A circular walk along one of Southampton’s many ‘hidden’ streams
The walk starts at (1), which is on-street parking in Bluebell Road on the Flowers estate, best accessed via Tulip Rd at St Albans Church on Burgess Road. There is a roundabout-type junction at the top of Lobelia Road as it descends into the Daisy Dip where street parking is also available.
There are several points of entry to the ‘Daisy Dip’ recreation ground from here, all of which are surfaced paths leading past a well-equppied and fenced play area for young children.
Follow the path to the play area, and the cross up the slope ahead across an area of open grassland. You will see Bassett Wood directly ahead, along the front of which is a footpath and cycleway that runs downhill from left to right. Halfway along is a large signpost marking the start of the Bassett Wood Greenway (2). Take the steep path here down to your right. This was once surfaced, but is now mostly gravel, broken tarmac and soil.
Bassett Wood Greenway
Keep to the left (south) of the stream when you get to the bottom of the slope. There are numerous options here and the return route comes back on the other side. The path is broad and easy to see, and for a short distance it follows the stream that runs behind garden fences. There are several good points of access to the water, which is clean and shallow for a good paddle in wellies.
For the next 500m or so, this path meanders along beside the stream, through woodland with rhodendendron, all beeches and mixed vegetation. There are snowdrops, daffodils and wild garlic. At some points, the path cross the stream, and most of the way the waterway will now be on your left. It remains mostly very shallow throughout, and you can see where various generations of children have built dams and played games.
The opposite bank is quite steep and mostly inaccessible, but there are two or three really good points to cross over and run down again, either jumping the water at the end or crossing via makeshift bridges and ropeswings.
Be aware that at some points the path divides to go round different trees etc, and in places it can be a little steep and VERY muddy in wet weather. Look out along the way from Treecreepers, Long-tailed and Coal Tits, Nuthatches and Jays. You may even here woodpeckers drumming in the spring.
After 500m or so, the stream becomes less evident as it passes through an indistinct area of marshland and squidge, where invasive plants like Skunk Cabbage (lysichiton americanus) proliferate in summer and the banks on both sides get steeper. You can see houses above you away to the left as the path emerges onto a marked cycleway that traverses the valley. The woodland continues on the other side of this cycleway, but it is inaccessible and not recommended as there are no paths and no way through.
Instead, turn right onto the cycleway for a short distance and you will see several large Redwood trees adorned with a wide variety of bird feeders (3).
These attract lots of tits and finches, and thrushes especially in the colder winter months as well as more familiar garden birds all year round.
Before the exit onto Redwood Rod, you will see a wide pathway going up hill to the left, passed a garage and a couple of sheds. Proceed up here and you will emerge at a manicured laurel hedge on the pavement in Bassett Wood Road. Slightly to your left you will see a Public Footpath sign indicating a short cul-de-sac opposite that you should cross over and walk into.
It gets interesting here (4) because the road both looks and feels private as the tarmac road gives way to a wide gravel driveway. There are private houses on both sides and straight ahead, but look out for a gate in the hedge and proceed through here, in the same direction as the road behind you. The grass beneath your feet for the next 50m is well kept and does rather feel like someone’s lawn, but you are at liberty to walk through the iron gates at the end (it opens on the left side) and emerge – carefully- onto the pavement in Bassett Green Road.
The house you have just passed is North Lodge, a former gatehouse and from this side, the gates look imposing. Like me, you will have driven past them many times and not realised there was a public thoroughfare, but closer inspection does reveal an overgrown and decaying Public Footpath sign pointing back where you have just been…
The Other Bit of wood
Now the fun part… On the opposite side of Bassett Green Road (which is the busy A27) is a large but untidy laurel hedge marking the boundary of a mixed rhododendron, beech and pine copse that lies beyond and shields the house of Bassett from the motorway. It appears inaccessible, but that inspired me to look closer. A driveway on the left is private, but the gardens are clearly fenced from the woodland. Directly opposite the North Lodge gate is a hole in the hedge (5)…
Crossing the road is perilous and needs to be carefully undertaken, and there is no path on the other side, which is very important when emerging the other way. Proceed with haste and caution and it is possible to go directly into the woodland for a good climb on the fallen trees or a game of hide-and-seek in the variosu dens and bushes
There are no paths in this area and it is not easy to wander around, but that makes it more fun… be careful though as the M27 motorway lies beyond the perimeter fence. It is not possible (at least I couldn’t see a route) through and out to the right, further down Bassett Green Road, so the best option seems to be back out through the hole in the hedge, proceeding with extreme caution back to the North Lodge gates.
Walk from here for 200m or so to the first junction on the right, and turn into Bassett Green Drive which is a very steep road with some impressive properties on either side. Descend the hill to the T-junction at the bottom and turn left along Bassett Green Close.
Most of the houses along here are single storey and you can see the wood you previously walked in at the bottom of the gardens, but be aware there is no access anywhere along this road so you need to keep to the pavement. At different times of the year, various houses have goods for sale – either plants, apples or vegetables. I forget the number, but one property on the left (6) has a sign outside indicating that they sell local honey…
Bassett Green Village
It seems quite a long road, but at the end, turns sharply left uphill for a short distance back on to Bassett Green Road, keeping right. It is only a few meters from here (past the bus stop) into the original Bassett Village on the right hand side, formerly a tiny hamlet at the south end of the Stoneham estate. Walk in here and follow the row of thatched cottages down the slope to your right, signposted The Orchard. The road becomes a footpath very quickly as it descends past the village green, and just past the last house you will see a Public Footpath sign on the left indicating the way ahead between two long garden fences (7). Take this footpath steeply down the hill and it leads to a private road which you need to cross. Directly opposite is a path back to the original stream, on the opposite bank to the point at which you first entered the woodland
I hope you enjoy this walk.
Great for children and dogs – allow 1.5 – 2 hours