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Hampshire Walk
Beacon Hill and Warnford from Exton

County/Area - Hampshire

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 6.0 miles / 9.8 km    Ascent - 600 feet / 182 metres

Time - 3 hours 40 minutes    Grade - easy/mod

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Beacon Hill and Warnford from Exton
Click image to visit gallery of 12 images.

The village of Exton lies in the attractive Meon Valley just off the A32 main road. The start is a small parking area (grid ref. SU617212) which is reached by turning off the A32 and taking the northernmost of the two lanes off the main road into the village. Immediately after turning off the A32 the small parking area is evident on your left. Note that in fine weather and busy periods that this may get full quite quickly.

After parking, walk into the village with the River Meon on your left. The lane bears sharp right. If you want to have some food or refreshments there is a pub down the lane to your left, but for the walk you need to continue along the lane passing the parish church which will be on your right. The road gradually bends left. After approximately 200 metres look out for a South Downs Way sign on the right (grid ref. SU611210). Follow this sign and enter open farmland. Ahead lies the first objective, namely Beacon Hill.

The onward route is clear. You cross an access track and begin to climb more steeply with an improving view behind you. Reaching a lane, turn right. It is worth looking left as you have an excellent panorama that includes the Solent and the Isle of Wight beyond. After a short way along the lane a signed path on the right (grid ref. SU601223) should be followed to the trig point on Beacon Hill. The view is particularly fine over the Meon Valley.

From the trig point take the clear track that heads north-west to a car park and road junction (gird ref. SU598227). Turn right here and walk through pleasant woodland. You are now on the Monarch's Way. Follow the well signed path as you descend gradually towards Warnford. In places the landowner has perhaps provided rather too much signage but this is better than none! Reaching a road, turn right into Warnford. As you reach the main road note the watercress ponds on your left.

At the A32 turn left, walk past the pub to reach a road junction (grid ref. SU624231). Turn right up this lane climbing a little in the process. After just over half a mile you reach a bridge over the old railway (grid ref. SU633228). Take the path on the left hand side of the road and descend to the old trackbed. Turn back on yourself and walk under the road. You now have a straightforward walk on a well graded path. This railway was called the Watercress Line and a section to the north of here is now preserved with steam trains in operation.

Crossing the lane to Peake farm (grid ref. SU628218) is about the half way point to where we will leave the old railway. This is good walking and you can keep a good pace along this section. At grid ref. SU624211 you leave the old railway and follow the signed South Downs Way back to the start. This last section does not encourage you to step out as there are some tree roots and other minor obstructions to negotiate. Reaching the main road, take care and cross to the parking area opposite.

Other walks nearby

Walk 2710 Old Winchester Hill from Extoneasy/mod5.5 miles
Walk 1034 Beacon and Old Winchester Hills on the South Downsmoderate10.5 miles
Walk 2533 East Meon to Old Winchester Hillmoderate12.0 miles
Walk 3324 Cheriton Mill & Tichborne from Cheriton easy5.7 miles
Walk 3260 Butser Hill Circulareasy/mod6.9 miles

Recommended Books & eBooks

The South Downs Way Map Booklet

The South Downs Way Map BookletMap of the 100 mile (160km) South Downs Way National Trail, between Eastbourne and Winchester. This booklet is included with the Cicerone guidebook to the trail and shows the full route on OS 1:25,000 maps. The trail typically takes a week to walk and is suitable for most levels of ability.
More information

The South Downs Way

The South Downs WayGuidebook to walking the South Downs Way National Trail, a 100 mile (160km) route between Winchester and Eastbourne through the South Downs National Park, described in both directions over 12 stages. Easy walking on ancient and historical tracks, taking in wooded areas, delightful river valleys and pretty villages. With 1:25K OS map booklet.
More information

The End to End Trail

The End to End Trail
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Further Information

Walk Location Map

Walk location map

Walk grading - Learn how each walk is assessed and select a walk to suit your ability and experience by going to Walk Grading Details.

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