Hampshire is a county of gentle rolling hills, typical English villages and ancient forests. It is easily accessible within an hour by train from London.
Winchester, once the capital of England, rewards an unhurried visit, with its concentration of centuries of history. The City, its Cathedral and watermeadows and the villages of the Itchen and Test valleys, especially Wherwell, are beautifully preserved. The classic chalk streams of the Itchen and the Test, provide fine trout and salmon fishing. Together with the River Meon, which Izaak Walton fished, these rivers are significant factors in this characteristically southern English scenery.
Southampton and Portsmouth are thriving cities, which owe their prosperity to their coastal location. Southampton is the home of the ocean liner, which was created little more than a century ago, due to the combination of docks, which have four high tides daily and an early railway link to London. However, its maritime history is longer than this. The Pilgrim Fathers set off from here in 1620 on The Mayflower, to settle in America. The ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic to New York, started from Southampton in April 1912. Portsmouth has been a naval centre for centuries. The first dry dock in the world was built here in 1495 and now the naval dockyards extend over 300 acres. Horatio Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, is open to the public, which remains almost unchanged since the Battle of Trafalgar.
The New Forest is a distinct entity with its own customs and Court. Although a favourite for visitors who come to see the wild ponies, few venture into the huge stretches of the Forest, accessible only on foot. The New Forest towns of Lyndhurst and Lymington, with its thriving yachting community and the village of Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River, where many of Nelson’s ships were built, are all full of interest.
The Isle of Wight is a favourite holiday island with good hovercraft and ferry services from Portsmouth and Lymington. It has a remarkable variety of scenery, with sandy beaches and the chalk stacks of the Needles, below Tennyson Down. The Down is named after Alfred Lord Tennyson, who lived at Freshwater for thirty years.
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