Conceptualised by Simon Ware and executed by Gill Morris of justpoppingout.com, courtesy for one day only of fancyfreewalks, we enjoyed a fun cross-border walk by the gentle River Test in Hampshire last week.
Setting sail from Godalming in leafy Surrey at the workmanlike hour of 9 o’clock, adventurers Simon, Gill, Alex Overington and I started out at peaceful Wherwell, fortified by caffeine & sugar supplies at the excellent Caracoli in picture-perfect Alresford.
Simon had been seduced by the meandering Test when recently passing through and wanted to explore more closely. The rest of us, newly retired, fancied a day out and didn’t mind humouring him in his worthy quest.
The walk was 9 1/2 miles of gentle strolling by or near the river, with the following highlights:
- Longstock Park, with water gardens acquired in 1946 by a certain John Lewis. The Waitrose theme continues as they manage the gardens and the nearby nursery, as is the nearby Leckford Farm shop
- Longstock village, with thatched cottages aplenty and the fine – if somewhat upmarket – Peat Spade Inn
- the wide, open Hampshire skies….a distinct contrast to the more wooded Surrey Hills vistas
- the gloriously named Spratt and Winkle railway line, now disused but running alongside the river and its swaying, bankside reeds
- lunch at the riverside Mayfly pub in Fullerton. The vast clouds of mayflies that hatch in May and June sustain the fish that make the Test the most perfect fly fishing chalk stream in the world. We saw plenty of trout as evidence, but there are also grayling and salmon
- Wherwell village, another thatched & timeless beauty – church, houses, pub and river joining forces to enhance its attraction to residents and to interlopers from across the border
We enjoyed a brief embrace with our neighbouring county but headed home to Surrey, our enduring love, where we will soon be justpoppingout again.