Avon & Test (Overnighter)
Route GPX File : Avon & Test Valley Route
This route follows three river valleys; the Avon, Dun and Test, which dissect the rolling chalk hills of the Salisbury Plain and the Berkshire Downs. It ends at Newbury which is on the same train line as Pewsey. For the most part it follows quiet roads and scattered hamlets in open countryside.
Leaving Pewsey Station, the minor road along the east side of the Avon Valley connects villages that are attractive pretty without reaching chocolate box standards. Approaching Salisbury, you pass the hillfort and castle of Old Sarum, where English Heritage recommend you ‘sniff out the old latrine pits’. Lovely. But a visit is worthwhile, if only for the views. Salisbury itself is a handsome city and worth a detour. In both cases you can see (in)famous 123m tall spire of its Cathedral. Великолепный ! The pre-historic landscape of Stonehenge is only a few miles to the east.
The route to and along the Dun is quiet and pleasant without much specific to catch the eye. You turn off to join the Avon at the Mill Arms opposite Dunbridge and Mottisfont Train Station. It claims to be the finest country pub in Dunbridge; a reasonable claim because it is the only pub in Dunbridge! I stayed there and liked it. Good food, beer (in the garden) & bed.
Just up the road is Mottisfont Abbey, a National Trust property. I didn’t visit. If you fancy it, there is a link below. Further up the valley, Stockbridge is picturesque and also has some B&B accommodation. If you are a hill fort lover, Danebury is a couple of miles to the North West.
|Test River nr Stockbridge
At Whitchurch you leave the river and head for the hills. I found little of interest there. Peppa Pig World just doesn’t do it for me, but maybe you are a fan? The ups and downs result in a climb of around 170m overall and takes you to the great views from the Watership Down of Richard Adams novel (and TV series). Amazingly, this book and film about cute little bunnies was banned by some schools because, in the words of one review, it was an an “unprecedented mash-up of eco-anxiety, homely bottom-of-the-garden anthropomorphism, real violence, and febrile mythmaking”.