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8 pretty circular walks in Hants and IoW

Time to get outside! Stretch your legs and strike out on one of these circular walks in the countryside and along the coast.

Winchester Circular Walk. Moderate. 5 Miles.

The Hospital of St Cross Winchester
Image credit: Neil Howard

This circular walk starts and finishes at Hockley Viaduct, which has been disused since the 60s (you can’t miss it). Head up The Itchen Way footpath, along the River Itchen and up to Iron Age fort Catherine’s Hill. From here you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the city, so if you can time it around sunset and take a picnic and glass of something fizzy, all the better! The walk returns via The Hospital of St Cross, nestled in the water meadows alongside the river. Route here.

East Meon & Butser Hill. Moderate. 8.1 Miles.

East Meon, Hampshire
Image credit: Herry Lawford

This route starts at The Sustainability Centre which is located on the South Downs ridge above East Meon. From here you head through the picturesque village of East Meon and up Butser Hill, one of the highest points in Hampshire. From the flat summit of the nature reserve you’ll enjoy panoramic views over Sussex, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Route here.

Jane Austen Circular Walk. Easy. 4.5 Miles.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

Literary fans will love this easy walk in the village where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. Chawton lies a mile southwest of Alton and this circular walk starts at her 17th century house (which is now Jane Austen’s House Museum). Follow her footsteps through fields into the village of Farringdon and keep your eyes peeled for any wet-shirted men popping up. Route here.

St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight. Easy. 2 Miles.

St Catherine's Lighthouse Isle of Wight
Image credit: National Trust

Island life! Breathe deeply as you enjoy dramatic panoramic views of the coastline and taste the fresh salty sea air – it’ll put hair on your chest, or something. The walk follows the footpath through Knowles Farm to St Catherine’s Point and continue around the iconic 19th century lighthouse. You’ll pass the 16th century Buddle Inn, a charming pub with fantastic views from the outside seating area. Pint and a Ploughmans anyone? You’ll have worked up a good appetite with all that sea air. Route here.

Test Valley Walk, Stockbridge Circular. Moderate. 8 Miles.

Image credit: Andrew Foster

The River Test is one of Hampshire’s beautiful clear chalk streams, world famous for its trout fishing. Fishing conjures up images of peace and tranquillity, and that’s certainly the order of the day on this long, but not too testing (despite the name!) circular walk. The Test Way runs from Inkpen Hill in Berkshire southwards until the river flows into Southampton water. I love the small Georgian town of Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley, home of The Boot Inn, a beamed fishing pub with a classic interior and riverside garden. Route here.

Alresford Watercress Trail. Moderate. 4.5 Miles.

Watercress Line

A glorious walk to appreciate the clear waters of the River Alre that makes it the perfect environment for Hampshire’s watercress industry (yes, really). Start at the station where heritage stream railway the Watercress Line terminates – look out for Thomas the Tank Engine! Cross New Alresford to join the riverside path before venturing through ancient lanes and farms tracks until you get to the beautiful church in Old Alresford. Route here

Lyndhurst Circular Walk. The New Forest. Easy/moderate. 7.5 miles.

Image credit: Saffron Blaze

If you like to walk barefoot with daisies in your hair, this route’s for you. It takes in open heathland, ancient woodland, enclosures and wildlife – the perfect mix of everything The New Forest has to offer. See if you can spot any resident ponies and deer grazing, and look underfoot for wildflowers such as primroses and violets in spring. Route here.

Finchdean Circular Walk. Moderate. 4.5 miles.

St Hubert’s Church, Idsworth
Image credit: Trevor Wintle

This walk starts in Finchdean near Waterlooville. The terrain includes cattle fields with kissing gates and styles, woodland and open downland where you’ll be rewarded with sparkling views of the Solent. Cross a small wooden bridge towards St Hubert’s Church, Idsworth, which lies in splendid isolation. The medieval wall paintings within this otherwise unassuming building are in excellent condition and worth a detour. Route here.

Words: Helen Ruff

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