Allan King Way Part 3

  • 24th April 2024
  • Walk Leader: Sandy Arpino
  • Distance: 14 miles (approx.)

Part 3 – Bishop’s Waltham to Tichborne

Unlike the recces of Allan King Way parts 1 and 2, recces for part 3 revealed much better conditions underfoot – another long 14 mile section with 1,000ft of elevation gain to boot. Thankfully the weather forecast was good – no rain and even a little sun – so everything looked fine for an obstacle-free walk.

Until that is, a diligent scout encountered a road closure on the lane leading into our meeting place – Tichborne. The AKW gods had struck again! Frantic reconnaissance in the afternoon before our trek found a road north into Tichborne: a longer but doable drive. Suitably briefed, our party of 14 walkers assembled at the Tichborne Arms in a timely fashion. Squeezing into half the cars – leaving the remaining cars behind – we looped around and down to Bishop’s Waltham, our finish point for AKW part 2. Before 10 0’clock we were back on the trail.

The first mile was the only wet segment of the day. We squelched through lush green and carefully manoeuvred around a tricky duo of kissing gates, where the walk lead had taken a tumble into mud and brambles three weeks before.  

Passing a fenced off nursery packed with small trees – and traversing a patch of scrubland – we crossed Winters Hill Road, to continue along a Roman Road to the B2177. Onwards we skirted a field of peaceful cows, followed by a large field being actively ploughed as we trekked across. In a small copse a surprising sign appeared: Danger active airfield! It looked like a joke, until an error of navigation on an earlier recce had taken the walk leaders onto a grass airstrip. The airfield was indeed very active, judging by the volume of light planes encountered in the area.   

A firm track led us into the delightful village of Upham, where we took a coffee break in the well-maintained churchyard.

Refreshed, our route joined the Monarch’s Way for a distance, before heading north over undulating downland. The springtime countryside was wonderful, enhanced by the emerging sunshine. Abundant cowslips replaced the fading celandines, stretching over entire fields, whilst richly coloured bluebells and pungent wild garlic lined our path.

The rolling, agreeable landscape continued over the next few miles, punctuated by a series of unwelcome stiles. Nonetheless these were approached with good humour, as walkers compared the degree of elegance – or lack of elegance – that companions exhibited in clamouring over the obstacles!

A long wooded track advanced us towards the open arable fields south of Cheesefoot Head. Then the long, slow drag up to the A272 began. The more we gained ground, the wider the views. No one ever tires of the glorious, unbroken 360 degree panorama beneath Cheesefoot Head. No picture does it justice.

But some of our members were flagging – needing lunchtime replenishment. We agreed to plough on to Cheesefoot so that we could put climbing behind us and enjoy the views north of Cheesefoot while we rested and ate. And what a view it is – down into the large natural amphitheatre of chalk grassland.  

We might have lingered longer but a cold wind blew, so we set off with renewed vigour along the South Downs Way for a mile and a half, before the AKW turned north for the final stretch into Tichborne. Generally a comfortable slope downwards, more wooded lanes – lined by impressive trees – gave way to open arable fields.

Soon the stunted tower of Tichborne church was in sight, beckoning us forwards to our goal.

Passing through the little village to the Tichborne Arms we admired the picturesque thatched houses before collapsing in the pub’s vast garden, enjoying well-deserved teas and coffees – with the biggest slices of flapjack ever imagined!

Author and Photographer: Sandy Arpino

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