The stunning landscape of the Test Valley in West Hampshire offers thatched cottages, welcoming pubs and picturesque villages. There are attractions for all ages, such as The Hawk Conservancy Trust, the rose gardens at Mottisfont Abbey and Whitchurch Silk Mill. Opportunities for walking, horse riding and cycling abound in Test Valley with highlights being the 44-mile Test Way and the annual Test Valley Tour. Test Valley is most famous for its fly fishing and the clear chalk streams of the Test and its tributaries yield up an abundance of brown trout, grayling and salmon.
Visit lovely Stockbridge, with its shops, tea rooms and restaurants, In the pretty town of Romsey you can explore the Romsey Heritage and Visitor Centre, the magnificent Norman Abbey and Broadlands, the former home of the late Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Andover is a lively market town dating back to Saxon times and here you can visit the Andover Museum and Museum of the Iron Age and the nearby Iron Age settlement of Danebury Hill Fort.
The Wallops are attractive villages skirting a small chalk stream and one of them, Middle Wallop, is home to a World War II airfield and the Museum of Army Flying. Other attractions in Test Valley include the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Longstock Park Water Garden, and Houghton Lodge and gardens. Many visitors also flock to the small church of St Margaret's in East Wellow near Romsey, where Florence Nightingale was buried.
The New Forest is England's newest National Park where deer, ponies and cattle continue to roam free in its ancient heaths and woodland, great for walking, cycling and horseriding. With the New Forest Wildlife Park near Lyndhurst, the National Motor Museum at the beautiful village of Beaulieu, the 18th Century village of Buckler's Hard and Exbury Gardens and Steam railway there's fun for all ages.
Other family attractions in Hampshire include Paulton's Park at Ower, Furzey Gardens at Minstead, Marwell Wildlife (formerly known as Marwell zoo) south of Winchester, Portchester Castle and Hurst Castle in Keyhaven.
Southampton is a flourishing port, famous for voyages such as the Titanic and Mayflower. The Maritime Museum and God's House Tower Museum of Archaeology are well worth a visit.
Winchester is one of England's most beautiful cities, with a magnificent cathedral and is packed with historic buildings such as the Great Hall, the Hospital of St Cross, Westgate Museum and Jane Austen's House.
Portsmouth is known as the waterfront city. It's history and heritage includes the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, acknowledged as 'Family Attraction of the Year' from the Good Britain Guide. An all inclusive ticket will get you to see the most famous warships ever built, the HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and Mary Rose as well as the Royal Naval museum, Action Stations and a harbour tour. Nearby is Portsmouth's newest landmark, the Spinnaker Tower. Museums to visit include the Charles Dicken's Birthplace Museum and the D-Day Museum.
At the beautiful Georgian market town of Lymington, you can take a car ferry to Yarmouth in the Isle of Wight which is steeped in history with a wealth of attractions.
Guests at Angel Cottage may also wish to visit Bournemouth, Christchurch and Hengistbury Head and guests staying at Oak Tree Cottage, and Spring Cottage may wish to visit Stonehenge and Salisbury. These are found on the Dorset and Wiltshire introduction page.
Isle of Wight
Historic sites include Carisbrooke Castle and the Roman Villa near Newport, Osborne House in East Cowes (the magnificent countryside retreat of Queen Victoria), Bembridge Windmill, Needes Old Battery at Alum Bay, St Catherine's Lighthouse, Appuldurcombe House in Wroxall and Yarmouth Castle. Country Parks include the Calbourne Water Mill and Rural Museum which stands in beautifully kept grounds. Attractions include the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet and the commercialised 'Needles Pleasure Park' at Alum Bay. There are many beaches to visit in the Isle of Wight and you can choose the best beaches to suit your needs. For example, the beaches of Sandown and Shanklin are the best choice for families with young children, Freshwater Bay offers one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and you can enjoy fabulous walks all along the headland towards the Needles following 'The Tennyson Trail', and Bembridge and St Helen's are quieter than the main resorts, great for rock pools, where children can go crabbing, but where swimming is not safe for very small children. The scenic highlight is The Needles, three towers of rock jutting out at the island's most western end, a short walk from Alum Bay, famous for its multicoloured cliffs. The Isle of Wight hosts the Isle of Wight Music Festival on 11th-13th June 2010 at Seaclose Park and at Cowes, the sailing capital, the major national event Cowes Week on 31st July-7th August 2010.