Hampshire is one of the UK’s great holiday secrets – and one that’s well worth discovering on a caravanning trip.
This county in the south-west of England is regarded by many to be the birthplace of the English nation.
Back in the days of the Vikings, around 1200 years ago, much of the rest of what would become the United Kingdom had been conquered by those uninvited Scandinavian visitors. The last English Kingdom standing was Wessex under Alfred the Great, with its capital in Winchester.
In fact, the city went on to become England’s first recognisable capital overall under Alfred’s successors.
Even William the Conqueror headed there as fast as he could, rather than to London. Perhaps if it made sense to him, you might want to do the same today!
Hampshire is just full of history. Thanks to its importance to the Anglo-Saxons, the relatively short distance to London plus access to the Channel ports, it has been at the centre of many great events. They have all left their legacies on the landscape and are just waiting to be discovered.
Why not try:
- Portsmouth-1. The world-famous base for the Royal Navy over many centuries. Today it’s known for its historic ships, such as HMS Victory and others. It’s also where you can catch a ferry over to the Isle of Wight if you fancy an island-hopping experience;
- Portsmouth-2. While there, don’t forget adjacent Southsea for a good British ‘seaside experience’ and to marvel at its impressive castle built by Henry VIII to defend the town from possible French attacks. On a far more peaceful note, why not visit the charming and interesting Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum? It’s highly regarded;
- Don’t expect a major metropolis or a twee tourist centre but instead a pleasant and bustling county town. Winchester Cathedral is well over 1000 years old and an architectural gem. The Westgate Museum (inside one of the city’s ancient gates) shouldn’t be missed either;
- Silchester or as it was once called, “Calleva-Atrebatum”. The name should be a bit of a clue that this was founded by the Romans and remained occupied and used for several centuries. There are lots of remains to be seen plus regular demonstrations and re-enactments etc.
For the Family
However, it’s true that old stones and ancient history aren’t to everyone’s taste.
Even if they are, the chances are that you’ll be looking to vary your routines to include other things and here Hampshire scores highly again. Places that are worth going to see include:
- Many of the county’s beaches are fine shingle rather than pure golden sands but they’re great for sunbathing and swimming (follow local safety advice of course). They also benefit from some marvellous views. Calshot Beach and Stokes Bay are just two worthy of mention;
- Marwell Zoo (near Winchester). Marvellous fun for animal lovers with plenty of other entertainment too;
- the New Forest. Called ‘New’ because it’s “only” around 950 years old, it’s one of the last truly wild open spaces in southern England. The ponies are beautiful and famous around the world;
- for rides, thrills and splashing around, try Funland on Hayling Island. We all love this sort of thing even if we tell others that it’s just for the kids!
Hampshire has some great sites with really good facilities, though make sure your touring caravan insurance is in place, as displaying it might be mandatory in some locations:
- Black Knowl Caravan Club Site;
- Morn Hill Caravan Club Site;
- New Forest Caravan Club Centenary Site;
- Rookesbury Park Caravan Club Site;
- Shamba Holidays.
Generally speaking, roads in the area are great though some minor rural routes can be narrow and twisting. So, before leaving the major roads, be sure you’ve thoroughly researched your route.
Above all though – have fun!