This path dates back from the 10th century as does the Magan (bank and ditch) to its right hand side which was the boundary of the Saxon parish of Warblington. This was 100 years before the Norman conquest of 1066. For the next 600 years it was a main route into Rowlands Castle which was at that time just a meeting point of similar ‘highways’. Their main purpose would have been for the movement of cattle to pasture. It was a Drift or Drove road.
By the 17th century the movement of cattle was more controlled and at the Whichers Gate road entrance to the bridleway is the site of Whichers Gate, which was exactly that – a gate where a toll was payable for access to Emsworth Common for the grazing of such cattle.
Up to the end of the 18th century there was a twice yearly market at Rowlands Castle, by then a sizable village. Why this route remained a path and not a road as we know it may be due to other roads becoming more popular with housing along them.
Today it serves as a bridleway and is a beautiful, scenic alternative route for access into Rowlands Castle from Whichers Gate Road. Look out for the boundary stone marked 1871.
Information supplied by Hants and WS Borders Bridleways Group and Veolia Environmental Trust in conjunction with Hampshire County Council.