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North Wessex & Watership Down

A quiet & blissful corner of England
 
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the North Wessex Downs is known for its excellent walking trails and extensive views. This self-guided walking holiday also offers you the chance to visit the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery, Watership Down and the ‘real’ Downton Abbey.
North Wessex & Watership Down. 6 nights
North Wessex & Watership Down. 6 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A walking holiday in the North Wessex Downs

Little more than 50 miles, as the crow flies, from Central London, lies the crescent-shaped Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty known as the North Wessex Downs. But the very last thing you will find here is big city life: this corner of North Hampshire possesses a deeply rural – almost dozy – charm, with its villages of thatched cottages, pockets of ancient woodland and all-but-forgotten Roman roads.
What you will  find here is chalk – this floury limestone not only shapes the tranquil downlands, home to wild orchids and myriad species of butterfly, but tempts the angler to its crystal-clear streams, rippling with watercress beds, that filter through the land. Three fine country inns, plus several landmarks on or close to your route – including the setting for Downton Abbey, the ‘real’ Watership Down and the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery – complete an alluring picture.
 
Gallery
 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

    You should always be prepared for wet weather, whichever month you are travelling.
     
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 8 8 11 13 17 20 22 22 19 15 11 8
    mm 67 50 48 54 49 46 49 50 43 71 66 69
  • Arrival in St Mary Bourne
    Night 1: at Bourne Valley Inn (the first of two nights here).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • Circular route from St Mary Bourne: 18.5km (11.5 miles), 5hrs; 220m ascent/descent
    Your first walk begins with a taxi transfer (included) to nearby Whitchurch, from where you follow our delightful circuit, partly alongside the River Test, the home of fly-fishing, to pass several mills: Laverstoke Mill is now the architecturally impressive home of the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery (we recommend a visit, but book ahead), while the mill on ‘Frog Island’ in Whitchurch is the oldest surviving silk mill in Britain (closed Mondays).

    Shorter option: 8.5km (5.5 miles), 2hrs
    This route can be shortened to if you wish, by following our loop from Whitchurch – including the distillery visit and/or the silk mill – then ordering a taxi back from Whitchurch to St Mary Bourne (pay locally).
    Circular route from St Mary Bourne: 18.5km
    The route from St Mary Bourne to Faccombe
  • St Mary Bourne to Faccombe: 14.5km (9 miles), 4.5hrs; 325m ascent/168m descent
    Moving on from St Mary Bourne today, you follow an undulating route – shared by the Test Way and the Brenda Parker Way – through typical downland scenery. It’s a little more up than down, given that you set off from a stream valley and your destination, Faccombe, is a hill-top village. Your next two nights are spent at the Jack Russell Inn.
    St Mary Bourne to Faccombe: 14.5km
    The route from St Mary Bourne to Faccombe
  • Circular route from Faccombe: 14km (8.5 miles), 4hrs; 250m ascent/descent
    Our varied circuit from Faccombe takes in valleys, woodland, and an ancient ridgeway. A highlight is the village of Ashmansworth, the highest in Hampshire, where there is an interesting, 12th-century church with fragments of medieval wall paintings.
    The hamlet of Ashmansworth on the route around Faccombe
  • Faccombe to Hollington Cross: 18.5km (11.5 miles), 5hrs; 320m ascent/400m descent
    After leaving Faccombe, a steady ascent brings you to the ridgeway and Inkpen Beacon, where there is a somewhat macabre ‘double gallows’, once used as an execution device. You continue via Walbury Hill, with its Iron Age hillfort and a view to savour, before eventually dropping down to Hollington Cross and the Pheasant, for your final two-night stay.
    Faccombe to Hollington Cross: 18.5km
    Approaching Combe Gibbet
  • Choice of walks from Hollington Cross: 15.5km or 18km (9.5 miles-11 miles)

    Circular route via Beacon Hill, starting by taxi: 18km (11 miles), 5hrs; 300m ascent/320m descent
    After your transfer to White Hill, you strike out along the ridgeway, passing The Warren, Watership Down and Nuthanger Down, through the landscape which inspired Richard Adams’ best-known novel. You can make a detour to Beacon Hill (a further 3.5km, 1hr 15mins round trip) for another hillfort and yet more panoramic views – you can glimpse Highclere Castle, known to many as the location of fictional Downton Abbey, among the trees – before continuing to reach Highclere Park. From here, it’s but a short hop back to the Pheasant for your final evening meal.

    Circular route via Wayfarer’s Walk, starting by taxi: 15.5km (9.5 miles), 4.5hrs; 290m ascent / 320m descent
    This second, more direct walk also begins at White Hill, and initially follows the same route as Option 1 (including passing above Watership Down and by Ladle Hill), but then continues on the Wayfarer’s Walk instead. After negotiating the A34 by a detour and underpass, you head up and along the ancient Ox Drove enjoying fine views, before dropping back down on a lane to return to your accommodation.

    Sightseeing & walking (by car)
    If you travelled by car, there are two additional suggestions for your final day:

    Milestones Living Museum, Basingstoke (good wet-weather option)
    This museum of living history (including cobbled streets, vintage vehicles, a 1940s sweet shop and penny arcade) recreates life in Hampshire’s past and lies just 20 miles (30 mins’ drive) away. See www.milestonesmuseum.org.uk for more information.

    The Kennet & Avon Canal
    For a complete change of scenery, you could drive 15km north to pretty Kintbury and stroll along the Kennet & Avon Canal, either east towards Newbury (16km) or west towards Hungerford (8km) before getting the train back. (Or you could simply enjoy a gentle there-and-back stroll.) The Dundas Arms, an 18th-century riverside gastropub, beautifully located on an island between the River Avon and the canal in Kintbury, has a large garden and makes a fine place for refreshments or lunch.        

     
    Looking towards Watership Down
    Circular route via Beacon Hill, starting by taxi: 18km
    Circular route via Wayfarer’s Walk, starting by taxi: 15.5km
 

Accommodation

You stay at three high-quality inns – or ‘dining pubs’ – of character, each placing an emphasis on good food.
 
Prices & travel options
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  • 6 nights: 01 April 2019 - 30 September 2019 & 01 April 2020 - 30 September 2020

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 30 Apr 2019 £530 £385
    1 - 26 May 2019 £545 £400
    27 - 31 May 2019 £595 £435
    1 Jun - 26 Aug 2019 £625 £475
    27 - 31 Aug 2019 £595 £435
    1 - 24 Sep 2019 £545 £400
    1 - 30 Apr 2020 £525 £390
    1 - 31 May 2020 £545 £400
    1 Jun - 31 Aug 2020 £580 £435
    1 - 24 Sep 2020 £545 £400
    3rd & 4th person discount -£40 to -£50
    Single traveller supplement £40 to £50

    Please note: dogs are not permitted on Inntravel holidays

    Important: there are no twin-bedded rooms at The Pheasant; for individual rooms add £72pppn 1 July - 31 August or £60pppn all other 2019 dates

    Included travel: transfer Hollington-St Mary Bourne to collect car

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Jack Russell Inn, Faccombe
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2019 £10
    'Family': 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2020 £7
    'Indulgent: 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2020 £14
    'Indulgent': 01 Apr - 30 Sep 2020 £14
  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Connecting travel options - out via Whitchurch, home via Newbury

    Outward route Price per person Latest train
    arrival time
    taxi Whitchurch station to hotel (0h15) £5 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest train
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Newbury station (0h20) £10 flexible
What is included
  • 6 nights
  • 4 picnics
    6 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • transfers on days 1 & 5
 
Reviews

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We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £30 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £50 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.
  • Even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it’s been confirmed that flights will continue as normal and that you won’t need a visa to go on holiday (the limit on stays is 90 days). What you will need if there’s no deal is a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your arrival (extra months added because you renewed your passport early do not count) and adequate travel insurance to cover you for accidents and illness in case reciprocal health deals are suspended. If you are driving while on holiday, you will probably need an International Driving Permit (plus a Green Card if you are taking your own car to Europe). More information >
  • The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
Last fetch time is : 11/12/2019 3:20:54 AM