Our Hampshire's Robin Waldman and his family head off to the beautiful Test Valley town

Hampshire Chronicle: Up hill and down daleUp hill and down dale (Image: Robin Waldman)
Our journey was a relaxed amble, taking in the sights and stopping to explore the landscapes and historical points along the way, and so took us about five hours. We enjoyed discovering the narrow footpaths, bridleways, tracks and quiet country lanes. The best place to park is in Roman Road in Stockbridge, you can then walk uphill with open fields alongside until you cross the main A30 and over a stile. Here the views open out over the farmlands and long straight stretches towards Danebury Hill Fort.


Hampshire Chronicle: An ancient relicAn ancient relic (Image: Robin Waldman)
The views across the plains are particularly good from this aspect of the hill. Danebury is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and has been subject to significant archaeological activity, with evidence from this indicating the fort was built some 2500 years ago and occupied for 500 years. The Museum of the Iron Age in Andover houses some of the finds.

Hampshire Chronicle: The top sportThe top sport (Image: Robin Waldman)

When you reach the Old Stockbridge Road you can choose to take a small diversion along the road to the Fort. On the day we visited we were lucky to see highland cattle and ponies grazing, helping to support habitat conservation. The site is owned and managed by Hampshire County Council and provides a fascinating day trip in its own right. The hill rises visibly from the surrounding low lying areas, making it obvious why it was chosen as a hill fort site. From the road you walk up to the hill, past a car park at the entrance and one nearer the top. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Fun for the familyFun for the family (Image: Robin Waldman)
The fort contains circular earthworks and rampart rings so it’s worth immersing yourself in the full circular walk to gain a full sense of the size and structure. Children will enjoy running up and down and through the earthworks. There are many beech trees which provide seasonal changes of perspective and it’s a great area for a picnic and games.  

Hampshire Chronicle: Vineyard viewsVineyard views (Image: Robin Waldman)
Continuing our walk, we headed cross-country along a bridleway through open country with no traffic noise and few houses or people. With a steep hill ridge on the right we noticed to the left the vineyards of Black Chalk Wine. Looking across the fields the treehouse accommodation can be spotted; a great place to stay for wine lovers. 

Hampshire Chronicle: A quality pitstopA quality pitstop (Image: Robin Waldman)
Crossing the Longstock Road we continued on our way with our sights set on a lunch break at the café and farm shop of the Leckford Estate. Before reaching this, we passed the entrance to Longstock Water Gardens, a lovely, quiet gardens which are open part-time and again part of the Estate, all owned by John Lewis PLC.   

Hampshire Chronicle: Unique to HampshireUnique to Hampshire (Image: Robin Waldman)
The final leg of the walk, mostly along the country lane, so no pavements, takes in quintessential Hampshire village life. Cute, thatched cottages mix with imposing Georgian and older properties, with village halls, churches and the Peat Spade gastropub. Finally, the spire of St. Peters Church appears beyond the water meadows. 

Hampshire Chronicle:  A country town A country town (Image: Robin Waldman)
Standing on the bridge over the clear waters of the River Test we arrive in the picturesque market town of Stockbridge. The town has blossomed in recent years with a wide range of independent eateries and shops selling clothing for country gents and women, gifts, wine, a delicatessen, butchers, rugs and books, plus regular antiques fairs at the Town Hall. The site of the ducks and trout in the waterway in the middle of town attracts adults and children alike. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Leckford Farm ShopLeckford Farm Shop (Image: Robin Walden)
Leckford Farm Shop is up a long drive and has a great plant nursery set in walled gardens. The shop sells a range of Waitrose foods, produce from the Estate and local Hampshire producers. We enjoyed a simple but tasty lunch at the outside picnic tables as we had a dog with us. The café has a lovely breakfast menu for early risers.