This charming stretch of walk takes you along the floodplain of the River Avon and up the side of the valley, passing a series of picturesque villages on the way.
3 hours 4 minutes
Map of the leg
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
This leg starts off from the long-stay car park in the centre of Fordingbridge. Leave the car park and pass the public toilets on the left. Turn left to head northeastwards along Round Hill. After a few yards turn left down Salisbury Street. This heads northeastwards; immediately after the post office on the left, turn left down Green Lane. Head northwestwards along this road, and then turn right down Whitsbury Road.
Head slightly west of north, and then at SU146148 turn right down Pennys Lane. This heads northwards; pass Burnham Road on the left, and just before it curves to the right continue straight on along a footpath that heads northwards. Initially there are gardens on either side, and later on there is a school on the right. The path emerges out into fields; continue straight on until a track is reached at SU147155. Turn right at the track to head eastwards for a third of a mile until the A338 is reached.
Turn right at the main road to head south for a short distance, passing a pub on the right. Carefully cross the road and then head down a track that heads eastwards to Burgate Manor Farm. Pass between the farm buildings; immediately after the last one on the left, and before the end of the barn on the right, turn left along a footpath that leads down to a suspension bridge over the River Avon.
Cross the bridge, and on the other side head straight on along a footpath nirtheastwards for a short distance across the floodplain, following a heavilly-eroded bank. When a hedge is reached turn half-right, following a fence on the left to reach the first of three footbridges over streams. Cross these and start heading east-northeastwards along a track. After half a mile Folds Farm is reached.
Pass through Folds Farm and then cross a stream. The track soon curves sharply to the right; a few yards later turn left along another track that continues for a few yards to end at a tarmac road. Turn left, and follow this road as it heads north-northeastwards uphill, summitting Castle Hill. Nearly a mile after Folds Farm, a road junction is reached at SU171169. Turn left to head northwards down this road for a hundred yards, and then take the first road to the right, Brocks Lane.
Follow Brocks Lane north-northeastwards as it climbs uphill. An area of common land appears on the right at the top of the hill, and the road then ends at another road. Turn left down this for a few yards, and then turn right to head northeastwards along Lower Densome Wood. At a junction turn left and follow this as it swings to the left to meet another road. Turn left along this road and follow it northwestwards as it heads downhill.
The track curves to the right to head northwards; at another right-hand bend continue straight on, crossing a stile to enter a field. Continue in a rough northerly direction with trees on the left, passing under power lines. The path heads to the left of a house on the right, then descends a slight slope to end at a road. Turn right along this road for a few yards, and then immediately turn left up Moot Lane. Follow this north-northeastwards for a fifth of a mile. At SU177186 turn right up a track that heads uphill to the east, passing Hale Church on the right. Continue along the good path as it swings to the right.
Just before it reaches Hale House on the right, turn left along a footpath that heads eastwards with a fence on the left. This heads east-northeastwards with a track parallel to the right, before ending at Hale Lane. Turn left to follow Hale Lane northwards for a few yards to a sharp right-hand bend near Home Farm; continue on along the lane as it heads east-northeastwards After half a mile at SU191191, turn left along a track just after a cattle grid. The track head northeastwards, passing a house and barns before entering a field.
Head downhill across the field, aiming for a small gap in the hedge at the bottom. Go through this and continue northwards through a patch of woodland, descending down to a stream. The path emerges from the trees, and continues uphill to the north with the woodland on the left. When the woodland ends, continue on as the path swings to the left to reach a track at SU190197.
Turn left along the track for a few yards, and then turn right to join another footpath that heads north with an area of woodland on the right. Cross a stile and continue on, soon joining an area of woodland on the left. This becomes a hedge as it heads north to meet a track west of Woodfalls Farm. Cross the track and continue on northwards with a hedge on the right. At SU189205, just before the end of the field, turn left to cut across the field, aiming for a wooden pylon at the northern edge of the field. From here skirt the edge of the field northwestwards downhill. The path crosses a stream at the bottom before climbing slightly. At the western end of the field it crosses an old railway trackbed to join a track that soon ends at Moot Lane in Downton.
Turn right and follow Moot Lane northwards for a couple of hundred yards until it ends at a T-junction with High Street, where this leg ends.
Places of interest
Fordingbridge is a small former market town situated on the River Avon. As the name suggests, it was built around a ford across the river. The eponymous bridge, Great Bridge, was constructed in the 13th Century, and is a focal point of the town. It is a particularly graceful Medieval bridge.
There are many shops of various sizes in the town, along with accommodation and other facilities.
location UID #97
Hale House is a large mansion near Fordingbridge, rebuilt by Sir Thomas Archer in Palladian style in the early 1700s. Its frontage is pleasant, with portico and Corinthian columns. Two detached service wings flank the main building.
Nestled in woodland nearby is Hale Church, rebuilt in an unusual style by Archer in 1717. It is likely that a church was situated nearby at the time of the Conquest.
location UID #104
Downton is a large village situated halfway between Salisbury and Fordingbridge. It nestles on the eastern bank of the River Avon, whilst the smaller village of Wick is situated on the western bank.
The River Avon through Downton splits into a series of tributaries that are all crossed by the road between Downton and Wick.
Downton is home to The Moot, formal gardens based on the grounds of a 12-th Century earthwork castle.
location UID #202
Twice-hourly X3 bus services run between Downton and Fordingbridge during the week, with an hourly service on Sundays.