From: A "figure of eight" walk from West Liss. The car park we used was at the side of the playing field in West Liss, as the route sets out from the back of this car park. However, there are others if this tiny parking is full. Postcode for satnav people is GU33 7FE.
Length: 12 1/2 miles.
Average Walk Time: Around 6 hours.
Terrain: Largely level, but there is one climb of note.
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: Lovely countryside views and glimpses of the River Rother. A fantastic stroll along the A3! (sarcasm).
The car park is a couple of houses North along Station Road opposite St Mary's Church. The path sets out from the back of this. Head straight for about 200m, and note you're already in open countryside. After 200m, you arrive at a T-junction where you turn right. After 100m, you enter a small woodland and a major path crosses your route. This is the Shipwright's Way, which, if you turned left, would take you to Bentley. However, you go straight on today. The path reaches a minor road where you turn right and immediately cross the railway line. Ignore Wyld green Lane on the left, but take the next left which is Patrick's Copse Road. This leads to a pleasant suburban housing estate, but check out the corner house on the first corner on the right. When we passed, it had an old caravan in the front garden and a traction engine parked down the side! Take the 3rd right, Patrick's Close. At the far end of the close, a small footpath between a bungalow on the left and a house on the right leads through to Rake Road. When you arrive at this minor road, cross over and go down Huntsbottom Lane. After about 100m, the road turns left, but you carry straight on an obvious track.
Follow the track for around 300m, until you reach Hill Brow Road, where you turn left. Another 100m and the road corners left, but again you continue, this time on Stodham Lane. Follow this for 400m where you reach a small road on the left. This is a hill! It is also the meeting point for the figure of eight circuit, and you will come back here on the return trip. Turn left up the small road, and pant as you climb the hill. It is allowed! The road eventually meets a dual carriageway (the B2070 – it has to be the old A somethingorother, but we don't really care). Carefully cross the dual carriageway, and continue straight ahead on the other side on a footpath.
This track climbs through Durford Wood for about 1.2km. Here, you reach a very obvious T-junction where you turn left. After 300m, you arrive at a major cross path, the Sussex Border Path, where you turn right. Go through Durleighmarsh Farm and you come to the main Midhurst Road. Cross this and turn right down the track which parallels the main road. After 150m you come to the hamlet of Durleighmarsh. Here you turn left into the hamlet.
Look now carefully on the right. A tiny footpath leads between the second and third (and final) houses in this tiny lane. It is signed, but for all the world it feels as though you're walking into the back garden of Briar Cottage. Enter the fields, and you are now on the Serpent Trail (which we visited in the previous article). This is the site of the former Durford Abbey. This Abbey has a long and pitiful history, founded in 1161 and recording robberies, ruinous visits by Kings, lightning, scandalous abbots, invasions, plague and burnings. It was known locally as Durtford Abbey in mockery of its name, before being sacked and closed by Henry VIII.
After about a kilometre, a curious footbridge takes you over the River Rother, and soon you enter a gravelled track. Look out for the strange UFO-style buildings on the right, and you will arrive at the urban village of Sheet. Turn right at the first minor road, into the Sports Centre. At last, here's an opportunity to have lunch. Dine at the picnic tables at the children's playground and if you need them, there are facilities in the Sports Centre.
Refreshed, it's time to set off again. Cross the playing field diagonally, aiming at a "kink" in the hedge on the opposite side. Enter the second field and a well-worn track leads to the far-right corner. Here you reach the Tilmore Brook, which you turn left at and follow. A bridge crosses the brook, but DO NOT GO OVER. Stay on the near side and continue. Soon you reach the main road, where you turn right. Follow this for 600m, until just before the main junction with the A272 you are signed off right on a footpath.
Sheet Mill is beautiful and the path wiggles past it. Enjoy! The well-worn paths now take you across a playing field, down into a sunken lane and back up the other side. Keep on and you come to the A272. This needs to be crossed, which is not an easy task, but take care and do just this. Walk about 100m left down the road and take a small side road on the right. At the top of the hill, the small road turns left and soon a footpath sets off right from the road. Follow this and in 200m, cross the main railway line on a (very) raised footbridge. The steps up this are the biggest hill you will climb today.
On the other side of the railway, 100m takes you to a minor road. Turn right and in another 150m you come to the highlight of the walk; the A3 proper. Turn right. In truth, the less said about the walk alongside the better. I tried taking a big breath of fresh air before arriving, but it didn't last. The saving grace is that the 200m along the main road is short, and there is some wonderful country to come. Put up with it! The footpath off on the right is not very well marked but has a stile at the top. Cross the metalled footpath paralleling the A3 and take a second stile the other side. Very shortly you reach a minor road leading towards the Petersfield Golf Club. Follow this for 1 kilometre, crossing the railway again (less dramatic than last time), and you come to a minor road. Turn left (almost straight on) and continue for 600m.
A minor road leads off right, up quite a steep hill, which you might recognise from the way out. Yes, you've completed the large loop of the "8" and are on the homeward stretch. Now look for a footpath on your left, going down the side of the tree farm. Admire these maturing trees in their straight rows, and having followed them for 200m, turn left when the farm ends. The path kinks right and reaches the main road in Liss (Hill Brow Road). A left at a mini-roundabout and a LEVEL crossing across the tracks for the last time brings you back to where you started.
I'd like to say a huge thanks to Alan of Farnham Ramblers who lead us all around this great walk. I had a great time, and I hope you do too. Enjoy all of it, and if you can hold your breath longer than I could at the A3, it's a perfect walk.