Gin Tasting on the Test (Hampshire) (37092)
"Like taking a stroll through a herb garden on a warm summer’s day. The air is busy with the hum of bees, whose tiny wings gently fan the subtle hints of woody thyme and sweet basil into your waiting nostrils." - The Silverfox's review of Test Valley Gin, 21/03/17
The finest local landscape and liquor will be expertly distilled and subtly blended on this substantial stroll with a bibulous bonus. At the Greyhound Inn in the genteel Georgian town of Stockbridge, we'll have lunch and sample, for free and in the company of the distiller, an exciting newcomer to the artisanal spirit scene: Test Valley Gin. Click 'More' for further information about the best of the Test, its geography and its gin.
River Test: With a total length of 40 miles (64 km) and flowing through downland from its source near Ashe to its estuary at Southampton, the River Test is, in its upper reaches, a chalk stream and one of the finest in the land for fly fishing for trout.
Test Valley: The River Test cuts through a landscape of chalk at Broughton, Houghton and Stockbridge, but also sands and clays near Mottisfont. The former rock creates scenery of familiar broad rolling downs and open fields mostly arable in use, while the latter creates a more intimate landscape of copses and pastures.
Test Valley Gin: This is an London Dry Gin at 37.5 per cent, distilled by local entrepreneur Kate Griffin and infused with herbs sourced on the nearby Leckford Estate. Kate will be present to talk us through the samples, which are free, and offer us a £5 discount on bottles (£29.95 rather than £34.95). Website: http://www.testvalleygin.co.uk/. Review: http://www.silverfoxguide.com/spirits/test-valley-gin
Stockbridge: A small, pretty town developed in a linear way along what is now the A30 as it crosses the Test. Mostly Georgian, it has around twenty buildings listed at Grade II and II* which span the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Mottisfont: A pretty village of brick estate houses gathered around an Augustinian priory converted into a stately home. The gardens are famed for their spacious lawns and fragrant rose beds. We'll be following the Test Way around the back of the house and its gardens.
We'll set out across fields to Mottisfont, then follow a lane to Great Copse, then cross the B3084 and fields to Little Bentley Farm and much later, Roake Farm near Broughton. The fields will get wider until we meet the A31 from which we'll turn to get to Stockbridge for lunch and the gin tasting.
The return route is a simple affair (ideal if we're the worse for wear) as it's along the Monarch's Way/Test Way which follows the route of the old Test Valley branch line, cut in 1967. As we approach the Mottisfont Estate, we'll leave the Test Way and skirt around the grounds of the house before returning, along part of the outward-bound route, to the station.
See the route here: https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/1114570/Gin-Tasting-on-the-Test
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & Drink
Lunch will be at about 14:00, so have a substantial breakfast and bring snacks.
We'll have lunch in the delightful courtyard garden of the Greyhound Inn in Stockbridge. Please see: http://thegreyhoundonthetest.co.uk/food-drink/. I'll take orders two weeks before the walk. You could instead have sandwiches on a bench in the town and then join us for the gin sampling in the pub.
After lunch we'll sample the gin, guided by the distiller Kate Griffin. The samples will be free, but there is the expectation that a few of us will buy some too, especially at the reduced price of £29.95 a bottle.
Meeting & Times
Other Useful Information
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If you are late or lost: Please call or text me, Gavin, on 07944 014620.
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