This is a moderate walk across beautiful open countryside, with fieldpaths, farmtracks and quiet country lanes. The gentle climb to the summit of Broadhalfpenny Down gives amazing views over the rolling downland.
Hambledon is known throughout the world as the cradle of cricket. A charming, very quiet village, it nestles under the protection of Windmill and Broadhalfpenny Downs. In 1612, James I granted the right to two fairs a year. The letters patent were stamped with the word 'Broadhalfpenny' which was the toll paid to the Lord of the Manor for the setting up of booths, and where the name of Broadhalfpenny Down derives from.
The main street has a few beautiful half-timbered buildings, but it is the High Street which attracts most attention. Backed by wooded slopes and lined with mainly Georgian buildings, the street climbs to the Parish Church and a view which has been captured many times in photgraphs and paintings. The buildings are made up of a mixture of quaint little shops and residential properties.
Walk in Detail
Distance: 6 miles
How to get there: Hambledon is 9 miles southwest of Petersfield, Hampshire
Start: GR646151. Roadside parking in Hambledon
Maps: Landranger 186 & 196; Explorer 132; Pathfinder 1285 SU61/71
1. Having parked your car in the village, walk up the High Street to the Church. Pass through the gate and bear right through the church grounds to a road. Cross over, pass in front of the School then continue on the foot path between fields. Cross the metalled track and continue across the Hambledon Vineyard to the end. Over the stile then turn left on to broad track known as 'Lovers Lane'.
2. Continue up the hill until you reach a narrow path. Continue to a stile. Over the stile and continue across the field to a stile at the bottom end of a hedge row. Cross the stile and follow a narrow path between trees to a large open field. Bear left across the field. Reach a road and turn right to the main road. Turn left for 50 metres to Park House.
3. Turn left along the drive, pass through the metal gate ahead and follow a track alongside fields on your left. Continue ahead through pleasant light woodland for 220 metres to a waymarked post. (In summer the post is almost hidden in the undergrowth). Here, fork left for 40 metres to a signpost at the edge of a field.
4. Fork diagonally right across the field to a waymarked post then turn right along the field edge. Turn left at a waymarked post to meander through a lovely ash plantation to a large open field. Turn right alongside the field to a lane. Cross over, go through a metal gate and follow a field boundary on your left to a stile. Turn right over the stile and walk through three fields which gently rise to the road. Turn right to walk down to the Bat & Ball public house.
Across the road from the Bat and Ball Inn is the site of the first Hambledon Cricket Club which was formed in 1750. Originally, the Inn served as pavilion and club house and Richard Nyren, reputed to be the best all-round player of his day, was not only captain, he was also the landlord of the Inn. Although cricket was not born in Hambledon, it was here on what is known as Broadhalfpenny Down, that it grew.
A granite memorial to the club's early heroes has been erected. The team had attracted players from neighbouring counties. Due to the remoteness of Hambledon the best of these players found it increasingly easier to play nearer London. Eventually, the Marylebone Cricket Club was formed in 1787.
Any rules passed at Hambledon became observed throughout the cricket world. The club established the width of the bat and introduced the middle stump. Previously some players had arrived with bats as wide as the stumps and bowlers had occasionally bowled right between the two stumps without displacing the bail. Spectators came from near and far. On one occasion a big match drew a crowd of over twenty thousand.
5. Turn right along the Hambledon Road, but first look back to the amazing view of the downs and Windmill Hill. On reaching the Chidden road junction, turn left over a stile into a field. Bear slightly right to go quite steeply up the field to the stile on the right. Over the stile, turn right for the gentle ascent of Broadhalfpenny Down; first pause to admire the magnificent view across the wood-crowned rolling downs. The track climbs to a height of 152 metres (502 feet); at which point a gap in the trees allows a second view of Windmill Hill; whilst on the right, almost hidden in the trees, is a trig point. From here the track descends to "Scotland Cottage".
6. Immediately beyond the cottage bear left between trees. The path soon opens up to give extensive views on the left. On reaching a junction, turn right along a track. As the track sweeps to the right, fork left; in 55 metres pass an electicity pole on the left. Turn right at a T-junction and soon reach a small pond on the left.
7. Turn left at the pond. Pass through a metal gate to an open barn on the left. Turn right uphill, crossing two stiles. From the second stile follow a line of electricity poles across three large open fields via stiles and a crossing track to a stile into a paddock.
8. Keep ahead through the paddock to a stile on the right. Continue to a drive and turn left. After 25 metres turn right along a fenced path. The path ends at a driveway to a house. Go down the drive to a lane. Turn left along the lane. On reaching a house, 'Little Rushmere', turn right and follow the quiet country lane for half a mile as it twists and turns and eventually descends to the road running from Denmead to Hambledon. Turn right to Lott's General Store and Tea Shop.
9. From the tea shop continue along the road into the village, to a junction. Turn right to the village centre and the High Street.