Stage 1: Haslemere to Liphook — Serpent Trail
Alex Foxfield planned a hike.
January 20, 2021
The first stage of the Serpent Trail explores the highest ground in the South Downs National Park: Black Down at 918 feet (280 m). After taking in the views, you head east over Marley and Lynchmere Commons, before ending at the train station in Liphook.
With 11.8 miles (19 km) to cover and 950 feet (290 m) of elevation gain, this is an energetic opening. To shorten, you could head back to Haslemere after Black Down, saving the commons for the next day.
You leave Haslemere and head south east, with Home Wood on your right. From High Barn Farm you make for the pine and heather covered slopes of Black Down. As you pass Barfold Farm, the ascent begins in earnest. You intercept Tennyson’s Lane, before striding out onto the many paths that explore Black Down’s high, wooded plateau.
The views are splendid, particularly south to the ridges yet to come in later stages. From the escarpment’s southern end, you about-turn and head back towards Haslemere, taking a path that slopes diagonally across the hillside to Ridden Corner.
The Commons of Marley and Lynchmere are next. The trails that criss-cross Marley Common’s mix of woodland and open heath are a delightful adventure if you have time. Keep your eyes out for the resident Galloway cattle. Lynchmere Common is home to the adder. Your best chance of an encounter is by heading onto the Commons on sunny, spring mornings.
To end the stage, you make for Liphook station, where you can hop on a train back to Haslemere, or on to Petersfield, where there is plenty of accommodation. Simply return by train the next day to continue your journey. Liphook itself has very limited lodging options, though rooms can be found about a mile and a half down the B2070 Portsmouth Road at the Black Fox Inn, which is handily located on the Trail.
January 26, 2021