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Ecchinswell - Nuthanger Farm and Watership Down - Ecchinswell Walk

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Formed in 1972, the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty is the largest in south-east England and the third largest AONB nationally. Watership Down and Ladle Hill, two of the waymarks on this route, are part of the AONB's stunning landscape of chalk escarpment. Chalk in fact covers a great deal of Hampshire, stretching in two large bands that enter on the east and cross to Berkshire and Wiltshire. 

'This is pure downland, the breasted hills curved as if under the influence of a great melody. It is beautiful, a quiet, and unrenowned and a most visibly ancient landscape'.

Watership Down was of course the inspiration for Richard Adams' book and for the subsequent animated film. The route heads up onto the down from the north, as indeed did the rabbits in the story! For those of you interested in the precise locations mentioned - all based on real places - look up http://www.mayfieldiow.freewire.co.uk/watershp/watermain.htm

On Ladle Hill is a unique example of an 'unfinished' hill-fort on the site of an earlier Bronze Age settlement. It apparently shows features which would not be seen in a completed work e.g. marking-out trenches, partly dug sections of ditch and untidy spoil heaps. The patterns of lumps and bumps at the site make much more sense from aerial photographs. However, it is not open to the public.

Much of the walk takes place in or around Sydmonton Court Estate. By the late 11th Century, Sydmonton formed part of the estates of Romsey Abbey. In the Domesday Survey of 1086, it had land for eleven ploughs and had a recorded population of 29 people. After the dissolution of the abbey in the 16th Century, the manor of Sydmonton was granted to William Kingsmill and remained in the Kingsmill family until the later 20th Century. Andrew Lloyd Webber, now Baron Lloyd-Webber of Sydmonton, apparently paid £150,000 in 1978 for the mansion and the 4,000-acre estate. The house is the home of the composer's Picasso and pre-Raphaelite art collection.

The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Junction Railway was incorporated in 1873 to build a railway from Didcot on the GWR to Micheldever on the LSWR. Construction of the line was started in 1879 and Burghclere Station was opened in 1885. The DN & S, always an unprofitable enterprise, was absorbed by the GWR in 1923, but came into its own during the Second World War when it became a vital link in supplying the forces invading Normandy. Much of the original single track was doubled by the US Army Railway Corps and the line was actually closed to passengers from August 1942 to March 1943 to enable it to carry the extra freight and military trains. However, after 1945 the line returned to its lightly-used state. Post-Beeching, the line was closed in 1965 and much of it now lies under the A34 dual carriageway. Fortunately, some is still available to walkers!

Try the Ecchinswell - Nuthanger Farm and Watership Down - Ecchinswell walk out on the FREE WalkExplorer app for iPhone. This walk will be on the Android app soon.

Other nearby Walks

Begbroke - Bladon
Oddington - Noke - Ot Moor
Oxford Parks and Spires
Oxford, Godstow and Port Meadow
Sparsholt - The Ridgeway - Uffington Castle - Sparsholt
Pangbourne - Greenmoor Hill - Mapledurham - Pangbourne
Ecchinswell - Nuthanger Farm and Watership Down - Ecchinswell
Cheriton and the Civil War Battlefields
The Marden Villages
Thorney Island - a remote coastal walk
Burford - Widford
Bampton - Rushey Lock - Bampton
Bishopstone - Ashbury - Ashdown Park - Ridgeway
Dorchester - Long Wittenham - Wittenham Clumps Circular
Shillingford Bridge Hotel - Brightwell-cum-Sotwell
St Birinus Part 3 Long Version: Wallingford - Brightwell
East Ilsley - The Ridgeway - Compton - Circular
Chaddleworth (West Berks) - Four Churches and Three Pubs - Circular
Nuffield - The Ridgeway - Icknield Way - Nuffield
Thurle Down (Streatley) - Aldworth - Thurle Down
Ramsbury, Chilton Foliat and the Kennet Valley
Stonor Park - Southend - Turville Heath - Stonor Park
Hungerford - Kennet and Avon Canal - Bagshot - Hungerford
Fawley
Kintbury - Hamstead Marshall - Kennet & Avon Canal Circular
Around Bradfield and Stanford Dingley
Newbury - Speen Moor - Marsh Benham - Enborne
Caversham Park Village - Chalkhouse Green
Upper Woolhampton - Kiff Green - Beenham - Upper Woolhampton
Lower Earley - Dinton Pastures - Lavell's Lake LNR
Bramshill Plantation - Blackwater Path - Eversley -
Mapledurwell - Circular
Winchfield and the Basingstoke Canal - Circular
Totford, in the Candover Valley - Circular
Alton - Chawton - Alton
The Itchen Valley - Circular
Farringdon - St Swithun's Way - Dogford Wood - Farringdon
Selborne - Chawton - Selborne
Hawkley - Wheatham Hill - Oakshott - Hawkley
Nomansland - Bohemia - Lover - Langley Wood - Hamptworth
Upham - Street End
East Meon
Buriton - War Down - Buriton
Beaulieu Road in the New Forest - Circular
Horndean - Blendworth - Finchdean - Chalton
Farlington Marshes

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