A short history of the Avon Valley Path
The Avon Valley Path is a 34-mile, long-distance walking route that takes you from Salisbury – one of the most beautiful cathedral cities in England – to Christchurch Priory and the sea. The path opened in 1992 and runs from Wiltshire due south through Hampshire to finish in Dorset. The Path is named after the river whose course it follows. Bear in mind that this route can become seriously waterlogged from December to May.
The Path has been divided into five sections, each providing a really good day out.
- Temporarily closed
- Restricted use
Fordingbridge grew up as a market town on a fording point surrounded by water. Despite this it suffered several devastating fires. It has a magnificent seven-arched stone bridge spanning the River Avon. In the 18th century the town was renowned for its textile industry.
The route passes down the centre of the town and through St Mary’s churchyard, which has some fine examples of medieval craftsmanship. It then heads south along the west bank of the River Avon before looping away past the small hamlets of Harbridge Green and Turmer. Now the path turns east and again crosses the water meadows, which are a conservation area where no fertilizers or pesticides are used. They are a Mecca for naturalists.
Continue onwards to the handsome bridge at Ibsley. Nearby is the 14th century thatched Old Beams Restaurant. The path crosses the main road then leads to Ibsley Manor Farm, returning to the Forest at the village hall. Now it climbs through paddocks to Summerlug Hill. The path turns south through heathland where there are magnificent views of the valley, to Mockbeggar and Moyles Court.
Just past the pub at Rockford, named after Alice Lisle, the path turns off the road onto a bridleway. From here, it leads between the lakes towards Ringwood, following a stream for some of its length. At the end of Kingfisher Lake, the path leads through an estate and continues under the A31 trunk road into Ringwood.