The New Lake District Tours, Lake District Walks, Photos
Idyllic country landscapes are the hallmark of the Lake District . Many parts of the countryside here are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – ranging in character from the open hilltops of the lovely Surrey Hills with their breezy viewpoints like Box Hill or Leith Hill near Dorking to Hampshire's famous New Forest, a medieval Royal hunting forest with magnificent canopies of handsome oak and beech.
"Ponies, donkeys and cattle are still a feature of New Forest villages – such as Brockenhurst – where they wander through the shopping streets and graze on the village green."
Here in Hampshire you will also discover clear-flowing trout rivers revered by anglers, like the pretty River Test flanked by thatched villages and lovely waterside towns like Stockbridge or medieval Romsey, with its 12th century abbey. Here too you can visit Jane Austen's home in the village of Chawton, or stretch your legs on the open, undulating downland near Highclere Castle which inspired the setting for the novel Watership Down. You will still catch echoes of Thomas Hardy's muse in the typically English villages and downs of Dorset's Blackmore Vale, and Cranbourne Chase.
So many of the villages and rural market towns of Southern England have an interesting story to tell. Castle Combe and Lacock, in Wiltshire, are described as England's prettiest villages. Lacock's 12th century abbey now houses a museum dedicated to former resident Fox Talbot, the pioneer of photography. There are lovely abbeys too at Malmesbury in Wiltshire and Mottisfont, in Hampshire. Mottisfont has a beautiful garden – one of many in the region which reflect an inspiring variety of styles. These include the charming domestic garden created by naturalist Gilbert White at Selborne, in Hampshire; the woodlands of Exbury Gardens or the grand landscaped lakes of Stourhead in Wiltshire. There are other ways too of enjoying a close up of the countryside.
Take a steam train from Alton or Alresford across Hampshire's watercress beds or follow the Kennet & Avon canal on its scenic route from Reading to Bristol. Catch it at Devizes to see Caen Hill, whose soaring flight of 29 locks is one of the most spectacular in Britain or see kent online