Thirty Something…

The original A30 By-pass in Basingstoke has since been by-passed by a newer A30, but much of it is still in use. This photographic essay travels along its post-war route.

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Been and gone… The Bypass route looking north towards Black Dam
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The Route of the 1932/3 Basingstoke By-pass. Follow the dots below…

It was around 1932 That the new road was opened by passing the town centre. I find this in interesting in itself as the demand for cars would not have been as great as it was to come. (Who could own a car in 1933?) However, congestion in the town was such a problem that councilors acted quickly. The ancient Harrow way/ Pack Lane was utilized as the solution. The first part built off Black Dam roundabout is still in use as the current A30 but now a dual carraigeway. Its not a perfect fit, but this montage shows a ‘then and now’ where the Bypass started.

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Above The bypass in the 60’s and today, ‘almost’ the same spot…

When the newer A30 was built, it veered away to the right. To continue and find the original by-pass route, I have to start in the bushes…

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1). I wouldn’t recommend venturing in here for long!
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2). The line of the road begins to be visable…
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3). After the gate, this part is now called Whistler Way.
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4). From Whistler Way, now a staggered juction, it carried into Grove Road, the original course.
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4). Grove Road.

Grove Road gets its name from ‘The Grove’, as marked on O.S six inch maps around 1880s, but on later editions seems to be known as ‘Skippets House’

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5) Venture Roundabout, crossing the A339, named after the resturant that stood here serving the motorists needs…
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6). After The Venture roundabout…
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7). Skippets Lane East, where The Grove was.

Cliddesden Road is another old road I could write more on. The M3 Motorway effectively severed its purpose, and later was closed off at the new A30 end. The houses along the road are quite grand, a testemant to its importance.

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8). Cliddesden Road Roundabout, it becomes the ‘Harrow Way’

After this roundabout, the Road is named ‘The Harrow Way’ Also known as ‘Harroway’ is one of the oldest Wessex routes dating from the Neolithic Period part of ‘The Old Way’
If you liked to know more about this ancient route read here

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9).  Jays Close joins the roundabout with The Golden Lion Pub on the corner
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10). Towards Viables
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11). Approaching Viables Craft Centre.

Viables was an old farm and most of the buildings are still there. Its now divided into units for craft makers, small businesses and cafes. There is a also a miniture railway society based there with a track, which is regulary open to the public at weekends.

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An example of a Staddle Stone barn on Viables

12). We approach Viables Roundabout. Talking of railways, The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway used to cut across the road, towards the end of its 12 mile journey, and it still would have been outside the town when the by-pass arrived. In the modern roundabout and subways they have preserved a section… If you want to know more about the history of The Basingstoke and Alton Railway click here.

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Small is beautiful… Section of The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway
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12). The Viables roundabout, The railway would have been to the left.
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13). A part of the Harrow Way which has had settlement way before Basingstoke’s growth.

Brighton Hill Roundabout

 

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14). Cumberland Avenue on left.
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15). Brighton Hill Roundabout

Brighton Hill is one of the busiest roundabouts in Basingstoke as the town developed in the 70’s & 80’s.  The old road met at a junction opposite the White House, a farm, (Now Pizza Express). The roundabout still carried the A30 from the right.
I have also found out there was an Italian Prisoner of War camp on the site where the Halford Store is.

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Fab 4 a reason…

16). From Brighton Hill in Winchester Road, (on the what is now the old A30), next to the Shell Garage and where Home Bargains is now, was a restuarant called the ‘Pied Piper’.
The motorist was catered for with several pubs around this junction. And it was here The Beatles stopped for some refreshment on their way to Southampton in 1967, It may not be a cultural highlight for them, but its the only known Photo’s of the Fab Four in Basingstoke! You can read more and see the photos on this fascinating musical footnote in RazRazzle’s blog here. (And more besides… a really good read and local history).

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17) Almost the end…

I’m not sure when the Road was diverted, but on my O.S. 1973 Landranger map this stretch is still classed as The A30. The new road construction looks around the 80’s to me.

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Pack Lane is to the right, through Down Grange & Kempshott

Incidently Pack Lane carries to Oakley and picks up the Original Great West Road. (You can read more about the history of The Great West Road around Basingstoke on my blog here).

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18). End of the (Winchester) Road…

From Brighton Hill Roundabout, the A30 route was diverted and joined back on to the existing Winchester Road. This feels a bit like how we started – the old road is overgrown and closed off- You also wouldn’t want to loiter too long after dark around there!

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A bit of pavement from the old road…
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19). Joining the A30 at Winchester Road

So there it is. In time the By-pass was surpassed by a new A30. I feel a bit sorry for it especially how it literally finishes a bit undistinguished. But The Harrow Way / Pack Lane which were central in its development, are of course are much older routes and we still use them today to get around Basingstoke.

 

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Walking a Roman Road

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Edge of the Roman Road towards Hannington © Nigel Smith

A early summer walk following part of a Roman Road through North Hampshire.

This is another one of those instances where driving through the area on my commute to Newbury, I look up something of interest and I want to further investigate on foot when I get the chance… The early June day I picked was perfect weather for walking.
On the map the roman road is marked as ‘Port Way’. The part I’ll be walking is defined by a line of tree planting and I also see the term ‘Ceasar’s Belt’ on maps which I think is related to forestry and not the Emperor’s clothes…

‘Port Way’ is the name given to the road between the Roman settlements of silchester in Hampshire and Old Saram in Wiltshire, near Salisbury, (and part of the longer network between Dorchester and London). With the trees lining the route its hard to a tell how much of the original structure of the road remains, but there are some well defined ditches and undulations. The percieved knowlege of the historians through excavations carried out on Port Way suggest what we have today is ‘pretty well preserved example’ for an almost 2000 year old road. Not all roman roads were built up and depending on their importance, but this one used the engineering techniques of the day.

The Walk

  1. There is a layby near the start of the walk. There are some cottages called ‘Clapgate’ beside the old A34, (which must be a reference to a stopping post?) heres my map to show the route.
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© Nigel Smith

We are starting on the roman road. Its a slight rise and initially earthworks are visable. There are enclosures close and its not long before I see some Dear and other wildlife.

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Route of the roman road is to the right © Nigel Smith

The path then seems to be directed to run alongside and trees continue to mark the route. Its not long before the view opens up into rolling countryside.

Farm access means there is a track alongside. Its tempting to see a piece of rock and think you are looking at an original surface but as this is part of a farm, there are tracks so its probably infall!

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I so much want these fragments to be the original roman surface…

2). The walk is rising gradually and then over the crest we come down to a road. There’s a fallen tree so its a good place to sit and open the flask.

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First place to stop after crossing the road © Nigel Smith

After the next bit it is a steeper climb, but the views are rewarding. To the left there looks to be old black hut, but directly ahead is White Hill and the distinctive Hannington mast.

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We leave the course of the roman road here… © Nigel Smith

3). The path dips here and it is at this point our walk takes a left on an ajoining footpath. It is signposted, but over a stlye on the right hand side. The path rises again and picks a cross wind up, so I imagine some days this is quite an exposed part. I walk by the ‘hut’ I saw earlier and it turns out to be some derelict farm sheds…

There is quite a steep descent by a plantation and where we are going to cross the road again is visable. A really nice part of the walk!

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Flintshire or Hampshire?? © Nigel Smith

4). Crossing the road, at ‘Owls Lodge’ the amount of flint underfoot really shows up on this stretch. The O.S. map refers to ‘field systems’ being evident, which I guess dates from The Medieval period.  (I can see other references littered along Great Litchfield Down).

Back in the present day there are several lanes I cross for Down Farm. The track is gravel and stone, which is loose but well defined as it slowly rises.

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Beacon Hill in distance © Nigel Smith

5). I’ve got my spot for lunch. The view opens up again towards Beacon Hill. Wonderfully you can’t see the A34 running beneath it. On Beacon Hill, there is a grave for the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who’s ancestral home Highclere castle, (and setting for ‘Downton Abbey’), is behind the hill in the valley on the left. After lunch, back on to the the footpath, it is a tarmac road, so watch out for estate traffic.

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Looking back up the lane I’ve just walked down from luch spot

Down one side is a fine avenue of trees. There is a small row of estate workers houses, before we enter the village of Litchfield itself. Its a quiet place that also used to have its own railway station, (and I think I’ll come back to Litchfield in another blog sometime in more detail), but the old A34 used to run through the village, before the Dual Carraigeway was built.

6). Turn right by some converted stables then take the next left, by the rectory on the right. (The white building in the photo below).

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Converted Farm buildings in Litchfield across the old A34 © Nigel Smith

Opposite the rectory are the remains of a path up to the dissused station.

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Old railway gate, Litchfield © Nigel Smith

Ahead of us is the underpass of the A34 which we have to go through. This is suddenly the noisiest part of the whole walk. The road takes traffic from Winchester and The South Coast, up to Oxford and the M40!

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Not the prettiest picture I’ll take!

7). After the underpass, follow the path round to the right. I found My O.S. map wasn’t totally clear in signposting where the path would be, but I kept on following on and I eventually saw the signpost directed me left up a bank along a track. Looking back down I appeared to be back tracking, but then thankfully it veers to right through a gap and away from the noise on a small path.

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Not very well signposted, take the path to the right, and not carrying on the track…

The path follows some power lines up a hill. I still wanted some clarification I was heading on the right path, but it soon becomes very evident its the path!

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Towards Dunley © Nigel Smith

8). As you approach Dunley, the path has on the right what looks like converted farm buildings.  The path joins a lane which splits, take the left fork and at the juction of the road, cross it and follow the road signposted ‘Egbury’. There is a long avenue of trees and a gradual rise for a mile. It feels like part of an old estate.

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© Nigel Smith

9). You approach some gates to Dunley Park. Bear to the left around and carry on a short way through a gentle bend, where the road forks. Take the left route which is initially a made up track. You are entering Bradley Wood. We’re staying on this path through the wood. At the farm the track stops, but the path is defined around to the right of the property.

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Bradley Wood Farm © Nigel Smith

10). A feature on the map really intrigued me, and the main reason I wanted to explore. We’re picking up the ‘Portway’ roman road again as it runs through the wood. Clearly marked are some earthworks and what looks like ditches which the footpath will cross. The sun was shining again which added charm to the mixed woodland.

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© Nigel Smith

The wood feels old, but the trees have been planted over any archeology there was. Pollarding of trees would have been done many times in this woodland. I was hoping to see more defined features to be honest. Also, the features are on private land off the path so its hard to get close. Even where the path crosses the Roman Road its hard to make out any features, which is a real pity.
(A later walk I did in Dorset on a roman road, Ackling Dyke, was a better preserved example. read more here).

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The Roman Road… honest!

11). I carry on through the wood and there is another underpass beneath the A34.  A short gap brings me back almost full circle. Take care – the last part is along the roadside back to my car. Despite the last part not adding anything visual to the Roman experience, of the Portway, Its been a varied walk with some great views and woodland.

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I think I can see the car!

 

Details
Length: approx 7 miles
Terrian: some gradual climbs, mostly defined footpaths and tracks. Some Styles and partly along roadside.