The Test Way
A 44 mile long-distance walking route takes you from its dramatic start, high on the chalk downs at Inkpen, to follow much of the course of the River Test to Eling where its tidal waters flow into Southampton Water. This is without doubt Hampshire's longest and finest chalk stream, world famous for its superb trout fishing
The way has been divided into 8 sections, each providing a really good day-out. Choose between water meadows or tidal marshes, riverbank picnics or cosy pubs, steep hills with exhilarating views or cool peaceful woodland.
The route passes through some of the most picturesque villages in Hampshire, strewn with listed buildings, historic churches and houses. It is well sign posted and waymarked. Horse-riders and cyclists can also use some parts.
Ordnance Survey Explorer maps at 1:25,0000 scale
- 158 (Newbury & Hungerford)
- 131 (Romsey, Andover & Test Valley)
- OL22 (New Forest)
The Solent provides a harbour for traders going inland, through settlements of great age, in farm land whose produce was traded through markets, where merchants brought goods from afar.
Romsey Abbey is said to have been founded by Edward the Elder in 907 AD and it survived the dissolution as became the parish church. At Mottisfont, there was an abbey, first documented in 1086 AD. Stockbridge is first referred to in 1141, developing as a market town in the thirteenth century.
In Harewood Forest King Edgar is said to have killed Earl Athelwold of Wherwell, who had counselled him against marrying Elfrida, whom he then married. When Edgar saw her beauty he killed the earl and married her. Later she had his son, Edward, murdered to secure the throne for her son, Ethelred, and in remorse founded the nunnery at Wherwell. The Test Way turns north towards Linkenholt which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. From Linkenholt the Test Way climbs the downs to Coombe Gibbet where spectacular views of the Berkshire Downs will have encouraged travellers deeper into England.
As the Test Way turns sharply north-west it follows a section of the Roman road from Winchester to Cirencester. East of Andover it crosses the line of the Harrowway, a prehistoric trackway and medieval pilgrims route.
The Test Way overlooks Broadlands, the home of Lord Palmerston North of Kimbridge the Test Way crosses the line of the Southampton to Salisbury canal, which was built in the 1790's, and was replaced in time by a railway. Turning east the Way runs parallel to the Roman road between Silchester and Old Sarum.
At Testwood a fragment of a Bronze Age boat was found. Hurstbourne Tarrant was a manor owned by Tarrant Abbey.
At Wherwell an important nunnery was founded in 986 AD and demolished after the dissolution in 1539. Wherwell is linked to Harewood Forest by legend. North of Horsebridge is a disused canal lock from the Southampton to Andover canal. In 1857 the Andover Canal Railway Company utilised much of the route for a railway, which in turn closed in the 1960's and is followed in part by the Test Way. St Mary Bourne is mentioned in the Domesday book and taking its name from the church and the stream.
Test Way leaflet 303kb pdf