Six super fun ways to enjoy Hampshire’s countryside this summer

Six super fun ways to enjoy Hampshire’s countryside this summer

This summer marks a great opportunity to explore and appreciate our nearby surroundings. Think of it as a mini staycation, as local as you can get!

In this month’s blog post, we’ve got six must-do activities to experience our country parks this summer. Plus, there’s our expansive rights of way network too.

(Our top tip: these activities are often best enjoyed first thing in the morning, or later in the afternoon, when the parks are quieter and the sun is less intense.)

Follow the Lepe Loop at Lepe Country Park

We love the Lepe Loop! This five-mile walk is a firm favourite with our visitors as it features stunning sea views and picture-perfect countryside, making it an amazing way to enjoy fresh sea air from the heart of the New Forest. Grab a guide from reception (or if you’re feeling brave, follow your nose!) and embrace this terrific mini trek.

Want more inspiration?

  • The Lookout is our popular restaurant – great for a beachside breakfast or afternoon treat.
  • If you’re looking to relax, we love watching the sun set over the Solent.
  • Get up early during a low tide to encounter waders having their breakfast on the Solent – listen out for the Oyster Catchers’ ‘peeping’ call on the morning shore.
  • Become an Environmental Champion. Perfect for the whole family, activity packs cost £1.50 and provide loads of suggestions for nature-loving families keen to explore the park this summer.

 

Make some farmyard friends at Manor Farm

Manor Farm is a must visit if you’re an animal lover. Whether you want piglets, calves, chicks or goats, we’ve got them all! And with our spring new-borns teetering into teenagerhood, it’s a great time to watch them grow up before your eyes. Plus, selfies with animals are always a hit on Instagram. (It can’t have been just us thinking it…)

Want more inspiration?

  • River Hamble Country Park is just down the road and has an extensive rights of way network to explore, offering lovely farmland and woodland walks with beautiful views of the river.
  • The park has large fields which are perfect for picnics (Barnfield Kiosk is open daily from 10am to 4.30pm), BBQ hire and dog walks.
  • If you’re an early riser, we recommend coming along to give birdwatching a go – there’s plenty of wildlife to spot in the mornings.
  • There’s also a Grace Dieu trail to follow for those wishing to explore the site’s history.

 

Delve into Victorian history at Royal Victoria Country Park

You really can’t miss Royal Victoria Chapel if you visit this country park. This impressive building is the last remaining feature of the old military hospital which was once one of the biggest in the world. With links to Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale, it’s an amazing piece of British history waiting to be explored. See what you can discover yourself or grab one of our guidebooks for a detailed history of the site.

Want more inspiration?

  • With a military hospital onsite, it makes sense to have a military cemetery too. The cemetery is tucked away from the main site but it’s well worth the walk to find its many war graves. Plus, it offers a moment of solitude. (It’s much less morbid than it sounds!)
  • The park’s main field, with views across the Solent, makes a lovely spot for a picnic, BBQ (available for day hire) or even a yoga session.
  • There’s a children’s activity trail running all summer. Purchase a booklet from reception.

 

Bike down Butser at Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Queen Elizabeth Country Park is THE place to go for cycling. Whether you’re a novice or a natural, it’s a great place to explore. And there are plenty of trails across the park to suit all abilities. The park’s crowning jewel is Butser Hill with views worth the cycle up. Plus, you can’t help but smile on the journey back down.

Want more inspiration?

  • To enjoy the park at its calmest, we recommend a morning walk through the forest – take in the peace and quiet as the woodland wakes up around you.
  • Try and spot glow worms (yes, we really have them!) or moths on an evening walk – simply bring a torch and see how many you can attract.
  • If you’re planning to watch the sunset from Butser Hill, stay past sundown and give stargazing a go. The South Downs National Park is a top spot for stargazing, with minimal light pollution. You’ll find Orion and the Big Dipper in no time!

Take in the stunning scenery at Queen Elizabeth Country Park

 

Join the twitchers at Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve

You don’t have to be an avid birdwatcher to enjoy Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve. This hidden gem is perfect if you want to give birdwatching a go. It’s an amazing way to connect with nature and push the stress of life aside from the comfort of a hide. And there’s also something really satisfying about being able to recognise a bird from its plumage and song, so what better time to start?

Want more inspiration?

  • The reserve offers a great day out with stunning views of the Solent as well as expansive wetland home to lots of fabulous wildlife (not just birds!).
  • The nearby beach is also lovely for a walk and is a real well-kept secret – sorry locals!

 

Channel your inner explorer at Staunton Farm

Being part of the original Staunton Estate, Staunton Farm is a site with a difference. While you’ll find the usual farmyard faces, there’s also an ornamental garden, butterfly houses and Gothic Tower. All of this beautiful architecture is dotted around the site if you fancy exploring a piece of Staunton Farm many often miss.

Want more inspiration?

  • Why not stop in the newly refurbished Farmyard Café for an afternoon bite before catching the animals’ second feed of the day? We need our farm fix too!
  • Across the road, Staunton Parkland is a site rich in heritage. Once home to Sir George Staunton, the park has recently undergone a restoration project, thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding. We recommend simply wandering the parkland to uncover some of its secrets.

 

In this summer of staycations, why not explore your local area for a taste of adventure on your doorstep? We may be a little bit biased, but we think our sites showcase some of Hampshire’s finest scenery. Tag us in your photos @hantscountryside and use the hashtag #GetAwayFromItAll to share your snaps with us.

Our sites have adopted measures to ensure everyone’s safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find up-to-date guidance on our websites.