Test Way – Eling and Totton

Posted on June 29, 2016

Because I had to do a drop off at Southampton in the early hours this morning, I decided what a great opportunity it would be to complete another section of the Test Way.

I started at the end, if you get what I am saying, driving over the toll bridge at Eling and parking up next to The Anchor pub that looks over a semi-attractive harbour to the right and ugly, heavy industry to the left.

Chuffed at finding part of the Test Way that actually featured the River Test, I marched onwards along the bank, meeting up with an older chap who had a dog that was a similar make to mine (black with floppy ears and an all round over-excitable pain in the arse).

As we walked through the reed bed on a boardwalk, I mentioned that it was really nice to be walking by the actual River Test as the Test Way was often bereft of the river it lends its name to.

“This is the Bartley Water boy, you are in the wrong place.”

Well it says Test Way back there?” I enquired.

“I don’t know why it says that? You can only really pick up the Test Way by the Salmon Leap pub.”

He was a knowledgeable chap, so I decided I would let him take me on a stroll around Eling to the waterfront and I have to say, it was rather a nice stroll, despite the gathering clouds and industrial decline on the horizon.

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After chatting about cricket (all ageing Hampshire blokes love cricket) and dog food, we shook hands and he sent me off in the direction of The Salmon Leap which sounded to me like a quintessential pub with stunning views of the river.

It wasn’t, it was a tired looking estate pub that featured live sports, cheap lager and the prospect of a lively encounter or two. Actually, that is unfair, as I didn’t go in (it was still early) but it had that sort of look.

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The Salmon Leap Public House

Anyway, I found the Test Way sign and followed a single track road passing a few other walkers on the way, one that frantically leashed up his violent looking dog before getting within 100 yards of us. I don’t want to be stereotypical with dog demographics, but in my short time as an owner, it appears you are more likely to meet violent dogs in urban areas.

Then out of nowhere, a bridge over the actual River Test, which may have looked attractive on another day. but with the heavens opening, it appeared a bit grim, especially with a backdrop of electricity pylons.

As I walked onwards and the rain became steadier, there was not a lot to be impressed by unless, as a hobby, you like counting pylons in the rain. This was not one of my most picturesque outings but I had to accept that after all, I was on the edge of industrial Southampton and at least it was a bit different and edgier than the rather pompous village/town of Stockbridge further up the river.

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What was impressive was that at the end of the lane there was a well constructed boardwalk to take you across the cow meadow, which I did with some alarm after being approached by a herd of feisty cows when halfway across it, with my irrepressible dog winding them up more than I would have preferred.

An expert on cows I am not, however, a coward I am, and seeing one that had horns (was it a bull?) sent me into a mild panic. I recently read that getting trampled by excitable cows is not as unusual as you might imagine, with at least a death or two a year. Heroically, I survived this encounter unscathed.

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On my way back to the car, I met an elderly woman who was bathing her two terriers in the river; one was calm the whilst the other was an angry little bastard with a nose for trouble. Fortunately it was just the right size and weight to be wellied into the river without retribution, so I wasn’t scared.

I’m right hard I am.

“Turned out nice again”, I said sarcastically.

“Fucking shit isn’t it”, she cackled with the voice of a million Superkings.

It was the first time I had met a 70 year-old with Tourette’s and  I have to say I was quite taken aback so I moved on quickly, partially shocked but more than a little amused.

So, this was another section of The Test Way,completed and without doubt, with a combination of pylons, grey clouds and driving rain, it was the least picturesque. However, at least I saw the elusive River Test this time, as it is not so fiercely protected by the landowners gun in this neck of the words.

On to Romsey next.

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