Official Tourism Website for Hampshire
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Central and East Hampshire is home to the historic city of Winchester, it has 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.
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.
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.
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.
Winchester's attractions form the cultural and historic heart of Hampshire but there's also plenty to see in the surrounding countryside.
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 Titchfield 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 Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium on the outskirts of Winchester, Jane Austen's house at Chawton and fascinating Marwell Wildlife.
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.
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