6 family-friendly walks to explore this half term
Short of fresh air and vitamin D since the clocks went back? Round-up the little (and big) ones and give it some welly with these child-friendly walks around the county
Hamble Rail Trail, Hamble-le-rice
As you’ve probably guessed, this trail runs along a disused railway track, passing through open parkland, countryside, woodland and running alongside a pebble beach. It’s a 4.5 mile round-trip – pack snacks! – taking around two hours, so better for slightly older kids and train-mad-dads. Choo-choo choose to make a day of it with a ride on the miniature railway (above) in the Royal Victoria Country Park where the walk begins.
Silchester Roman Town, Silchester
Ave! That’s Roman for hello, if you want to impress the kids. Take them on a stroll through Hampshire’s Roman past taking in the ruins – including the Roman walls and amphitheatre – of the large and important Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, home to nearly 10,000 people in the third and fourth century. A flat, two mile walk starting at the Silchester Roman Town car park, it follows gentle gradients, so not too taxing for your little soldiers.
Stockbridge Down wildlife and history walk, Stockbridge
Views galore at this 1.5 mile National Trust trail, with a good smattering of wildlife too. Taking in Woolbury Ring, an Iron Age hill fort with hand-dug ramparts thought to be more than 3,000 years old, it’s 518ft (158m) elevation above sea level makes it the highest point on the Down – so be sure to pack some binoculars. In the Second World War the ring was used as a lookout post for enemy aircraft. Today, you’re more likely to spot native flora and fauna like butterflies and juniper trees.
Hogmoor Inclosure, Borden
Take the short, Gilbert White trail and discover flora, fauna and wildlife the local naturalist would have loved at this hidden gem of a nature reserve, with pushchair-friendly pathways and a fantastic play park. A longer trail (around two miles), reveals facts about the area’s Roman past. Look out too for the superb Gormley-esque sculptures by a local artist (above). Word to the wise: the ‘Tank Crossing’ car park is notoriously hard to find (hint, look out for the cement works, it’s not a wrong turn!).
Bolderwood, New Forest
Take a stroll through the New Forest and you’ll almost certainly spot a wild pony. In autumn, there’s a good chance of seeing a porker, too, as pigs are freed to gobble up the acorns, a practice known as pannage that dates back to William the Conqueror. Harder to spot – and all the more special for it – wild deer also roam the Forest and are known to hang out in a large meadow overlooked by a deer-viewing platform at Bolderwood, north west of Lyndhurst. It’s less than half a mile to the platform and from there you’ll find a marked one mile Jubilee trail and two-mile Radnor trail for a longer yomp.
West Meon, Meon Valley
The Meon Valley is incredibly beautiful and encompasses stunning views of the South Downs without being too far off the beaten track. Combining cute thatched cottages and all the sights, sounds and smells of the Hampshire countryside over not-too taxing terrain, this 5.9 mile circular walk is good for older kids as it takes around three hours and isn’t flat enough for pushchairs.