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A walk in the North Hampshire Downs: 4 June 2022

Our intrepid group of five set off from Station Road, Oakley and joined the 70-mile long, well-trodden Wayfarers’ Walk passing en route a charming, picturesque mid-Victorian gate lodge at the entrance to the long driveway to Malshanger Park and house.

Heading towards the North Downs we then passed the kennels of the Vine and Craven Hunt to reach our lunch stop at Hannington where we ate well at the local pub, the Vine.

After lunch we started the return half of our walk passing by the beautiful, timeless village green, with its pyramidal-roofed well head built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It is surrounded by a lovely collection of brick and timber cottages, some grade 2 listed, and All Saints' Church, parts of which date from the 11th century.

We walked through open fields, with views north to Aldermaston and the Thames Valley and the hazy, distant horizons of Berkshire. Skirting Gaston Wood, we dipped down to the tiny, remote hamlet of Ibworth, thence to Malshanger Park. Here, the house (c. 1806) dominates the estate. It was owned by Baron Portal, of banknote fame in nearby Laverstoke, and chairman of the then London and South-West Railway that runs nearby.

We followed the public right of way through open parkland, though the house’s elaborate gardens have largely disappeared. The original Tudor-period house was built by Archbishop Warham, born in nearby Oakley, who became Lord Chancellor and the last Archbishop of Canterbury before the Reformation.

Our 9 mile circular walk, enjoyed by all, finished where it started at Station Road Oakley.

 

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