“Walking on footpaths and tracks is the best way to enjoy Hampshire’s lovely and diverse countryside. They only know a country who are acquainted with its footpaths. By the roads, indeed, the outside may be seen; but the footpaths go through the heart of the land”
The Victorian nature writer, Richard Jefferies penned this long before our dependence on the motor car, but the same could equally be said of the North Hampshire Downs today.
Whitchurch recently gained accreditation to the Walkers are Welcome national town network, becoming the first town to represent both the North Hampshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Test River Valley.
Today there are over 100 Walkers are Welcome towns in Britain and wherever you see this sign you can be assured of receiving a warm welcome.
This community led national accreditation scheme recognises towns that make it easy for visiting walkers to:
- Enjoy excellent walking opportunities in the surrounding countryside on well maintained way-marked footpaths.
- Stay in local accommodation and use the services of local businesses.
- Plan their journey using local transport.
National site: WALKERS ARE WELCOME UK NETWORK
What makes Whitchurch special for walkers?
Whitchurch is fortunate to be surrounded by stunning countryside; the beautiful crystal clear waters of the famous River Test flow through the centre of the town as it continues south, meandering through ancient chalk meadows, watercress beds and past picturesque chocolate box villages on its journey south to Southampton Water.
To the north of the town Whitchurch is bordered by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where the sweeping, chalk downland and fields of wheat and barley are home to the skylark and lapwing, the buzzard and red kite. This is a landscape criss crossed by quiet lanes and ancient tracks that walkers can enjoy and a few miles to the west of Whitchurch you will find the remains of Harewood Forest, a rare example of truly ancient woodland and home to a large native deer population.
Whitchurch has something for everyone; whether you are looking for a gentle stroll by the river…look out for the kingfishers, or a more challenging walk with welcome refreshments in a country pub. Or perhaps you might wish to visit the historic Whitchurch Silk Mill and combine this with a walk along the Mill Trail to Laverstoke Mill, once producer of the Bank of England bank notes and now the home of Bombay Sapphire gin distillery. Longer circular and linear walks following ancient trackways are available encompassing a wide and varied landscape of big skies, ridges and steep valleys. The Harroway crosses just a mile from the town; dating from Neolithic times, it is sometimes described as the oldest road in Britain and a short distance from Whitchurch you have Watership Down the setting for Richard Adams’ best-selling book of the same name.
We look forward to welcoming you to our town.
For a small rural town, Whitchurch has excellent train and bus services that link with many of the walks in the area. The town is on the main line from London Waterloo through Salisbury to Exeter and there are regular direct bus links to Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester. Stagecoach, our main bus operator offers a range of ticketing products aimed specifically at leisure customers.
South West Trains Information
South West Trains
Stagecoach South buses (routes 76 and 86 serve Whitchurch)
Walking in and around Whitchurch
Whitchurch circular walks are available to download from this site Walks in and around Whitchurch and leaflets are available from Whitchurch Town Hall, Whitchurch Silk Mill and Whitchurch Library.
Whitchurch Walking For Health
Walking for Health
Whitchurch Evening Ramblers
‘Walkers are Welcome’ towns help to ensure that footpaths and facilities remain open and are kept in good condition so that everyone can enjoy the wonderful countryside on our doorstep. When you are out walking, if you find problems with paths, stiles etc on public rights of way, please report them to Hampshire County Council by logging the issues on their website: