We followed the Wayfarers Walk out of Droxford, and south towards Soberton, crossing over the disused railway that is now the Meon Valley Trail. We passed Soberton Towers which was built in the late 19th century and has been a private residence, a primary school and a home for Wrens from HMS Mercury (a shore establishment and the site of the Royal Navy Signals School).
The name Soberton is thought to come from Sud (south) bere (barley) ton (settlement or farm). Soberton was once part of a well-established smuggling route in the 18th century, with contraband allegedly stored in a vault beneath the church. There is also a 17th century pub called the White Lion – the smell of cooking was tempting, but as we’d only just started we thought we’d better press on!
After the crossroads at the bottom of the village, the path turns left and through someones garden. Normally I like the chance to be nosy, but this wasn’t the opportunity as the owners were in their driveway saying farewell to visitors, and I already felt I was intruding! Up the hill though we stopped and made friends with this little chap who was very hopeful that our rustling bags signified crumbs.
At one point along this section the path runs down an informal avenue with hedgerow and trees either side and we stumbled across this special tree, which was covered in romantic carvings!
We found a good spot for lunch by the pond near Lithey’s Hanger – although we chose to sit looking at the view rather than the murky water! We had planned to walk around Hambledon, but given we had a timescale to get back to the cafe for our reward of tea and cake, we cut the walk a bit shorter and turned off the Wayfarer’s Walk just after our lunch stop. We got to see Hambledon in the distance, but we will have to wait until next time to see it properly!
The next part of our walk was on the road, but Hambledon Lane was very quiet and we were glad to avoid the mud for a bit.
We cut across the fields to Roy’s Farm and then followed the giant pylons to St Clair’s farm (a different one than the farm of the same name on our last walk). We crossed the A32 and at the top of the hill turned right along a track called Green Lane back towards Droxford. Before we got to the village, we crossed back over the main road so we could follow the line of the river on a path that took us directly to the church – and our very welcome reward of a pot of tea and blueberry muffins!!
This circuit was approximately 8.5 miles.
Other sections of the Wayfarers Walk.