Walking The Test Way Part 1 - Inkpen to St Marybourne
Yesterday was my birthday - not a special one, another notch towards the next big one; however I have decided to embark over the next decade 50 things to do before I'm 50, and here is another one, to walk a long distance trail. Prior to today the longest walk I have marked was 9 miles and today we were looking at 20 miles as we were walking home after St Marybourne. Not only is this a 50 before 50 thing, inspired by reading the Salt Path, my friends and I also wanted to do this to raise awareness for Sophies Journey and help to raise money for Sophie.
We started at Inkpen at 8:30am after driving down and dodging, I swear, over a hundred pheasants! The weather forecast was sunny with intermittent rain showers, so we came prepared (and slightly more laden than I would have liked). What I did notice about this leg was the marked absence of said River Test, however the high views and sweeping dales made this a magnificent walk nonetheless.
The Test Way begins in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in West Berkshire, before crossing into Hampshire at Coombe Wood. Inkpen Beacon is high up at 280m and the panoramic views right from the beginning are tremendous. Initially you climb up to the top of Combe Gibbet on Gallows Down. Combe Gibbet stands 25ft high on the summit of Inkpen Beacon and is unusual as it’s a double gibbet, reportedly erected for the hanging of a man and woman who were secret lovers! Then you follow the track surrounding fields to Combe Wood. Then some lovely woodland walking before reaching the village of Linkenholt, then onto Ibthorpe before reaching Hurstbourne Tarrant. Here we stopped for refreshment at the George and Dragon, which boasts great draught beers and a lovely food menu. After feeling refreshed and blowing out my birthday candle set in a Twirl, we head off toward St Marybourne. This part of the walk has plenty of woodland and rolling farms with glorious views.
We were lucky as we seemed to out walk the rain clouds which were always threatening on the horizon. We ended our walk with a curry and I got home and jumped in a hot bath to soothe the muscles and slept soundly for 10 hours! A day very well spent with some lovely ladies, all for a very good cause.
If you would like to embark on the Test Way, follow this link
If you would like to stop for refreshment at the George and Dragon, book here