Exton - Old Winchester Hill - Wheely Down - Beacon

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This really is a glorious tour of the best of the Meon Valley. It starts from a small parking area in Exton and follows the South Downs Way to the top of Old Winchester Hill. Here you will find the remains of an Iron Age fort which was constructed around several Bronze Age burial mounds which were built 1,000 to 2,000 years before. There is so much to see at this Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserve. This unimproved chalk downland with its wealth of wildflowers in the summer months is home to several butterfly species and there is also a diverse bird population. Climb on top of one of the burial mounds for outstanding, far-reaching views!

The route then leaves the hilltop and swoops down into the tranquil valley, climbing back with fantastic views from every angle! Then a walk along the hill-fort's ramparts joins the upward path for a short distance, before descending through the valley to Warnford. Here you will find The George and Falcon, where you can stop for refreshments (see additional information). A gentle climb up Wheely Down along the South Downs Way treats you to views of where you have already walked and leads you to Beacon Hill. This is another Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserve. As you descend back to Exton through fields, once again there are some marvellous views to be enjoyed. Then a quiet lane, which passes The Shoe Inn in the pretty village of Exton, takes you back to the car parking area.

It's quite a long walk for me as I usually prefer about five to six miles, but with lots of sit-downs to enjoy the views it is not too tiring. Allow plenty of time; it actually took me 5.5 hours, but I took a picnic and stopped chatting to quite a few people. I met a lovely man called Dave who told me that he was a volunteer ranger for the nature reserve and worked at preventing car crime at the local beauty spots' car parks in the Meon Valley. He was proud to tell me that car crime was down to nil in 2007 and his binoculars were trained on the very car park where your car is now!

There are no stiles at all for most of the walk, but towards the end there is quite a flurry of them, but they are easy ones and my dog managed to get through them all without a problem.
Be sure to wear waterproof boots, as the beginning section by the river can be quite wet during rainy periods.

England - South England - Hampshire - South Downs

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Good for Kids, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Wildlife, Woodland
02/10/2010 - Patricia Daw

Fabulous walk with wonderful views and the pub is half way round for the loo!

19/09/2010 - Patricia Daw

18/09/10 - Tricia Daw. We completed this fabulous walk today. The views are indeed outstanding - you could see the Isle of Wight from Old Winchester Hill Fort! The weather was perfect for such views. The George and Falcon is completely refurbished and has a very friendly landlord - the pub was where we stopped for a quick drink (and the use of the ladies!). I will look out for more walks devised by Sylvia if they are all as good as this one. Thank you.

24/06/2010 - Shaun Clements

I did part of this walk on 17th June of an evening. I started at the George & Falcon, followed the road up to the Hill Fort with impressive views. Wandered around the Fort and then headed back to the Inn via the road again. 3 hours in total, although the next time I'll go back across the fields along the Monarch Way. I intend to go back when it's had a hard frost on snow and when a storm is brewing as the scenery will be spectacular.

19/08/2008 - Sylvia Saunders

Updated August 2008 with great thanks to Bob!

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16.8 Miles
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