Explore the area around you, following Blackwood Forest walks that start from your cabin doorstep. Pick up a leaflet from the Forest Retreat and take one of the marked paths, from 3.2km to 6km, or wander along one of the many, small, unmarked woodland waalks in Hampshire, including a nature-spotting walk around the meadow. If you are feeling a little more energetic, why not have a go at the Trim Trail, with eight activities along the way.
For walks in Winchester, explore the historic town on Alfred’s Ancient Capital walk. This 5.6km walk starts at the statue of King Alfred, who made Winchester the capital of Wessex. This Winchester walk takes in breath-taking views of the cathedral, riverside, meadows, and the 12th Century Hospital of St. Cross. Also in Winchester is St. Catherine’s Hill, a small hill with lovely views over the town, the River Itchen and part of the South Downs. This is an excellent summer walk, when the wild flowers are alive with many species of butterfly.
The area of chalk downland, ancient woodland and a Local Nature Reserve covered by Farley Mount Country Park is ideal for a walk with a picnic. The white pyramid-shaped folly, which stands above the area is a monument to a race horse called Beware Chalk Pit. The race horse went on to win a racing victory in 1734 just a year after falling into a chalk pit. Farley Mount walks boast fantastic views across central Hampshire and the South Downs making it an ideal trail.
The North Wessex Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the easy 3km walk around St Mary Bourne gives you an insight into how the landscape was formed and why it has the AONB designation. Walking up the sides of the valley, the lanes and tracks you see are remnants of a medieval ladder farming system. At the top of the hill, the view back is of a picture-perfect English village, complete with bowling green, stone church and thatched roofs. The other must-do walk in the North Wessex Downs takes in Watership Down, an area made famous by the novel, which also offers stunning views from the ridge at the top.
The Itchen Way is a 52km walk along the length of the River Itchen. To keep it local, take the 8km stretch from Itchen Abbas, arriving at Winchester in time for a well-deserved lunch. Enjoy sightings of all kinds of wildlife along the route as you follow the crystal-clear waters though the Hampshire countryside.
There are many beautiful walks in the South Downs National Park, most based around the South Downs Way, a 160km National Trail which stretches from the cathedral city of Winchester to Beachy Head at Eastbourne, almost all of which is off-road. Here are two circular walks, around Buriton and East Meon, near to Winchester, that offer highlights including the Norman church at East Meon, the clear, chalk-filtered waters of the Meon River, and the wildlife havens created by the regeneration of the old chalk pits. The Buriton walk is 5km and the East Meon Walk is a more challenging 13km.
The first two sections of the South Downs Way take you from Winchester to Old Winchester Hill via Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve, a distance of 25km. Head out from Winchester into the gently rolling hills and up to Cheesefoot Head, where you can see out across the Solent to the Isle of White. The trail crosses the Meon Valley and takes you up into the Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve, where you are rewarded by sweeping views across the valley. The wildlife is spectacular on this stretch too. Drop down into the valley before beginning the next climb to Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve, with a fine example of an Iron Age hill fort and more stunning views back to Beacon Hill.
Extras & Activities
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