Hampshire

County: Hampshire

Thatched cottages; crystal clear rivers for fly-fishing; best county going!

About:

You may notice a slightly biased description going on here, because I've lived in Hampshire half my life now. And the town I live in is distinctly dull and plain (albeit the location's good!), but what I'd show you is anything but!

With Southampton on the southern edge of the county, many cruise passengers will pass through with barely a glance on their way to Stonehenge, and similarly, visitors from Heathrow zip along the motorways at its northernmost edge to visit that iconic monument. What you need to do is pause; detour across country and find yourself immersed in the beauty of the Test Valley with its (very expensive, alas) chocolate-box villages full of thatched cottages; crystal clear chalk-based rivers and streams which boast some of the best fly-fishing in the country and contented livestock ambling through pastures and fields. Oh, and many of those fields in the Test Valley are likely to belong to the John Lewis Partnership, who own Waitrose, a superior supermarket chain.

The county town of Hampshire is Winchester - the ancient capital of Anglo-Saxon England with its mediaeval cathedral, and historic city centre which thrives today with a bustling market and a university presence.

One of our best-loved authors - Jane Austen - was born, lived most of her life, died, and is buried in Hampshire. Oh, and where is Downton Abbey located? That's right; Hampshire! Highclere Castle still pulls in the crowds because of that lovely TV series.

Hampshire also boasts one of the most popular areas for holidaymakers in the form of the New Forest (which is ancient!) with its mix of woodland, heathland and marshy areas surrounding pretty villages, and most popular of all, its 4-footed inhabitants, the New Forest ponies.

I adore showing people around my home county; it's not on most people's tourist trail, and so when I do bring people here, it surprises and delights them. They have no idea how beautiful and charming it is, and is favourably comparable to the Cotswolds (I did say I was biased).

Need to know:

  • It's quite a large county but places within it may be suitable for a Heathrow layover
  • The M3 can get very congested especially near the M25 for Heathrow / London and time should be allowed for possible delays.

Options:

Normally combined with Stonehenge, but see separate entries for Winchester, New Forest, Jane Austen and Highclere Castle.