of the Faccombe estate, and admiring its topiary hedges. Then on to Linkenholt, where we stopped off at the church for a short break and to have a look around.
Leaving the lanes, we struck out into countryside. Descending Hart Down Hill, we followed a track through fields and woodland, and found ourselves on the Test Way. This 44 mile long-distance path follows the River Test from Walbury Hill in West Berkshire to Eling, near Southampton, in Hampshire.
We followed it for a couple of miles to Gallows Down and Combe Gibbet. Here we stopped for our picnic lunch, with views to the north, including Inkpen, Kintbury and Hungerford. After lunch we passed the wooden gibbet, which has only been used once since it was erected in 1676, but remained there afterwards as a deterrent to criminals. The path now became the Wayfarer's Walk, another long-distance path, which covers 71 miles from Walbury Hill to Emsworth on the south coast.
We followed it for a couple of miles before joining the Brenda Parker Way, yet another long-distance path. This one stretches 78 miles across Hampshire, from Andover to Aldershot. Needless to say, we followed it for a couple of miles. I think there's a pattern emerging here. Anyway, it took us back to Faccombe, where we stopped at the Jack Russell pub for post-walk refreshments. See our route on Google Maps.
I'm often telling people that our walking group is a friendly one, and they certainly proved it today. Half-way round the walk, I developed an aching hip, which became quite painful towards the end of the walk. It slowed me right down. However, there was no shortage of help and advice from my fellow walkers. One person lent me her walking pole; I was also given some ibuprofen, and a drink was waiting for me when I finally reached the pub. What a nice bunch of people to go walking with!
Thank you to Ian for leading this walk and providing the photo of the lychgate.