The New Forest
Inland to the west lies the New Forest National Park, once the royal hunting ground of William the Conqueror and his noblemen and now home to approximately 3,000 wild New Forest ponies, free roaming cattle and wild deer, covering an area of 218 square miles of unspoilt woodland, heathland and river valleys.
Within the New Forest you will also find both Palace House and the British National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, the 18th Century village of Buckler’s Hard and Breamore House near Fordingbridge.
The South Downs
To the east, skirting alongside The Meon Valley, Hampshire boast it’s second national park in the form of the glorious chalk-based South Downs, famed for its stunning landscape, panoramic views and breath taking scenic walks.
Walk, cycle or ride on horseback from Winchester to Eastbourne, to the start of the English channel along the 101 mile South Downs Way and enjoy this wonderful rolling countryside, described by Bill Bryson as ‘some of England’s finest’.
The more modern day city of Southampton lies on the coastal edge of the New Forest National Park and is a bustling container port. It is blessed with a deep natural harbour making it suitable for the largest of ships and tankers, including some of the world’s biggest and luxurious cruise liners.
It was from here that the Titanic set out on its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912 and before that in 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers embarked on their mission to America aboard the Mayflower.
Hampshire’s other major port is Portsmouth and its Historic Dockyard is now home to world famous ships such as The Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior.
Portsmouth is also home to the wonderful Gunwharf Quays and the now iconic Spinnaker Tower, which soars to a height of over 500 feet and offers stunning views over The Solent. For those who dare you can stand over a section of glass floor where you look down below or over the city, alternately hop onto a ferry or hovercraft and pop over to the Isle of Wight.
Winchester, positioned on the edge of The South Downs National Park was legionary King Alfred’s 9th century medieval capital of England and is also famed for it’s historic links to King Arthur.
In the centre of the city is the splendid Medieval Cathedral with it’s Morley Library and Norman crypt. Nearby are the ruins of Wolvesey Castle and the Winchester City Mill, a working 18th-century corn mill and within the Great Hall of Winchester Castle houses the medieval round table linked to the famous King Arthur and his knights.