The fact that you have landed on our website probably means that you’re interested in escaping to the country for a bit, well you have the right place! The Meon Valley and The South Downs National Park is an excellent place to wear in those walking boots.
I’ve grown up in and around this area so I do somewhat take the countryside for granted. Compiling a list of the places I’ve spent walking with the dog and/or kids has actually proved to be harder than I thought, I guess I just don’t think of going for walks as a formal thing, as it’s always just been on my doorstep.
There’s nothing like just opening the front door and exploring. More often than not around our area, the walk with end up with a cold glass of grown up beverage in your hand and a few extra hours out than you may have originally planned; for me it’s certainly ended this way.
Walks Close By
History of The Meon Valley Railway Line
The Alton to Fareham railway line was closed in 1968, the 11 mile (non circular) remaining stretch between Wickham and West Meon provides a lovely traffic free walk, rich in countryside.
The trail had a £3.81 million face lift in 2015 making it dog, cycling and pushchair friendly, lovely and flat and in some parts a horse riding area.
Meon Valley Railway Line : Walk & Bike Trail
Choose to start your walk at either end of the line, or join somewhere in the middle!
To pick the line up from Droxford walk down to St Marys, the village Church, and walking around to the left to pick up the River Meon. Once you’ve past by the mill house you’ll reach a little bridge (perfect for pooh sticks and a paddle) and you’re onto Mill lane, half way along this lane you’ll see a little single file track up a hill and at the top of this you’re on the trail (if you go too far on Mill Lane you’ll just come out to a road and have the old Hurdles pub in front of you).
Once at the top of this track, taking the path left takes you to Meonstoke and right takes you to Wickham. Either way you choose to take I think you’ll love this walk for the freedom it will give you without a car in sight, knowing you’ll end up at a pretty Hampshire village for an afternoon tea or pint!
If you would like to learn more about the history of the Meon Valley Railway line click here
Railway Cycle Ride Trail
This video gives you a good idea about the accessibility and beauty of the Meon Valley Trail. The ride goes beyond Droxford, to West Meon, but the beauty of the trail is that you can hop off into a village at any time.
Old Winchester Hill
If you want to get your heartbeat up a bit then Winchester Hill from Exton will certainly do that. You can choose to walk it or make it part of your crazy holiday exercise routine – the choice is yours!
Old Winchester Hill is an historic location, at the summit of which is an Iron Age hill fort, to learn more about the history of the hillfort click here
From Droxford I would either suggest;
- continuing on from the above walk towards Meonstoke and Exton and the walk leads up to the Hill (3.5 – 4 hours).
- driving down to Exton, parking up at the carpark on the left and then crossing the road over to the sign for the South Downs Way.
- drive past Exton and hang a right when you see the George & Falcon Pub, follow the road up for about 10 minutes until you reach the carpark up the top of the hill.
Just follow the track that takes you from this point slowly up to the top of the hill. Dogs do need to be kept under control in this area due to grazing farm animals.
There is a lovely Dog Friendly pub in Exton called The Shoe Inn which was so named as it is on the site of the old cobblers, and has a gorgeous river side garden on a warm sunny day. This is an excellent pub to stop at once you’ve earnt those calories 😉
Dark Skies in the South Downs
In 2016 the South Downs National Park became the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR). As Old Winchester Hill is listed as one of the 7 darkest skies in the whole of the South Downs, another way to approach this this walk would be to take it at night and view the simply amazing stars (stargazing is best before a full moon) – remember to take a blanket, a hot flask of something, and to download a stargazing app.
Wayfarers Walk - Droxford to Denmead
The entirety of the Wayfarers walk is 70 miles from Inkpen Beacon, right down to the sea at Emsworth – now, you can take that on – send us some pictures, but the beauty of the Wayfarers Walk is that you can pick it up at many points along this 70 miles, including Droxford.
Here’s a link for the map : Wayfarers Walk Droxford to Denmead
Walks A little Further Away
River Itchen & Water Meadows Winchester
From The Crest, take the Corhampton road to Winchester, turning left at the end onto the A31, at the roundabout take the 1st exit onto Bull Drove and continue straight onto Garnier Road. There are a few free parking area’s along this road and you can access several tracks that follow alongside the river Itchen .
If you’re in Winchester itself, from Winchester Cathedral walk down the right hand side and head across the stunning walled close at the back and under the arch towards College Street, then take a right down College Walk past Wolvesey Castle.
Turn right at the end of College Walk and follow the footpath sign. The water meadows start here, lush with vegetation and wildlife. River Itchen is on the left, follow the footpath along, the college playing fields will be on both sides, you’ll ultimately reach Garnier Rd at the end. The path across the road leads you to Clarendon Way at the old mill, and then towards the architecturally attractive St Cross Hospital, with the river on your right. Carry on walking until you reach a meadow and the Hospital and Church of St Cross, whose medieval buildings and gardens are open to the public. You can take a picnic and many folk splash round and swim in the river in the summer.
Royal Victoria Country Park
Victoria Country Park can be found just before the really lovely and well worth a visit, coastal village of Hamble.
You can easily spend a good few hours at Victoria Country Park in its 200 acres set alongside the waters of the Solent. Along with the Victorian military hospital, tea rooms and miniature narrow gauge railway, there are often events being held there (Music, Christmas markets etc). You can either choose to take up one of their guided walks or take stroll around the park though the woodlands and along the single beach.
Find out more about Vicky Park here
Hill Head and Titchfield Haven
Should you fancy a change from the lush green countryside surrounding The Crest, I would suggest heading 25 minutes down the A32 to Hill Head. From Hill head you can walk right along the coast to the more tourist section of coast, Lee-On-Solent where you’ll find fish n’ chips, and a fun little parade of shops and cafes.
Hill Head is lower key and my favourite spot. Just set back from the coast is a lovely (dog friendly) café called Breezes and in the other direction to Lee-On-Solent is a great flat walk right up to the Titchfield Haven Natural Reserve which covers 369 acres of the Meon Valley. The reserve is a natural habitat of river, fen, pools, reedbed and meadow, giving protection to a range of special wildlife including Water Voles, birds, dragonflies and plants. Please note dogs are not allowed into the reserve.