Distance: 5 miles, Time: Allow 3 hours, Map: OS Explorer OL22 – New Forest

There are many appealing areas of heathland and pine woodland in the south west corner of the New Forest.

And running through them is the Castleman’s Corkscrew.

This was the name given to one of Hampshire’s oldest railway lines which ran from Brockenhurst to Ringwood and on to Wimborne. Completed in 1847 the line was promoted by Wimborne solicitor, Charles Castleman. The ‘Corkscrew’ referred to the circuitous route the line followed.

A link from Ringwood to Christchurch and Bournemouth was built but as the latter grew in popularity a direct line from Brockenhurst to Bournemouth was completed in 1888. Use of the old Castleman route declined, but it continued for almost a further 100 years and was not closed until the mid 1960s as part of the infamous ‘Beeching Cuts’.

Bournemouth Echo:

Today long stretches of the track bed have been retained as walking and cycling routes and the old station at Holmsley is a popular tea room.

This walk follows a particularly attractive section of the line across heathland to the south west of Brockenhurst. It also explores woodlands on each side of the route at Set Thorns Inclosure and Hincheslea Wood.

It starts from the car park at Longslade View on the road between Setley and Burley at Map ref SU 279002. To find it take the road opposite The Filly Inn on the A337 about a mile south of Brockenhurst.

Follow it for half a mile and go beneath two railway bridges. About 400 metres beyond the second bridge turn right along the road to Setthorns and Burley. After approx 500 metres turn right at the sign for Longslade View car park.

From the car park follow the track beyond the vehicle barrier down into the valley.

1. Reach the railway bridge and go left up the slope onto the embankment. Follow the old track bed to the left. The route now has an attractive border of trees, bushes and hedges and there are good views on either side across the valley.

A bridge crosses a gravel track with the car park at Longslade Bottom visible to the left. Pass under a bridge and enter a cutting. Pass beneath a second bridge and about 150 metres beyond arrive at a gate and tarmac drive.

2. Here turn left. Go through another gate with a network of tracks and a caravan camping area beyond.

Follow a clear track around to the right. At the next junction a few metres beyond go right again and continue along the track as it curves left around the edge of the caravan site.

When the track bends sharply to the left look for and follow a clear track, marked as a cycle route, which heads off to the right beyond a vehicle barrier.

This route curves to the left to skirt the woodland edge. As it re-enters the trees an earth path joins from the right. Continue ahead following cycle route 199 to reach a track and fenced clearing on the left. At the end of the clearing reach an earth cross track.

3. From here there are two options. For a shorter and drier route continue ahead along the cycle track to the next cross track to rejoin the walk at Point 6. and turn left along the cycle route.

For the longer walk turn right along a narrow earth path through trees and after 150 metres ignore a path off to the left.

Continue ahead along the narrowing path to reach a T-junction with another earth path. Turn left down to a muddy section beneath several tall beech trees. Follow the path as it curves left and up a gradual incline.

The path widens to reach a clear gravel track. Turn right along the track which heads downhill to a gate.

4. Go through the gate and turn left then sharp left again to keep the Inclosure and old embankment on the left.

The grass area adjoining the path widens. Ignore the first gate back into the woodland and continue to a crossing track.

5. Here turn left through a gate back into the woodland. Follow the clear track and as it curves left ignore paths off to the right. Climb a short incline.

6. Reach a cross track and turn right along the cycle route.

Continue ahead on the cycle track at the next junction and follow it out to a road.

7. Cross the road and go through the Longslade Bottom car park opposite. Follow the track beyond the vehicle barrier and beneath the old railway. Cross the valley bottom and a wet area via a wooden bridge. About 50 metres beyond the bridge fork right along a narrow path which widens as it climbs uphill towards Hincheslea Wood.

At the top and before entering the wood cross an area of grass then follow a track which keeps left of a prominent silver birch tree.

The clear woodland path bears right. After about 200 metres, where there appears to be a fork, take the left hand route. Keep to the path and join another track close to the boundary of a house. Here go right and past the house. The path curves right, down a gradual slope away from a boundary fence.

8. Continue for about 75 metres before turning left along another clear woodland path beneath large beech trees.

Leave the wood and head back across open heath along the path towards woodland. The path bends right as it enters the trees.

9. Go past a white house and turn right, back onto the old railway track bed.

Continue along the track through trees then out across heathland before reaching the bridge that was the start of the walk.

Turn left down the bank and along the path uphill to the car park.