The Writers' Way - Chawton to Selborne

The Writers’ Way is a 13 mile trail linking Alton to surrounding villages through some beautiful countryside; it is open to walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. The route uses a mixture of paths and rural lanes with generally gentle gradients, at times on age-old sunken tracks and at others on paths over open farmland or through woodland.

Several famous authors were closely connected to the countryside here, hence the route’s name:

  • The novelist Jane Austen lived at Chawton and was very familiar with the surrounding countryside, taking regular walks with her family and friends. The Austen’s beautifully-decorated house, museum and cottage gardens are well worth a visit
  • Gilbert White lived in Selborne; his detailed wildlife observations and fascination with nature transformed the way we think about the natural world today. Today, there’s lots to see in this appealing village nestled among the woodland hangers
  • William Cobbett was born in nearby Farnham to a farming family; self-educated, he campaigned for better living conditions for rural families and as research he undertook long rides on horseback through the countryside, as described in his book ‘Rural Rides’

For a day out with a difference, walkers and cyclists can return to their start point using the Watercress Line steam railway.


    • Route
    • Temporarily closed
    • Restricted use


From Chawton the route uses a short section of lane, an underpass under the dual carriageway (cyclists please dismount here) and then it turns sharp left onto a track up to the leisure centre. Through Alton the route is on road/pavement; leaving the centre of the town it follows the road up and over a fairly steep hill, down the other side and back under the dual carriageway (take care here) then immediately right onto a small lane. You are then on a mixture of gently undulating tracks and rural lanes all the way to Selborne, travelling through farmland and woodland.

The first of these is Watery Lane - it has partly been resurfaced but as its name implies it sometimes carries a stream. This means that at the northern end the surface is uneven and after rain the water can be a foot or more deep. At such time walkers may wish to use a footpath which runs alongside Water Lane on the edge of the golf course; an alternative route for cyclists starts from Alton (shown on the map in pink dots).