Start/Finish: Chawton Car Park Grid Ref: SU 70896 37525
Distance: 13 miles (21 Km)
The Writers’ Way is a 13 mile circular trail linking Chawton near Alton to Selborne and the surrounding villages through some beautiful countryside. The route follows paths and rural lanes, ancient sunken tracks, open farmland and woodland.
The trail takes its name from the fact that several famous authors were closely connected to the countryside around here:
- The novelist Jane Austen lived at Chawton between 1809 & 1817. The Austen’s beautifully-decorated house, museum and cottage gardens lie in the heart of the village.
- Ecologist and writer, Gilbert White lived in Selborne and was curate in the local village of Farrindon. His hugely influential book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne – transformed the way we think about the natural world today.
- William Cobbett was born in nearby Farnham to a farming family. He campaigned for better living conditions for rural families and undertook most of his research on horse rides as described in his book ‘Rural Rides’.
The trial was created by a partnereship between Hampshire County Council and East Hampshire District Council. As a result they have produced and excellent webpage called The Writers Way
If you do not wish to do the trail in one go, it has been conveniently split into two walks and the pdf’s can be downloaded here:
I decided to do the trail in one go and chose the hottest late August Bank Holiday on record! Fortunately, there are pubs and stores at Chawton, Alton and Selborne so there is plenty of opportunity for a drink and something to eat.
In, fact when you get to Selborne you can use the Gilbert White House cafe without having to pay to go into the main area. It has a lovely cooling courtyard area with toilets.
Car parking at Chawton is free but you will need to be there early as it very quickly fills up once Jane Austen’s house is open. (GPS Ref GU34 1SE). The car park in Selborne is also free, but the same caveat applies. (GPS Ref GU34 3JR).
The only major downside with the trail is that you have to cross a busy dual carrageway without the aid of a bridge or tunnel. I was OK as I reached the road at about 0900 on a Sunday. However, 2 hours later it would be a very hazardous crossing.
However, the rest of the walk is beautiful. The hollowed droveways and the open country side are breathtaking. There is plenty for everyone on such a short trail. If you get the chance I would certainly recommend the walk, even if you do not have an interest in literature.
Map extract courtesy of