04 Sep Top spots for walks in Hampshire this autumn
A brisk walk in the crisp autumnal air is a great way to make the most of the transition into winter. While we may need to wrap up a little more, autumn brings with it some of our favourite walking conditions: beautiful low sun, stunning colours and tempting piles of crunchy leaves. Plus, who can resist a game of conkers?!
It’s old news by now but walking is an excellent form of exercise with all round benefits, including supporting cardiovascular and circulatory health. And getting outside gives you a chance to really appreciate nature and watch the wildlife around you (both plants and animals) prepare for the colder months ahead. The following locations are dotted around the county and are perfect for exploring as the seasons change.
North Hampshire: Castle Bottom, near Yateley
This small lowland site is one of the most important valley mires in southern England. In addition to its woodland habitat and important bird populations, the reserve is made up of heathland which is integral to our ecosystem.
Castle Bottom is simply stunning in autumn with lots of impressive and varied wild fungi to spot. Plus, the heathland’s shrubs and bushes are just as striking as the surrounding woodland.
East Hampshire: Ashford Hangers, near Petersfield
Ashford Hangers is the perfect spot to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside – all while being nestled in heavy woodland. Dubbed ‘Little Switzerland’ by locals, the reserve is home to beech, ash and yew, which makes for a stunning autumnal display.
The Hangers also have historical connections with 18th-century naturalist Gilbert White and the poet Edward Thomas. You can find a memorial to Edward Thomas onsite, hidden amidst the beautiful woodland.
Central/West Hampshire: Crab Wood, near Sparsholt
Crab Wood is perhaps best known for its stunning spring bluebells, but the site is equally impressive in autumn. The ancient woodlands of oak, ash, maple and hazel offer many acres to explore and are home to lots of hidden wildlife. During autumn, the trees are extremely impressive with a huge display of golden, orange, red and yellow leaves – perfect for crunching in!
South Hampshire: Hook-with-Warsash, near Warsash
For varied habitats, you can’t beat Hook-with-Warsash. With shingle, grassland, wetland and woodland, this 500-acre reserve is perfect for a coastal autumn stroll. Featuring views across the banks of the River Hamble and Southampton Water, the site is a feeding ground for many species of returning wading birds and wildfowl. The best time to spot these birds is around 2-3 hours before high tide – don’t forget your binoculars!
Where are your favourite spots for an autumn stroll? Share any photos you take (the more golden the leaves, the better!) with us @HampshireCountryside. And let us know any other beauty spots you find this autumn on our Hampshire Countryside Facebook page.