Walking the Clarendon Way

Salisbury Cathedral - the start of the Clarendon Way
The Plan
Walking the Clarendon Way from end-to-end was Tom's suggestion, I've ridden and walked chunks of it but never the whole thing - until he mentioned it I wasn't really sure exactly how long the route was.

"27 odd miles - we could do that easily in 1.5 days.  Start in Salisbury after lunch and then wild camp somewhere along the route and finish in Winchester the next day around lunch time" - Simple!  So we got planning. 

Dates, times and logistics were sorted and kit lists complied (see below) and the first Thursday & Friday August was agreed on.

The "campsite" proved to be the trickiest bit as we needed to stop around mid-way (13-14 miles) and ideally wanted somewhere wooded to stay in without having to stray too far from the route.  After a lot of map searching and googling we decided on the wooded nature reserve just outside of Broughton, Hampshire. At around 12 miles in it was a little under halfway but looked suitable and there was no other sensible options until after Kings Somborne which was another 3-4 miles further along.  Fingers were crossed for some nice trees to hang the hammocks in!

"I'm pretty sure we're here"

The Route
Route and profile of the Clarendon Way walk
"The Clarendon Way is a recreational footpath in Hampshire and Wiltshire, England. It starts beside the waters of the River Itchen in the centre of Winchester and ends near the River Avon at Salisbury Cathedral. The path passes through the Clarendon Estate and close to the 12th century ruins of Clarendon Palace. The path also passes through Farley Mount Country Park and the villages of Pitton, The Winterslows, Broughton and King's Somborne.
The footpath is waymarked by metal and plastic disks attached to wooden and metal posts, trees and street furniture. This route is shown as a series of green diamonds on Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps and as a series of red diamonds on Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps." (Source, Wikipedia)

  • 27.5 miles from Salisbury to Winchester Cathedral's
  • 1934 ft elevation

You can view and download the route from my Ride With GPS page - here

Or, you can download the route from my DropBox in various formats, including the useful PDF by Hampshire County Council;
GPX Route file
TCX Route file
Hampshire CC PDF

Kit and preparation 
Kit check

As anyone who knows me or reads this blog will already be aware, I love a kit list!  For me, half the fun of any trip is the planning and preparation.  As this was to be Tom's first "proper" wild camping hike we settled on the below kit list (which worked out fairly well!);

Kit List
DD superlight hammock
Alpkit tarp & 8 x Ti pegs
Rucksack (Deuter 45+ Guide)
Walking boots or trail shoes shoes
Spare socks and u/wear
Water proof (OMM Smock)
Insulated jacket (Montane Prism)
Sleeping bag & liner bag
First Aid Kit (small/waterproof)
Trangia with gas burner
Gas bottle
Flint & lighter
Toiletries (contacts, hand sanitiser, toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes)
Spare base layer
Sigg bottles x 2ltrs
Food (to be bought en-route)
Map, compass & map case
Head torch & batteries
Trekking poles x 2 (for tarp)
Camera in case
Cash and card 

All packed and ready to go!
Normally I'd opt for the JetBoil if going solo but with two people the Trangia (27 class) is ideal and is still very lightweight (sub 750g inc kettle) and with the gas burner attachment is perfect for quick wild camping trips.

Everything was packed up into 45ltr bags, albeit with little room to spare.  My kit is generally pretty lightweight but when you add it all up it still weighs a fair bit - and 2-3ltrs adds a few unwelcome kilos!

Tom decided to borrow a pair of my Meindl walking boots as his other options (wellies or Salomon shoes) were probably not going to be ideal for 27 miles of walking - this decision proved to be the wrong one but we'll come on to that later.

Day 1 - Salisbury to Broughton
Romsey railway station
A point to point walk is always a bit of a pain as you have to factor in getting either to the start point or back from the finish - or both in this case!

We decided to drive to, and leave one car in, Winchester and then head to Romsey and leave Tom's car at my parents house in Romsey where we'd catch the train to Salisbury and walk the 500m or so to the Cathedral and the start of our walk.

Tickets to ride - off to Salisbury
After stocking up with some food at the Waitrose near to Romsey station we found ourselves sat on the station platform waiting for our delayed (by 40 minutes!) train but as the sun was trying to shine and the rain that had plagued us for the last 3 weeks seems to have finally stopped we were happy enough and after only 25 minutes on the train we'd be in Salisbury for the start of our walk.

All smiles - go, go, go!
So, just before 14:30 on the 3rd AUgust (2017) we were in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral and after the obligatory selfie and Garmin sync/start we headed off along the Clarendon Way which threads itself due West through the city on well waymarked paths for just over a mile before leaving the houses and roads behind and heading out into the country side.

Well waymarked route out of Salisbury
A slight detour was needed as the footbridge over the railway (just before Milford) was closed but the road bridge runs alongside it so, once we figured out where to go, it wasn't really much of a hardship.

Oh, that's awkward!
Almost immediately on leaving Salisbury you enter the broad, open, countryside of Clarendon Park (CP) which is dotted with trees and plantations and rolling hillsides - an area that I've never walked before or even really looked at on the map, so despite being less than half an hour from "home" this was entirely new to me.

Clarendon Palace
As was the sudden appearance, at just under 3 miles, of the ruins of Clarendon Palace - complete with a flock of "guard" Lamas!

Ruins of Clarendon Palace
Once a royal residence and hunting lodge it dates back, in present form anyway, to early 12th Century and even in its ruined state is quite an impressive place.  We had a wander around for 10 minutes or so before heading back to the path and along through the ancient woods and hazel copse that flank the path all the way to the village of Pitton at around 5 miles.

Guard Lama?!

Hazel copse and ancient woodlands

On reaching Pitton we spotted a village shop and nipped in to buy small bottles of water and some sustenance - in the form of a large Genoa cake!

Following the waymarks of the Clarendon Way
Which we ate while sat next to the path after a hot and steady uphill to the outskirts of West Winterslow.
The cake was very good but Tom's feet, not used to boots despite the Meindl's being the most comfortable and "non blister creating" boots I've worn, were hot and starting to tingle ominously.

Resting the feet - that hill was tough in the sun!
After a 10 min cake stop we carried on along the "way", passing a lovely church on the edge of West Winterslow before joining the Monarch's Way path and heading into Middle Winterslow (at around 8 miles) where we'd planned to top up water and any food before the last push to the camp stop outside of Broughton.

Middle Winterslow has to be the friendliest village I've ever been to/walked through - everyone we met was happy and chatty - pointing out that we'd walked almost a mile past the village shop and requiring Tom (thanks mate!) to walk back the way we'd come to get the bottles of water we needed - luckily there happened to be an ice cream van / chip van near the shop so not only did Tom return with our water but he also had two boxes of chips, which we ate sat in the large field on the northern edge of the village.
Now the eagle eyed of you reading this will notice that our route through the western edge of Middle Winterslow wasn't as direct as it should have been - this is due to us completely missing the path and following the track down to the road - adding half a mile or so to the route.  So after an unwelcome uphill we got back onto the path and followed the old Roman road of the Monarch's and Clarendon Way for 2 miles or so before reaching Buckholt Farm.

From Buckholt farm the track rises, for nearly a mile, up to the wooded area of Broughton Nature Reserve where we'd planned to stop overnight.  Tom was plodding at this point, the blister on his big toe being painful enough to take some of the enthusiasm out of his step.

The last path up into the woods nr Broughton - and our camp...
Reaching the reservoir head and trigg point (138m) on the edge of Smith's Plantation helped to pick up our spirits as all that was left between us an a cup of tea was finding a site for the night.

After a bit of wandering around we found a nice "site" away from paths, in an area of woods dotted with yew trees and we set about making camp.

Home sweet home, for the night anyway
It's surprising how efficient you become at pitching hammocks and the tarp and we spent less than 15 minutes getting everything set up before changing into dry, warm clothes and boiling the kettle!

Bit low isn't it?!

Tea's on...
Full of chips from our stop in Middle Winterslow we didn't really feel that hungry so after a couple of cups of tea and a pack of biscuits we turned in for the night, hoping that Tom's blister would be less angry in the morning!

Day 2 - Broughton to Winchester

Morning - what's for breakfast?
After a decent night's sleep I woke with a horrible sore throat and the continuation of an annoying cough that I'd had for the last couple of days - nothing that a cup of tea and some paracetamol wouldn'f fix though!

Breakfast was prepared and eaten and camp packed away - I always get a strange satisfaction from looking back at the area we've camped in and seeing no trace that we've been there.  That's the way it should be in my eyes, "leave only footprints and take only memories".

So at just after 7am on the 4th August we we're back on the path and waking down the hill into the sleepy village of Broughton.

I'm not really sure what these sculptures are for, but here they are!
We passed through Broughton, stopping to take a picture of the small graveyard and then headed out along the path towards Houghton.

Graveyard and folly(?) in Broughton
The path out of Broughton passes along the back of some amazing houses and a wonderful thatched wall - another one of those things that you would never see unless walking and being "out and about" in the countryside.

Thatched wall, nr Broughton, Hampshire
Just level with Hayter's Farm we came across another odd sculpture - it's difficult to see from the picture below but a map was carved into it showing the distances to certain towns along the paths - nice!

Direction stone and marker, nr Broughton, Hampshire
3 miles or so in to the day's walking we reached the village of Houghton and crossed a couple of arms of the River Test - a fast flowing chalk river famed for it's trout fishing.

Crossing the River Test nr Houghton, Hampshire
Just outside Houghton the Clarendon Way crosses the Test Way, a route that I know very well having ridden and run up and down it probably hundreds of times.  I also knew that the path went steadily uphill from here before dropping back down into the village of Kings Somborne where we'd planned to stop at the village shop and stock up on water and food for the day.

Kings Somborne village stores
Food and water bought (and maybe an ice cream, well it was hot!) we headed off again through countryside towards the large racing stables of Hoplands, just outside Farley Mount park.

Yep, still going the right way!
The route is well maintained around the Hoplands estate and fairly easy going, albeit undulating, and we made good time down to the road at Ashley Down where you turn 90 degrees and head up along the edge of the fields towards Farley Mount.  I'm not keen on this bit of path - on bike or on foot its narrow, chalky and slippery and not well maintained with gorse and brambles on one side and a barbed wire fence on the other making the climb up to Farley less than enjoyable - and it was hot!

Looking along the track and up to Farley Mount
Reaching Farley Mount we passed the track leading up to the monument itself and carried on through the fields with the road on our right, to an area called Crab Wood.

By this point Tom's feet were not doing well and he was in a world of pain and the walking speed was fluctuating depending on the terrain - his usual comedic outlook was subdued and aside from stopping every now and then there wasn't really anything that I could do to help other than try and stay positive and press on to Winchester - which we did!

From Crab Wood the route takes the first of its "odd" detours, rather than following the straight line (which is now a small road) the path swings left and uphill past the Scout campsite of Pinsent, bringing back memories of cooking competitions and scout camps, and then drops down into the outskirts of Winchester between Pitt and Olivers Battery.

On passing through Pitt the path again takes an annoying backwards turn, passing through Olivers Battery (which allowed Tom to rest for a few minutes and get some much needed food in the shop!) and then, with the spire of the cathedral in site, heading away from Winchester to join the path leading past the now abandoned Bushfield Camp and then over the railway line before heading into St Cross.

Crossing the railway line at St Cross
Once through St Cross the path takes a much more pleasant turn as it follows the river, past large houses and well kept gardens.

You pass alongside the grounds of the college before emerging in the city of Winchester itself requiring a short walk through the streets to the grounds of the Cathedral and the end of the Clarendon Way, and our walk.

The last few steps - in to Winchester Cathedral 

Winchester Cathedral

Smiling, ish! 27.5 miles and 2 days after leaving Salisbury
All in all the walk was good; the weather held out and the sun shone (but not too much), the route was waymarked fairly well although it's worth mentioning that when you get around 5 miles from Winchester the signage seems to disappear and its not until you get right back into the city (in sight of the cathedral) that the signs come back with any usefulness.

Tom's blisters were horrible and I can't really imagine the pain of walking on them for 16.5 miles - but he did and we made it - we'd walked the Clarendon Way from end-to-end which is what we'd set out to do.

So where next?.......

I recorded the walk on my Garmin Forerunner 935 - you can view, and download the route here;
Day 1 - Salisbury to Broughton

Day 2 - Broughton to Winchester


Popular posts from this blog

Wild camping on Cadair Idris

You can't win them all - short walk to Llyn Cau at the foot of Cadair Idris

Winter walk on Pen-y-Fan