Fleet to Winchfield -
The map above shows the whole of the route section described below. It is interactive, and can be navigated by clicking on the direction arrows. The scale can be varied by clicking on the map or on the plus/minus buttons. The route was drawn on the normal OS Landranger mapping, so use of smaller scales may be slightly misleading at the detail level.
Both Fleet and Winchfield have railway stations, with a frequent train service between them. There are also regular week day buses to Hartley Wintney. Always check the latest times at www.travelinesw.com. Parking is limited at both ends, particularly at the railway stations, although there is a public car park on the north east side of Fleet Pond.
Part of this second section of the Brenda Parker Way, between Fleet and the Blackbushes Road, crosses land used by the Army at Aldershot but which has public access along many tracks and paths open to walkers but where there are few official public rights of way shown on the map. Defence Estates (Ministry of Defence, MOD) have given permission for the Brenda Parker Way to pass through this land on the basis that users understand that military training takes precedence over public access and that you may be asked by the military to make a deviation from the route. Walkers should read the note below and take a moment to read one of the official notices sited at the entrances to the military land. Users of the route should stay on the paths as they cross the training area.
A consequence of the long-
After Fleet Pond the route follows tracks across heath and woodland before a section along a road where extra care is needed. Then the route enters farmland and crosses the River Hart before reaching the ancient oaks at Hartley Wintney. Explorer maps 145 and 144 are required.
From the entrance to Fleet railway station and the bus stop outside on the south side of the railway, turn left and cross the car park towards the office block. Follow the south side of the car park and look for the brick wall of the bridge covering the pond which may be hidden behind parked cars. At the end of the wall take the narrow steps down to the edge of Fleet Pond and turn left along the path roughly parallel to the railway. Take the blue, yellow and red marked path beside the railway as it leaves the pond, continue past a concrete surfaced car park, and along its access track and cross over Bramshot Bridge.
Turn right along the verge of the A3013 Fleet Road and cross opposite the footpath and follow this beside a wooden fence to re-
Turn left along the bridleway. Leave the MoD Managed Access land at the B3013 road at its junction with Blackbushes Road. Carefully cross the road and follow the verge beside Blackbushes Road as far as the first minor road turning on the left sign-
Turn right at the road and left across the front of the pond by a seat and then continue onto Hartley Wintney Common by a path through the oak trees. Cross the minor road and keep to the path with the ditch on the left, or walk along the road. The Cricketers Inn is on the right and the Cricket Pavilion on the left, and the route briefly follows the Three Castles Path.
At the T junction with the next minor road go straight across the Common following the main path, with the ditch now to the right. Keep to the left fork of the path to join a tarmac path leading to the pedestrian crossing opposite St John's Church. Cross over the A323 Fleet Road and turn right then left into Green Lane, which lies along the route taken by King John from Odiham Castle to Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta. Keep going along Green Lane and just past Oldfield View fork left away from the metalled road onto the track in front, then cross Church View and along Mitchell Avenue to Dilly Lane. Go straight over to resume on the old road, here now called King John’s Ride, along a wide track.
There is new development to the left; after the track has curved right almost within sight of the B3016, take a footpath on the left going east between trees and a wooden fence. Continue to the top and descend to the road at North Cottage, Taplin’s Farm. Turn right along the road as far as the house on the next corner to a footpath on the right that meets the Three Castles Path again. Follow the path and then left along a track that leads past a barn and antenna mast to cross back over the M3 down to two gates beside each other at the end of a concrete drive. Pass beside the left gate along a grassy track and over a stream, keep straight on with the trees on the right to reach a gap on to the road at a corner with the railway above.
Leave the Three Castles Path and turn right and go carefully along the road to The Winchfield Inn on the right, then continue to cross to the railway station with its tiled mural inside or to reach the bus stop continue up to the B3016 road. Winchfield is a scattered rural community centred around Winchfield railway station.
Places of interest
This name is derived from the Norman French for a stream or shallow water. From a parish of less than 300 scattered people, Fleet developed after the construction of the railway which arrived in 1838, but a station wasn’t proposed for this sparsely populated area until 1847. Called Fleetpond and located on the west side of the Fleet Road bridge the station was built to allow Londoners to skate on the pond in winter and enjoy the country air rather than serve the small local population. Gradually these visitors and retired army officers built homes and settled in the area. When the railway was doubled from two to four lines in 1897 the site of the original station became the down line from London and a new station was built on the east side of the bridge in 1904. The railway sidings were closed in 1969 and become the car park, the current station building dates from 1966. On the walk, look out for the top of the arches of the viaduct carrying the railway over part of Fleet Pond. This part of the line across the north side of the pond was built on a base of hazel rods and willow. As a consequence of the building of the railway, the oldest houses in Fleet date from the Victorian period, but with rapid development between the world wars of the 20th century and later, such as Elvetham Heath completed in 2008, it is now a commuter town for London but with some new industries in its business parks giving local employment. Much of this is taken from the Fleet Steam website, see under Fleet Station History for a complete version. Back.
This is Hampshire's largest freshwater lake and was already a fishery for the Dean and Chapter of Winchester in 1324, but its origins are unknown. Later it also became a source of wild fowl. Fleet Pond was split by the construction of the railway in 1838 and then in 1854 it and surrounding land was bought by the government for military training. The railway brought people to Fleet Pond for recreation, both on the ice in winter and for the fresh air and pleasant walks at other times. During the Second World War the pond was drained to prevent it being used to assist enemy bombing. In 1972 the pond was bought by the local council and today it is a nature reserve, supported by the Fleet Pond Society and is served by information boards and marked paths around it. The management of Fleet Pond is carried out by Hart District Council and is supported with volunteer support through the Fleet Pond Society. An information leaflet is available, click here. Ongoing conservation work is aimed at encouraging reed growth and reclaiming areas of willow encroachment. Some of the shore area is grazed in the summer. For more information on the pond and the Society click here.
The intial part of the route from Fleet to Winchfield is part of the army’s Aldershot and Minley Training Area of which the majority is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms part of the European designated Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA). Open access is permitted within the managed areas subject to the terms and conditions of the Aldershot and District Military Byelaws (displayed on the notices at the main access points). The training exercises here do not involved the use of ammunition but may include the use of pyrotechnics, blank ammunition and other battle simulators such as smoke grenades and thunder flashes, so be prepared for sudden noises. Stay well clear of all military activity and do not touch any military debris as it may be harmful. The limits of the training area are shown by open red diamonds on the OS Explorer map (sheet 145) and labelled ‘Managed Access’. Back.
The Brenda Parker Way crosses the River Hart near Elvetham Farm east of Hartley Wintney. The river rises near Crookham Village and flows north to join the River Whitewater near Hazeley. The river gives its name to Hart District. Back.
Currently a hotel, the present hall was built in 1861 by Frederick the 4th Duke of Calthorpe. However, the site can be traced back to Saxon times and Elvetham is mentioned in the Domesday Book when it was held by Hugh de Port. After 1426 it passed to the Seymour family who were prominent during Tudor times. Jane Seymour was Henry VIII’s third wife and they may have met on his visit here in 1535. Her brother Edward was Lord Protector to Edward VI but was executed in 1552 while his brother Thomas married Henry VIII’s widow Catherine Parr. In the early Elizabethan period the family fell from favour but this was regained when the queen visited Elvetham in 1591 for a lavish four day entertainment. The main house had fallen into disrepair and burnt down in 1840. For more details click here, from which some of this information is taken. Back.
Its name derives from ‘hart wood’ for the hunting of deer and the former nunnery of Wintney Priory, itself derived from Winta’s Island. Although originating from Saxon times, it was on the route between Odiham Castle and Runnymede taken by King John on his way to sign the Magna Carta. Its twin parish of Elvetham was one of the first to be enclosed in 1403, forcing the local people to move off the land. The local Seymour family kept the area busy with their royal connections during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Modern Hartley Wintney moved down the hill, leaving old St Mary’s Church behind, and developed along the turnpike road that arrived in 1767, now replaced by the busy A30. Cricketers Green is in the centre of the village behind and parallel to the A30 and has been used for the game since 1770. The best known feature of the village is the ancient oaks that were planted on common land by Lady St John Mildmay in 1807 in response to calls for trees to be grown to provide timber for naval ships. These were much complimented by William Cobbett in 1821 during his ‘Rural Rides’.
A diversion is possible to see St Mary's Church and its graveyard. The church may be open on Sundays in the summer, but check with the parish council first on this link. Turn left at Church View, almost immediately take a footpath running to the left of a hedge which leads along the side of a field to the church. The church is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust and has not been used regularly since St John's Church was built in 1870. It is the oldest building in the village having Norman origins, although it is believed that a Saxon Church previously stood here. The church contains some remarkable medieval wall paintings discovered fairly recently. Buried in the graveyard are the remains of two important soldiers. General "Hangman" Hawley was famous in the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the battle of Culloden. More recently Field Marshall Viscount Alanbrooke is buried in a fairly simple grave.
Much of this is taken from ‘The Old Village of Hartley Wintney’ by David Gorsky which provides useful further reading including some local walks. Back.
This is another long distance path created by members of the Ramblers. This covers nearly 60 miles and runs from Windsor Castle, past King John’s Castle near Odiham and finishes at the Great Hall at Winchester. For an overview click here.
Winchfield is mentioned in the Domesday Book and has a largely unaltered Norman church. The railway arrived here in 1838 when it was called Shapley Heath and was for a while the western terminus. The station later became known as Winchfield Station and the station building dates from this time. Inside is an interesting mural made by Winchfield Pottery in 1988 which depicts ‘the fascination and colour of the early days of travel by rail’. Although the building is closed from noon, much can still be seen through the window. Back.