For the next 1.75 miles (2.75km) both the original single track and the later doubled railway were built on the canal alignment apart from easing a reverse curve north of Hooper’s Bottom. The canal and its replacement railway continued south along the modern Trafalgar Way, initially using the grassy verge on the west side of the road. After some 150 yards (133m), the road turns right but the canal carried straight on. Initially the modern path, the Test Way, is narrow as part of the width of the transport corridor has been incorporated into the gardens of houses in Trafalgar Way.
After another 300 yards (275m), on the west side of the path, is the northern access to Common Marsh. This is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and owned by the National Trust. Beside the River Test, it has wetland habitats including marsh, fen, carr, alluvial meadows and a large shallow lake. The marsh has a rich variety of flora, with 180 species of flowering plants and is a haven for various bird and insect species. On the east side of the Test Way is a NT car park at The Lion’s Den NG Ref: SU357346. WGS84: 51° 06′ 36″ N, 1° 29′ 26″ W..
About half a mile (0.8km) south of The Lion’s Den, the site of Marsh Court Lock is passed. The exact location of the the lock is uncertain but it was probably several hundred yards south of Marsh Court Cottages Approximate position NG Ref: SU354338. WGS84: 51° 06′ 10″ N, 1° 29′ 41″ W.. The 7 feet (2.1m) step in the canal at the lock would have been “smoothed out” during the construction of the railway, making it difficult today to find where it was.
As Hooper’s Bottom is approached, around three quarters of a mile south of the lock site NG Ref: SU351325. WGS84: 51° 05′ 28″ N, 1° 29′ 56″ W., there is access through a gateway to a lane called Cow Drove Hill which leads to the village of Kings Somborne just over a mile to the south-east.
Hooper’s Bottom to Horsebridge
Hooper’s Bottom is a small side valley in the hills that form the east side of the Test Valley. These hills have run nearly parallel to the former canal since leaving Stockbridge but come closer here. The railway marched across the entrance to the Bottom in a low straight embankment but the earlier canal made a slight deviation about 250 yards (230m) long and up to 20 yards to the east NG Ref: SU351323. WGS84: 51° 05′ 21″ N, 1° 29′ 59″ W.. The remains of this earthwork can still be seen. The hill on the south side of Hooper’s Bottom is known as Yew Hill. The canal and the original single track railway went round Yew Hill but when the line was doubled in the early 1880s the side of the hill was cut away by up to 30 yards in order to reduce the sharpness of the bend. A flat area exists between the two alignments but this is becoming obscured by trees and bushes.
South of this deviation, the railway alignment is today used as a roadway providing access to the fishing lakes of John O Gaunt’s Fishery which lie to the west of the Test Way. After about 300 yards (275m), the Test Way is crossed by the Clarendon Way (a path linking the cathedrals at Winchester and Salisbury) and is joined from the west by the Monarch’s Way (a 583 mile (938km) path based on the lengthy route taken by King Charles II during his escape to Shoreham-by-Sea after his defeat by Cromwell at Worcester in 1651).
The Test Way and the Monarch’s Way both follow the course of the railway to Horsebridge and beyond. However, after about 900 yards (820m) the canal turned quite sharply left NG Ref: SU346307. WGS84: 51° 04′ 31″ N, 1° 30′ 24″ W. just before it would have had to cross a side stream of the River Test known as the Park Stream. The railway crossed this stream twice but by deviating from the straight line the construction of two canal aqueducts had been avoided. Almost immediately the canal passed through Chalkhill Lock of which there are scant remains. It is said that during conversion of the waterway to a railway many bricks from the canal’s structures were reused. However, the lock is listed by Historic England as a Scheduled Monument (number 227837).
After leaving the lock the line of the canal swings in an arc through about 90 degrees keeping the Park Stream on its right. Today part of this line is used as a track to gain access to fields to the north and east of the canal. This track emerges onto the road from the village of Houghton beside the John of Gaunt public house (formerly The Railway Inn) at Horsebridge where there was once a bridge under the road.
Horsebridge Station is situated on the west side of the hamlet of Horsebridge and catered for the village of Houghton to the north-west and King’s Somborne to the east both about 1¼ miles (2km) away. After the railway was closed in 1964, the station was abandoned for some 21 years but since then it has been restored to look like a Victorian station. During the abandonment the signal box was dismantled and taken away by persons unknown. A replacement was sought and an example from Yalding in Kent was erected at Horsebridge. The station is now used as a wedding venue.
Opposite the John Of Gaunt pub, there is car parking off the station approach road with access to the Test Way. The long distance path is diverted from the railway alignment for about 170 yards (155m) around the west side of the station only a few yards from the platforms.
The canal, after passing under the road next to the public house, ran along the north side of the hedge/fence between the station area and Horsebridge Farm to the south. The 1895 revision of the local Ordnance Survey 1:2500 mapping shows that a railway siding extended along the canal’s route to within yards of the road near the then Railway Inn. The position of Horsebridge Lock is uncertain but it was probably along the fence between the station and Horsebridge Farm Approximate position NG Ref: SU344303. WGS84: 51° 04′ 17″ N, 1° 30′ 35″ W..