Days out in Southern England - Anna Parker
Our resident travel blogger Anna Parker has put together a guide for days out in Southern England. Why not start a list and then next time you have a free weekend, pay one of the destinations a visit.
I will put my hand up as being time poor. The working week is always manic and between my husband and I, we collect a lot of business airmiles so spend a lot of time away. Our weekends are an invaluable time to relax together. Many weekends we’ll find ourselves sailing, but if there’s none planned then we’ll ensure we get to enjoy the great outdoors. We are lucky that from where we live, a run (or let’s be honest, the walk to a local pub) is always along footpaths across the fields. But sometimes it’s nice to go a little further afield, but not need a great deal of planning. I’ve put together here some of our favourite walks:
Farley mount, near Winchester
The views from here are spectacular. We visited around New Year, just when we were planning our house move. There’s plenty of parking all along the Farley Mount Road and I’d suggest parking as soon as you enter the country park. It is a pretty walk through the park before climbing the mount where I’d recommend finding one of the benches and enjoying the view. By chance we were there as the clouds cleared for sunset – it really was beautiful. Another popular walk not far from here is up and around Old Winchester Hill, although the parking is much closer. The sheep that graze the hill are particularly elegant, and despite its proximity to the M3 it feels very remote.
Tanners Lane Beach or Lepe Beach, New Forest
The Solent isn’t well known for beaches, but thankfully there are a couple that are worth a visit. Tanners Lane is our favourite, and it is almost always empty as there is very little parking. It is just down the road from the East End Arms (excellent food) and the salt marsh scenery reminds me of the gorgeous North Norfolk coast. Take a picnic and when you arrive on the beach turn right/west and you can walk for a couple of miles along the shore line before joining up with a more inland footpath that will take you back towards Walhampton. Another favourite is Lepe Beach. Most visitors arrive in the car park and head east, but we nearly always head west. It is similar scenery to Tanners but on a stormy day the walk along the sea wall is fierce!
Cycling from Cowes to Yarmouth
Quite the adventure as for this we caught two ferries (three if you count the Cowes floating bridge) and two trains! I’d suggest arriving in Cowes at breakfast time and stopping in Tiffins for a coffee and a breakfast baguette. Once you are fired up it is a lovely cycle past the Yacht Squadron and round to Gurnard. We stopped here as with the beach huts it is picture postcard with a view across to the New Forest. After Gurnard the route does head inland a little but it is still pretty and the roads aren’t busy. Be sure not to miss Newtown. A cute hamlet with some picture postcard buildings. But our favourite area of the cycle was Newtown Creek. It is stunning, quiet with a few boats and plenty of marine life. It’s also just a mile from where I would suggest the lunch stop – at the New Inn, just across the road from a ‘duck crossing’ sign. Excellent food here, this pub has won a lot of prizes for its food. Their ploughmans in the garden was the perfect pitstop for us. After that, it is just a short ride along the coast to Yarmouth. Plenty of watering holes here while you wait for the ferry back to Lymington. And then train home from there!
Drovers Estate, Chichester, Sussex
West Sussex was a biking discovery a good few years ago but we’ve enjoyed some lovely walks in recently. There’s a route around the Drovers Estate that I found on the National Trust website that I would recommend in the spring – it takes you through prime bluebell and lamb fields. Stunning views of the rolling Sussex Hills. We parked in Singleton – a village after my own heart, it has a road sign dedicated to where the pubs are! It was an easy stroll of a walk with some forest as well as through a nature reserve where we saw deer and sheep. We had planned this walk to eat at The Bluebell in Cocking which is just up the road which is always a good place for some hearty fayre.
The Purbecks, Dorset
This Easter we were looking for somewhere different to go. Neither of us had been to the Purbecks for years. We took ourselves down to Ringstead and walked east along the coast for as far as we could in a day. The coastline here is magical and hilly. Very hilly. But hills mean views and the coastline was twinkling in the sun and the fields were the brightest green. We got as far as Lulworth Cove before we checked our watches and headed back to the car. Many people park at Lulworth or Durdle door and don’t get much further, so the walk itself was very peaceful. We barely saw a soul! Our route back was slightly more inland. Just as pretty but notable for less inclines which meant we made good time getting back to the car!
Dittisham to Sharpham’s, Devon
We are good at sniffing out vineyards and when we stayed in Dittisham, Sharpham’s was only a cycle away. And it offered cheese and wine tasting. It is a very pretty cycle up the river valley and through the (rolling) countryside to Sharpham’s. Devon definitely has a few hills! The prettiest bit of the trip was actually the ride (downhill, yes!) through the estate. You crest the hill at the entranced and are greeted by a spectacular view of the River Dart looking over to Totnes which we stopped to enjoy. There’s so much choice for cycling in this area. It is full of quiet country lanes and if you don’t mind a bit of uphill then you’ll be rewarded at the top!
The Cornish Coast
Cornwall is my favourite place. I have so many wonderful hidden gems that we’ve found as a family over the years. Whether it is a secret beach you can only get to if you’re prepared to put your walking boots on (Portheras Cove, Porth Chapel). Perhaps it’s Poldark scenery? In which case we would head to Porthgwarra which is the cutest fishing village. Or seek out the tin mines of Rinsey, Kenidjack and Wheal Coates. Some of my favourite strolls were recommendations from my Grandpa, Cornish born and breed. The coast from Porthleven to Gunwalloe is very special. With a church on the beach and some fabulous food when you get back to Porthleven. Or perhaps in the spring the coast around Cape Cornwall. It will be full of wild flowers and as it is a headland as you walk a few miles either side the scenery changes rapidly so there’s something for everyone.
Where have I missed? Where would you recommend?