Dog Walks near Chandlers Ford blog series
Welcome to #10 in my series of family-friendly dog walks near Chandlers Ford. If you have been following my blogs, then I really hope the information has been useful and you have discovered some lovely new places to visit with the kids and/or the dogs! If you have, then I would love to know what you thought of any of the places!
If you are new to my blog series then welcome! I started writing this last year when several people asked if I could recommend anywhere good to go where they could take their children and their dogs to all have fun! I have a 5 year old son called Charlie, a 4 year old daughter called Evie and an 8 year old chocolate Labrador called Josie, so fun places to visit on a dog walk are important to us all!
I have based the walks in and around Chandlers Ford as that is where I live.
Why Shawford to Brambridge?
Also known as the Itchen Navigation, this is part of a much longer walk where you can walk from Bishopstoke to Winchester. It is a lovely walk that I tend to do on my own when I need some quiet time or peace. josie loves it in all seasons as she’s just happy to bimble along and go for a splash, but I definitely prefer it when it is a bit drier underfoot!
Sadly due to the nature and size of the baths, as well as the undergrowth, this walk is not suitable for wheelchair users or pushchairs; the paths are just too bump, have too many tree roots embedded or are far too narrow in places. I would also be careful with taking little people here as the brambles and nettles are very overgrown and might cause problems for little hands and feet.
The turning is signposted to Shawford Down (almost directly opposite The Bridge pub). The initial car park on the right is always chokker as people use it to walk up and around Shawford Down itself. I keep going on the single track road (go very slowly as it’s incredibly bumpy and filled with pot holes). It will fork and you want to keep going straight rather than round to the left as this leads you to a private road and houses. Head under a metal barrier and keep going to the end. You can park anywhere on the left.
Follow a single track (careful there are a lot of brambles and stingers either side). The right hand side will slope upwards towards Shawford Down and the left hand side is the railway track. In the summer this path can be quite overgrown so take care! Keep following the path with metal fences to the right. The trains run quite frequently so not ideal if you have a child or dog who’s scared of the noise. Eventually you’ll reach a fork in the path with the right hand path going up Shawford Down. You want to take the left hand fork. Go through a gate and under the bridge. Be careful as you end up on a private road so just watch out for cars. Turn right under the bridge and then almost immediately turn left so you walk alongside the river. It’s signposted with the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail and Hants County Council arrows to show a footpath. This path is less overgrown so easier to walk along although can be incredibly muddy and slippery in wet weather! There are little gaps in the bushes all the way along the river so dogs can easily go for a splash on the river if they choose!
Over the other side of the river are fields as far as the eye can see which very often have cows, sheep or horses grazing in them! Eventually the path will lead to a gate which you’ll need to go through. Keep on the path until you get to a metal gate. To the right are farm buildings so you turn left and then immediately right (go through another metal kissing gate)! Now the river will be on your right hand side and you walk along a narrower path with many nettles either side. Follow the path where it’ll get very overgrown and bumpy until you end up walking away from the river and you now face a field. Turn right and continue walking along the path (sheep may be grazing in the field to the right. The fence has barbed wire on top so I doubt it’ll be possible for dogs to jump over, but I’m sure there used to be gaps along the bottom so just be careful in case you have inquisitive dogs or escape artists!
Eventually the pass takes you up to Otterbourned waterworks. Walk over the bridge until you eventually end up with the river on your left. There are two beautiful big benches directly opposite the river as this is an incredibly popular place to bring dogs on those crazy hot days; the water is shallow enough that the dogs can have a paddle and frolic-just be warned as you might end up surrounded by wet dogs!!
If you wanted to continue the walk then keep walking along the path with the river on your left. It does get deeper and wider so just be careful of your dogs as it’s not so easy to rescue them if you need to! This walk is great in the summer months as not only can the dogs go for a dip but they can also be protected by the shade of the trees the majority of the time-especially once you’re in this part of the walk! There are always swans on the river so again, something to watch out for if your dogs are swimmers!
This path eventually takes you up to some decking area (overlooking some very posh gardens) and then eventually you come out at Kiln Lane. If you wanted to continue the walk you’ll hop, skip and jump over the road (not far from Brambridge) and then carry on into Winchester. I have not done that yet purely because of time pressures but one day I will for sure. To return to the starting point you literally turn around and go back the way you came!
Things to Enjoy on this walk:
1) The peace and quiet:
I have to be honest and say I haven’t brought my kids on this walk yet. I’d worry about the amount of stingers at the beginning part plus it’s quite a long walk. And for selfish reasons, I have to be honest-this is one of my quiet and calming walks. I used to come a lot when I was suffering stress and anxiety and it was the one walk that seemed to ground me and and make me feel at ease. Great place to practise mindfulness as well if you’re into that! In an increasing busy and hectic world, it’s a lovely place to just come and be.
2) You can make the walk as long or short as you like:
The beauty of this walk is that you can extend it or cut it short as much as you like because you just turn around to go back tyhe wat you came, so aren’t relying on walking a loop! Sometimes I have just walked to the Otterbourne waterworks before whereas other times I ahve walked all up to brambridge and beyond.
3) Free parking:
Although the car park is rather dodgy, it is free!
Things to watch out for on this walk:
1) Not wheelchair or pushchair accessible:
This walk is sadly not an accessible walk for those who need support in any way. The overhanging branches, the amount of nettles not to mention the tree rots and bumpy paths make it a walk for the sure-footed only.
2) Lack of bins:
From what I have found so far, there is one poo bin at the foot of Shawford Down right at the beginning of the turning into the car park, but I have yet to find any others.
3) Nettles and stingers:
Not so bad in winter, but the amount of nettles and stingers that overhang onto the narrow path is not ideal.
4) Slippery and muddy:
After heavy rainfall this walk can be treacherous and I would definitely not even contemplate it without a sturdy and grippy pair of wellies!
5) Bumpy road and car park:
The car park is definitely not great as it is absolutely filled with pot holes.
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