Test Way - Ink Pen to Hurstborne Tarrant

A short history of the Test Way

The Test Way is a 44 mile long-distance walking route. The walk begins high on the chalk downs at Inkpen and follows much of the course of the River Test to Eling. Here the river's tidal waters flow into Southampton Water.

This is Hampshire's longest and finest chalk stream, world famous for its superb trout fishing. The Way has been divided into 8 sections, each providing a really good day-out. Choose between water meadows or tidal marshes, steep hills with exhilarating views or cool peaceful woodland. Or relax in a cosy pub or with a riverbank picnic. The route passes through some of the most picturesque villages in Hampshire, strewn with listed buildings, historic churches and houses. It is well sign posted and waymarked. Horse-riders and cyclists can also use some parts.


    • Route
    • Temporarily closed
    • Restricted use


The Test Way begins high on a dramatic chalk escarpment at Inkpen. From here you can see the bleak downs to the north and the lush plain to the south. On a fine day you may even glimpse the soaring landmark of Salisbury Cathedral’s spire. From here the trail drops sharply to the valley and rises to the small village of Linkenholt.

It then follows farm tracks to the pretty hamlet of Ibthorpe, where Jane Austen was a regular visitor at Ibthorpe House. The path then follows alongside the bed of a winterbourne (a seasonally rising stream) into the village of Hurstbourne Tarrant – a favourite of William Cobbett, author of ‘Rural Rides’.