Looking to expand our repertoire of “walks withing five miles of home”, Mrs Chippy and I recently explored the public footpath through the Cranbury Park estate.
The Chamberlayne family of Cranbury Park once owned much of the land in what is now Eastleigh town centre. The names are preserved in the names of Cranbury and Chamberlayne Roads, and the Chamberlayne Arms pub. I think that Desborough and Nutbeem were something to do with the estate as well, but I forget what.
For logistical reasons, we started our walk at the top of bottom of Boyatt Lane and detoured through the picturesque Allbrook Lakes.
Picking up the footpath that runs parallel to the motorway link road, we re-joined Boyatt Lane at this rather pointless-looking gate. Why use the gate when you can walk around it?
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Boyatt Lane was fully open to traffic; I can remember driving down it a few times. Now the link road underpass is for non-motorised traffic. However, it does have some impressive murals, even if we have to overlook the fact that the railway never (or rarely) carried an Intercity 125.
At the top of Otterbourne Hill, we walked past the reservoir and crossed the motorway bridge into the Cranbury Estate.
We came across what appears to be a ruined church, but it’s a bit of a trick. Yes, it is a ruined church, but not from here. It is part of the remains of Netley Abbey which were moved here in the late 18th century as a folly. That’s the way they had fun back in the 18th century.
On the other side of the park the path takes several twists and turns as it crosses farmland towards Hursley. The public footpath joins the Hursley Road at Ladwell, but I think there is a permissive path that allows pedestrians to avoid the road (at least, there was last time I walked that far). We didn’t walk that far on this occasion but, having covered about 3 ½ miles, stopped at a convenient point for a traditional walker’s refreshment before heading back.
One word of warning – recent weather has made some of the path very wet and muddy. I quite enjoyed it, but Mrs Chippy wasn’t so keen. Wear stout footwear.