A New Year – and, for us, a brand new walking route. A casual throwaway remark introduced us to walking the Hampshire Hangers. Nothing to do with aircraft, these ‘Hangers’ are a beautiful area of English countryside set in Hampshire in southern England.
The name ‘Hanger’ comes from the Old English word hangra, meaning a steeply wooded slope. The Hangers are described as ‘probably the richest woodlands on English chalk. Here the chalk that covers the central and northern parts of Hampshire abruptly ends in a scarp slope giving way to farmland’.
We followed part of the ‘The Hangers Way’, a 21-mile medium distance footpath from Alton station to Queen Elizabeth Country Park passing through Petersfield, Steep and Selbome. Hampshire County Council publishes an excellent little brochure ‘Walking in Hampshire’ which states;
‘The Hanger Way has been divided into eight sections, each providing a really good day out. Choose between quiet villages or bustling market towns, meadow picnics or cosy pubs, steep hills with exhilarating views or cool, peaceful woodland.
We set off from the lovely little village of Steep. We soon discovered why it was named Steep! The scramble up the side of the Hangar from Steep to the Poet’s Stone was truly vertiginous! The HCC brochure describes this section (from the other direction) thus;
‘Leave Hawkley and cross a stream to reach the medieval hamlet of Oakshott. Continue along the way and climb the steepest ascent of the whole path, from Oakshott up to the Shoulder of Mutton Hill. In a clearing on the hill is The Poet’s Stone, dedicated to the memory of local poet Edward Thomas who was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917. Walk along to Ashford Hill, down into Lutcombe Bottom and along a boggy valley to arrive in Steep. The scenery is such that this area is known as ‘Little Switzerland’. Passing through the churchyard of All Saints Church, some tombs of Jane Austen’s family can be found’.
A superb walk in a beautiful area of southern England – well worth the effort, well worth a visit.