The rolling hills of Hampshire offer gloriousÂ walking and hikingÂ opportunities with stunning views, pretty villages and ancient landmarks. The predominantly chalkland downs give rise to crystal clear streams and rivers as well as rare species of wildlife, making walks a true joy.
There are countless cycling routes in this idyllic part of the country, from circular routes in and around Winchester to longer distance trails across the downs. And thatâ€™s before you begin to explore the New Forest!
Blackwood Forest is just 40 minutes fromÂ Peppa Pig WorldÂ at Paultons Park. Little ones will adore this dedicated theme park, complete with Peppaâ€™s house, andÂ Paultons Family Theme ParkÂ itself has plenty more for all the family. For adventurers, meet rare birds, feed the penguins and hunt for dinosaurs atÂ Birdland, or head toÂ Marwell Zoo, to see over 180 exotic and endangered species in 140 acres of parkland. Or, if prefer puzzle-based escape rooms, tryÂ Exciting EscapesÂ which have two locations in nearby Basingstoke. And donâ€™t missÂ Beaulieu, in the heart of the New Forest National Park it houses the National Motor Museum. Marvel at the world's largest official collection of original James Bond cars, a host of vehicles from TVâ€™s Top Gear challenges, and Ron Weasley's 'Flying' Ford Anglia.
The thrills of the capital city are just one hour away by train from the local station, Micheldever. Spend the day seeing the sights ofÂ LondonÂ before heading back for a peaceful night in the forest. More locally, while away an afternoon in the pretty Test Valley town ofÂ StockbridgeÂ or explore the cathedral city ofÂ Winchester, where you can eat out at the first Rick Stein restaurant to be opened outside Cornwall. A 40-minute drive brings you toÂ Salisbury, with perhaps the finest medieval cathedral in the country. Or, if the coast is calling, head for â€˜the great waterfront cityâ€™ ofÂ Portsmouth, a vibrant and modern city with a fascinating naval history.
Blackwood Forest is close enough to the south coast for an enjoyable day at the seaside. All the attractions ofÂ Bournemouth, one of Englandâ€™s best seaside resorts, are just one hourâ€™s drive away. A completely different experience awaits at Portsmouth, where you can explore theÂ Historic Dockyard. Catch theÂ Isle of WightÂ Ferry from Southampton for a sun-filled, fun-filled day on the Island, or stay on the mainland and visitÂ Milford on Sea, another, quieter option, for a more old-fashioned seaside experience â€“ and a dog-friendly beach.
Alice Holt ForestÂ is full of exciting outdoor adventures, from bushcraft and woodcraft activities to the treetop thrills ofÂ Go Ape. For more forest based adventures,Â The New ForestÂ is just 30 minutes away and we recommend a guided walk to learn about its history, geology, wildlife and folklore â€“ look out for the famous New Forest ponies too! Get close to nature atÂ Hawk Conservancy Trust, where you can watch and meet birds of prey in their 22-acre woodland and wildflower home. For anglers, the peacefulÂ Rooksbury Mill Local Nature ReserveÂ in the Test Valley has day passes and a good range of species. Itâ€™s also a lovely spot for walks and is pushchair and wheelchair accessible.
A few drops of rain wonâ€™t spoil a great holiday in this part of the world. Take to the indoor slopes atÂ SkiplexÂ in Basingstoke, 20 minutes from Blackwood Forest, or head south to theÂ Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where you can see the new Mary Rose Museum, HMS Victory and many other ships and exhibits that tell the story of Englandâ€™s maritime past. The Motor Museum atÂ BeaulieuÂ is another great rainy-day activity and so isÂ Blenheim Palace, although you may not appreciate the full splendour of the gardens on a wet day. For the adults, a tour of theÂ Bombay Sapphire Distillery, just seven miles away, should definitely be on the agenda.
Forest Ranger, Blackwood Forest