Thursday, 1 October 2009

Watership Down, Ecchinswell and Hannington

This walk of about 15 miles covered the eastern-most portion of the chalk ridge south of Newbury centred on Cottington Hill. Here is the route of this walk:

View Hannington - Kingsclere - Watership Down in a larger map

Inkpen Ridge

Walks following the ridge through north Hampshire, Wiltshire and West Berkshire.

Oakley - Hannington
Hannington - Watership Down
Watership Down - Highclere
Highclere - East Woodhay
East Woodhay - Inkpen
Inkpen - Marten
Marten - Collingbourne Kingston
Collingbourne Kingston - Easton Royal
Easton Royal - Pewsey

I first headed east to the quiet, picturesque village of Hannington, it has a fine church fairly typical of villages in this area.

hannington church

On Wayfarer's Way I came across a fairly rare sight, a flock of geese out in open fields. True to their nature they became unhappy when I came close to them so I beat a hasty retreat


Cutting back to the brow of the ridge the views to the north west was splendid. The cool breeze gave good visibility, probably about forty miles.


Walking through the small town of Kingsclere I struggled to find the path. Eventually I found the lane I needed called “Frog's Hole” an apt name as it is a hollow path with a small stream running alongside the path.
Further along the path came into richer agricultural land with livestock. Ducks however, are more of a rarity.


The path became easier to follow as it reached Ecchinswell (not even sure how you pronounce that). All the villages are on the ‘spring line’ where water seeps out of the chalk downs.

Here was my biggest hazard, a path cutting across a field with a herd of bullocks. Initially standing still, they started showing interest in me as I was midway across the field. Starting to trot over in my direction. I made the fence just in time, but I am sure they posed no threat.


Not far away was Ecchinswell Church, apparently a Victorian creation, but still looks the part.

Ecchinswell Church

I followed a very ancient bridleway that gently sloped upwards to the top of the downs and some good views to Watership Down.

Watership Down

Ladle Hill is not accessible to the public but the sheep have open access. This is the closest I got to seeing rabbits on Watership Down!


The views north from the top proved worth the climb. Here Sydmonton Court (the country home of popular composer Andrew Lloyd Webber) stands out well in the warm afternoon sunshine. Behind the house are the tied houses for the estate workers.

Sydmonton View

Along the ridge is one splendid old beech tree. Considering it is high on the ridge it is doing remarkably well.

Beech tree

Further along to the east the views are more obstructed, but the lane cutting through the down gave a good photograph.

Watership down

With fewer long distance views, my eyes and lens turned to subjects closer to view. Here's two dandelion seed heads and a hogweed flower

Giant Hogweed

A final treat as I walked along Wayfarer's Way back to Cottington Hill, with poor distant visibility and a boring track, was a flock of small birds.


At first I thought they were buntings, then wondered if they were skylarks but I think young meadow pipits are the best guess, bird watchers may be able to help! That's the end of this ramble in north Hampshire, hope you enjoyed the trip!.