Sidley Bottom to Rag Copse -
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.
Like the previous section, this one can be walked by using bus stops along the Andover to Newbury service. At St Mary Bourne there is a Cango bus service to Andover. Always check the current public transport times at www.travelinesw.com . There is no suitable car parking at the start or finish of this section, but there is at the half way point at St Mary Bourne. If you are driving, an alternative end to this section is at Tangley Village Hall car park at Wildhern at GR 351 510, a mile into the next section. This section of the Brenda Parker Way crosses chalk downland through woodland and farmland with the picturesque village of St Mary Bourne, which has a car park, village shop and a pub, at about the midway point. The Explorer Map 131 is needed for this section.
Sidley Bottom to St Mary Bourne
Those using public transport should refer to the Transport page for suggestions on how to reach Sidley Bottom from Crux Easton as the bus stops at Sidley Bottom are no longer served. The car park marked on the map at Sidley Bottom offers virtually no parking, but from here follow the main road north east a short way to a fingerpost for a bridleway diverging to the right from the road.
Take this narrow track up through the trees until it turns right to meet a footpath. Ignore this and continue straight on to meet a track from the left at the end of the wood. Turn right past the remote Lye Farm along the now metalled track, edged with bulbs in springtime. Continue and pass under the pylon cables and left at the corner and straight on to the road junction.
Keep straight on and descend into Binley, past Binley Farm with the blue paintwork, to the triangle road junction with the house in the middle. Here keep straight on following the signpost to St Mary Bourne but at the bottom of the valley take the left fork up the hill and then right before the last house along a footpath called Long Hedge Drove. Keep going along the side of the ridge with views to the west and when the track ends at a field turn right then left along the field edge in the same direction as before with the hedge on your right. Soon the track is enclosed again between hedges, follow this down to the edge of Rowe Farm and take the footpath to the right of the farm buildings to come out on the road, here turn left.
Through St Mary Bourne
With sufficient seasonal rainfall, the road is beside a clear chalk stream; after the bridge you meet a road outside the school. Cross the road and turn left and then right into School Lane. Go to the gate at the end of the lane to meet the Test Way. Go through the first of several distinctive gates, each with a poem written by a pupil from the school on the gate post. Cross diagonally to the left to reach the second gate, and after two more meet the road from Andover.
Take the gate on your right across the road and after one more gate turn left along the side of the recreation ground where there is car parking and the separate building on the right is The Village Shop. St Mary Bourne is the largest village since Kingsclere and is about the half way point of this section, so a break may be needed. Following the access road takes you past public toilets to the bridge across the stream you followed earlier and The George Inn PH is in front of you. St Peter’s Church is further down the road to the right.
From the left hand side of the shop near the parking at the recreation ground, go through the gate onto the recreation ground. Follow the row of trees beside the fence and lake to another gate in the corner. After passing through here take the path up the hill to another gate and keep going up through a band of trees into a new woodland. Keep straight on round a tree to follow a field edge along the course of the Portway Roman Road that runs from Silchester to Old Sarum. Meeting the track turn right, follow this through the farm to the road and go straight across and continue along the road, past a road junction and on to where the Test Way crosses the road.
St Mary Bourne to Rag Copse on A343
Turn right and follow the Test Way to Stoke Hill, turn right then left towards Stokehill Farm, pass the entrance to the house and then fork left off the Test Way and follow this new right of way south westwards towards the woodland. Reaching the woodland turn right, keeping near the edge of the woods, to the metalled drive at Frenche’s Farm Lodge.
Cross the road and up the other side and go along the wood edge crossing a track where the wood extends a little to your right and down into a slight dip. Continue up along a line of beech trees to a stile, cross this and follow the field edge with Bourne Park on your right to another stile. Cross the stile into the wood and keep going parallel to the field boundary to reach a junction with a track and the A343, along which runs the Andover to Newbury bus service.
The bus stop is to the right at the entrance to Bourne Park. If you are driving, an alternative finish is at Tangley Village Hall car park at Wildhern at GR 351 510, about a mile into the next section.
Places of Interest
Perhaps meaning ‘bean clearing’ and with William Cobbett’s comments on the ‘poor, half-
Starting at Inkpen Beacon, the Test Way runs for 44 miles to the coast at Eling, near Totton, passing along a part of the river famous for its trout fishing. The Brenda Parker Way follows it in a couple of places at St Mary Bourne.
The pretty village of St Mary Bourne provides the most facilities since Kingsclere: there is a pub, a shop, public toilets, car parking and scheduled bus services. The church in the village is dedicated to St Peter rather than St Mary and has a large 12th century font carved from black Tournai marble. In the summer months the Bourne Rivulet may be dry; by its nature, it is usually winter borne. When flowing, it is a fast clear chalk stream, feeding a large commercial watercress bed just downstream from the village. For more information see the parish website from which some of this information is taken.
The Portway is the Roman Road constructed shortly after the Roman invasion of AD43 and linked London to the south west via Silchester also on the Brenda Parker Way. Continuing west it reaches Old Sarum and then goes on to Dorchester. Their purpose was primarily military, but they later became important trade routes. The Portway crosses the Roman Road from Cirencester and Winchester just east of Andover.