Winchester & central Hampshire
There are welcoming pubs, cosy tea rooms and fascinating towns and villages in this beautiful part of rural Hampshire, set among the rolling hills and chalk streams of the new South Downs National Park.
The market town of Alresford has Georgian houses, riverside walks and specialist shops and is the home of the Hampshire watercress industry, fed by the clear streams of the River Itchen. In May the town hosts the annual Watercress Festival, attracting thousands of visitors.
In Alresford you can hop aboard the Watercress Line steam railway, which also offers year-round specials such as the Real Ale Train and children's events.
Bishop's Waltham is close to the lovely Meon Valley and is home to Bishop's Waltham Palace, founded by Henry of Blois in the 12th Century. The palace hosted many royal visitors, including Henry V, and you can visit the extensive ruins today.
As well as excellent shops, restaurants and a water mill, Bishop's Waltham also has lovely town and country walking trails. Nearby Moors Local Nature Reserve, with its fens, woodland and meadows, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
In Wickham, shops and restaurants nestle among attractive Georgian houses, water meadows and a medieval square. Bere Forest and the old Meon Valley railway line are a lure for cyclists, walkers and horse riders while the superb coastal nature reserve at Tichfield Haven is well worth a visit.
Other attractions include the pretty village of Cheriton, the scene of a ferocious battle between Roundheads and Cavaliers in 1644, the INTECH Science Centre and Planetarium on the outskirts of Winchester, Jane Austen's house at Chawton and fascinating Marwell Wildlife.
A cathedral city on the edge of the South Downs National Park, Winchester is England’s ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great. Today, Winchester combines the best of city life with the...