East Hampshire & South Downs
With the spectacular hills of the South Downs and the lovely chalk streams and water meadows of the Meon Valley, East Hampshire has a lot to offer visitors to rural Hampshire. You'll find unspoilt villages, nature reserves and heritage sites, such as Buriton, near Petersfield where Edward Gibbon lived, and the ancient oak forest at Alice Holt woodland park near Bordon.
Hampshire’s South Downs - around Chawton where Jane Austen lived – has quite a different feel from the rest of the new South Downs National Park. With its steep wooded hills and hidden valleys of watercress farms, lavender fields, vineyards, hop gardens and trout-filled streams, its picture-perfect villages and peaceful market towns, this is one of the loveliest parts of rural England.
Hidden away between the cathedral cities of Winchester and Chichester, this is great walking, cycling and riding country. Invigorating long-distance trails and circular routes dip and rise through ancient woodlands, and out on to the tops of the Downs.
The town of Bordon, surrounded by military training land, was recently awarded Eco Town status and is set in the Woolmer Forest, a heathland Site of Special Scientific Interest. Nearby, Birdworld is a great place to take the family, and the Rural Life Centre near Farnham, the largest countryside collection in the south, is a short drive away.
Meanwhile the quaint village of Grayshott is renowned for its pure air, Grayshott Pottery, Grayshott Spa and literary connections. Grayshott has associations with George Bernard Shaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred Lord Tennyson, the actor Colin Firth and author Flora Thompson, of Lark Rise to Candleford fame.
The ancient market town of Petersfield lies within the South Downs National Park and has twice-weekly markets and a vibrant music and art scene. The week-long Petersfield Musical Festival is an annual feature and music, drama and travelling art exhibitions can be enjoyed at Bedales Arts in nearby Steep. And don't miss the Flora Twort Gallery and Petersfield Museum for a taste of local history.
The thriving market town of Alton was built around a wealthy Saxon settlement. Its most famous artefact, the Anglo Saxon Alton Buckle, is displayed along with a Roman cup and other important finds in the town's Curtis Museum while the 11th-Century St Lawrence Church was the scene of a civil war battle.
Alton, at one end of the Watercress Line steam railway, is surrounded by beautiful countryside and long distance footpaths and offers many opportunities for walking and cycling. In Alton you're also very close to Jane Austen's home at Chawton and naturalist Gilbert White's House at Selborne.
The attractive village of Selborne is famous for its association with the 18th Century literary naturalist Gilbert White. His book 'The Natural History of Selborne' records his observations on local animals,...
Set in the glorious countryside of the South Downs, Petersfield is an ancient market town originally built as a Norman 'new town' at the end of the 11th Century. It is now a pleasant place for shopping and...