Boardwalks from OS HQ, Southampton
4.7 miles / 7.5km
We're lucky enough to have our office (OS HQ) so close to nature and in just over an hour you can walk on boardwalks, lakeside trails and country lanes. This walk is an all-time favourite of those in the Ordnance Survey office looking to break up their day with a lunch time walk. As with most offices (and some homes too) there's a couple of busy roads to navigate across (with the help of traffic light crossings) but once you cross the railway track, you'll be surrounded by nature.
Boardwalk and beautiful spring blossom at OS HQ
The boardwalk goes through the Lower Test Nature Reserve which is a haven for birdwatching. You'll then follow the footpath through an industrial estate before reaching beautiful Testwood Lakes. This route passes Little Testwood Lake but you can easily extend it to include the larger Testwood Lake as well. Fields of horses are regularly seen on route and if you're lucky you may even spot a cow!
Silk Mill to Bere Mill, Whitchurch
2.8 miles / 4.5km
Whitchurch may be small, but it packs a cultural punch with a rich
history and renowned natural spaces. Uncover the medieval town's fascinating
past, on a leisurely jaunt along the world-famous River Test. Start at the Silk
Mill which has been weaving the luxury fabric since 1817, including material
for Princess Diana's wedding dress. It's now an Industrial Heritage Museum with
a riverside café and well worth a visit. Whitchurch Silk Mill - Industrial heritage museum in rural Hampshire Before crossing
Winchester Street, take a detour into the mini nature reserve by the Gill
Nethercott Centre. Afterwards, cross the road and follow the route, walking
behind Whitchurch Primary School.
Silk Mill to Bere Mill
To your left, a few metres off the path, you'll see the River Test, one of the most famous chalk streams in the world. It's known for its fantastic fly fishing and a precious ecosystem created by pure, warm water springing from chalk aquifers deep underground. The mineral rich water supports a vast range of flora and fauna from glorious yellow flag irises, to mayfly and otters. Wander on past open fields, oak trees, and cattle - the type of landscape Gainsborough would have recognised – until you reach Bere Mill. Britain's bank note paper was once printed here until operations moved up-stream. It's now a family home which was sadly destroyed by fire in 2018 but has been carefully restored. Continue along the route crossing the Test. Before you reach the B3400, bear left across farmland heading back towards Whitchurch town centre. If you need a bite before heading home, pop into Kudos for coffee and cake.
Aldridge Inclosure walk, Brockenhurst
3.4 miles / 5.5km
This walks starts just round the corner from the centre of Brockenhurst village heading out over Black Knowl on a gravel path towards Highland Water which has a stream perfect for a paddle for dogs or people! On Black Knowl there is always wildlife to be seen, particularly New Forest Ponies and if you go at the right time of year and are lucky deer and pigs! Then you walk round the top of Block Knowl to Ober Corner. Here you shortly join a road (limited traffic as only an access point for a campsite), before heading off into the trees at Aldridge Inclosure. After a little bit, you turn off to cross Ober water and head across Whitefield Moor (where there are more ponies). Then finally you head back to the starting back into Brockenhurst.
The terrain is mainly gravel so it is easy walking. Whitefield Moor is open moorland but as it is higher ground it is often dry. This makes it good for all seasons - particularly as the route is easily adaptable such as walking back along the road from the campsite instead of going into Aldridge Hill Inclosure. There is lots of open space and water to be enjoyed, making it a good walk for dogs.
This walk could be joined from different points - from Brockenhurst village, the Caravan and Motorhome site and Forestry Commission (free!!) parking around Whitefield Moor. It also is an easy walk to adapt, by changing your route back into the village along North Weirs or spend more time in Aldridge Inclosure. If looking for a shorter walk just head across Black Knowl to the stream and back.
Make it your mission this National Walking Month to plot a new route from your front door and get walking. Why not set yourself the challenge of adding an extra walk into your weekly routine, or if you’re feeling extra healthy, make it part of your day? These small steps (pun intended!) can make all the difference.
When following routes, please remember to take care of the great outdoors and follow the Countryside Code at all times.