Hampshire, county of downland and the New Forest, ports of Southampton and Portsmouth and the old capital of England, Winchester. A captivating county in all its seasons, wiles and nuances.
Rolling chalk downs, clear chuckling streams in delightful valleys. Cottages that seem to be part of the ground from which they were built, their thatched roofs making chocolate box pictures. Villages strung along those winding narrow lanes that beg exploration.
The New Forest now a National Park is an area of beautiful forest and heathland. Ponies graze on the roadside, there are no fences throughout the forest. Deer are plentiful, but very shy during the day. A large area of nearly 225 square miles it encompasses several towns and villages.
Southampton from which the name Hampshire derives, is a large city port in the south of the county. Famous as the port from which those luxury Cunard liners left for America. Southampton Water is the estuary for two chalk rivers, the renowned trout stream, the River Test, and the River Itchen.
Portsmouth, affectionately known as Pompey, is a major Royal Navy port. The headquarters of the D Day landings of World War II were at Southwick House to the north of the town. Portsmouth is home to “HMS Victory”, Nelson's flagship in the Historic Dockyard, which also houses the “Mary Rose” and “HMS Warrior”. Both Charles Dickens and Isambard Kingdom Brunel were born in Portsmouth.
Winchester, once the capital of England, is a picturesque city on the River Itchen which meanders along near the magnificent Cathedral. King Alfred with his sword arm raised stands guard over the High Street. At the opposite end rises Winchester Castle, although now only the ancient Great Hall remains. It is now a museum and a 'copy' of King Arthur's Round Table adorns the wall.
Jane Austen was born in the small
village of Steventon, near Basingstoke, in the north of the county. She
is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Andover is a pleasant market town in the North Downs with a wide High Street, where the market is held, is dominated by the Guildhall. A summer evening stroll along the banks of the River Anton is pleasant. The area itself goes back to prehistory, visit the Iron Age Museum in Church Close.
Romsey set in the lovely Test Valley is a pretty market town with an Abbey. Walk along the river. Take a free bus ride on a Sunday or Bank Holiday Monday round the Test Valley.
Petersfield centre of an Area of Outstanding Beauty on the south downs. Easy to get to by road and rail. The town itself is attractive. Queen Elizabeth Country Park is nearby. High Street has a recreation of a 17th century herb garden which is open to the public.
Lymington on the edge of the county, the New Forest and the Solent, it is a lovely Georgian town. A ferry runs from the town to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. There are some designer shops for the shopaholic. Sailing enthusiasts will know all about Lymington!
Fareham close to Portsmouth. It is an expanding town still. Big Shopping Centre, plenty of areas to eat and drink, plenty of parking.
Farnborough Home of the famous Air Show held every two years. Aircraft are very much part of Farnborough. It is ancient as well as modern for it was founded in the Saxon era. the Abbey was built in the late 1800's by the French Empress Eugenie for her husband's burial. He was Napoleon III, he, his wife and son rest in the Crypt.
The county has some lovely walks. Why not take the Test Way from Inkpen in Berkshire to Eling near Southampton along the valley of the pretty River Test. The footpath goes through a pub's grounds in Longparish, time it for lunch! Or you could walk in the New Forest. Why not in the Petersfield region an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. May be across the North Downs. Spoiled for choice in this county.
Once again one is spoiled for choice in this enchanting county. There are four Sustrans routes: NCN routes 2, 22, 23 and 24. A couple of excellent long routes, The National Byway and the South Down Way. A couple of shorter routes: The East Hampshire and Lindford to Alice Holt. Test Valley Tour Routes from Challenging to Easy. Off Road routes for all levels of experience. And of course why not cycle in the New Forest, There is a route there which finishes on the Isle of Wight, includes the ferry, naturally!
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There are some delightful cottages around the county. Probably one near where you would love to stay.
Want a cute car? Large car? Small car? Whatever you need you will find it here. You will probably find your favourite car hire firm here and Car Rentals do not add a penny to their price for looking all over for you!
If you do decide the leave the car at home and help the environment too, why not go National Express They run coaches all over the country. Some pretty good fares too.
Just imagine - sit back and relax, no hassling with the traffic!!!
Do you know that you can book on your mobile phone and they will send the ticket as a text!!!!
Virgin Trains is an excellent main line railway.