Hampshire Walk – December 2017

Head to the north-west corner of Hampshire for a wander through the picturesque village of Hannington tucked within the North Wessex Downs AONB.

The view looking north-east from Halves Wood
The view looking north-east from Halves Wood

The beautiful little village of Hannington, whose name derives from ‘Haningtun’ meaning the ‘farm of Hana’, hides 200m up in the North Hampshire Downs; a large expanse of rolling chalk hills that form part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Clustered around the large village green, with its pyramidal-roofed well head that was built in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee are a lovely collection of brick and timber cottages.

The pyramidal-roofed well head at Hannington, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897
The pyramidal-roofed well head at Hannington, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897

Beyond the lychgate lies All Saints Church, parts of which date back to Saxon times. If you get a chance to go inside have a look at the two beautifully engraved memorial windows by Sir Laurence Whistler CBE – a leading exponent of hand engraving during the 20th century. One window remembers William Whistler (1886–1978), whose family have farmed at Hannington for generations; the window shows the Scythe of Time, with William Whistler’s dates of birth and death on the two handles, a sheaf of corn and flock of sheep being driven by a border collie illustrate his life as a farmer. The other window remembers Rose Hodson and depicts the house, built in 1793, where she lived for 22 years.

All Saints Church, Hannington
All Saints Church, Hannington

From the village green the walk soon passes The Vine pub before meandering alongside the neighbouring woods of Buckland’s Pightle Copse and English Wood; incidentally, the pub was originally called The Wellington Arms, since it sits on land that once belonged to the estate of the Duke of Wellington. Soon the walk strides out over open fields before dipping down to cross Ibworth Lane and then rising up alongside Gaston Wood.

The Vine at Hannington pub
The Vine at Hannington pub

We then follow surfaced tracks to reach the lofty heights of Plantation Hill before heading west with views to the right over the Kennet Valley and ahead to the large TV mast on Cottington’s Hill. The final leg of the walk heads south past Hannington Scrubs before passing All Saints Church to arrive back at the village green; from here it’s a short walk back to Michael’s Field; published in Hampshire Life, December 2017.

Heading west over Plantation Hill, looking towards the TV mast on Cottington's Hill
Heading west over Plantation Hill, looking towards the TV mast on Cottington’s Hill