Find your own winter wonderland in Hampshire with the National Trust
From Boxing Day 2016 to February 2017
After the indulgences of Christmas, there’s nothing better on a crisp winter’s morning than venturing outdoors to explore frosty landscapes and spot winter wildlife.
From scented gardens and ancient parklands, to tranquil woods and glorious open countryside, the National Trust cares for some enchanting places just waiting to be discovered across Hampshire during the cold winter months.
Grab your coats and hats, wrap up warm and explore the county’s best winter wonderlands:
Here’s a selection of the best winter wonderlands cared for by the National Trust in Hampshire:
Boxing Day & New Year’s Day guided walks
With its far-reaching South Downs views, Hinton Ampner is a great place to shake off the post-Christmas ‘fuzz’. The ancient parkland and magnificent beech woodland are easy to navigate using downloadable trails, but if you don’t fancy going it alone, join the Boxing Day or New Year’s Day walks. Hinton Ampner’s knowledgeable head gardener will take you on a four mile stroll across this beautiful landscape, and there’s warming hot chocolate and shortbread for all walkers. Dogs very welcome.
26 December at 10.30am & 1 January at 1pm, £15 each, book on 0344 2491895
Winter colour and scent
In Hinton’s intimate gardens you’ll discover wonderful winter fragrance, shape and vistas. Look out for heavily scented sweet box (Saroccoccas), snowdrops, winter aconites and crocuses, as well as quirky topiary. There’s now additional winter interest in the walled garden too, courtesy of a new winter border. Rich red stems of cornus alba ‘Baton Rouge’ and ‘Mid-winter fire’ contrast with the ghostly white of Rubus thibetanus. Beautiful hellebores provide colour in even the gloomiest of days, and from January show-stoppers Iris reticulate reveal intense shades of blue and purple whilst the fragrance of Daphne Jacqueline Postill fills the air.
New downloadable walks
Hinton Ampner has two new downloadable walks to add to its series. The 1.9 mile Stewkeley trail takes you on a gentle stroll across the estate towards the picturesque village of Kilmeston, before looping back to Hinton Ampner. The 5.5 mile Battle of Cheriton walk follows in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers, and takes you past an old memorial stone commemorating the men who fought on both sides. This battle marked a major turning point in the Civil War and resulted in a Parliamentary victory that helped shaped the future of England.
Hinton’s tea room is open every day, so after your walk you can tuck into a hearty one pot lunch with vegetables from the walled garden, or a delicious home-baked cake. In the shop you’ll find plenty of gifts including plants grown right here in the gardens, so you can take a little piece of Hinton Ampner home with you.
Gardens, parkland, tea room, shop: open from Boxing Day onwards. The Entrance Hall of the house is open from 9 January for an exhibition by artist-led group the Hampshire Artists’ Co-operative, featuring art, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, jewellery and textiles. The rest of the house re-opens on 12 February.
The Vyne, nr Basingstoke
The Vyne’s exciting roof conservation project is now well underway, but although the house and nearby sections of the garden are affected by scaffolding, the wider country estate makes a great place to blow away the cobwebs over the winter season. So, wrap up warm and stride out over this ancient landscape.
Self-guided estate trails
A series of waymarked circular walking routes criss-cross The Vyne estate, taking in fields, woodland and wetland. You’ll also find these trails on The Vyne’s downloadable woodland walks map, at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/vyne
. For a winter challenge, set out on an adventure with The Vyne’s free geocaching trail using the OpenCaching app on your smart phone.
After your walk, nip into the Brewhouse tea-room for warming savoury and sweet treats. The gift shop is also open, and stocks locally sourced gifts alongside others, including freshly ground flour from the Trust’s Winchester City Mill.
Mottisfont, nr Romsey
Winter garden colour and scent
Mottisfont’s winter garden has matured into a beautiful and unique landscape, full of horticultural treasures. Stroll along paths through winter-flowering shrubs and perennials, rich in colour and scent. There’s brilliantly coloured bark from dogwood and silvery ornamental bramble, while berries, fruit and late- and early-flowering perennials also provide colour during the shortest days of the year. Gullies of foliage plants appear to wind through the banks of willow like water and spill into the stream, and as winter continues, the garden becomes a refuge for other late flowering shrubs such as mahonia, sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle and daphne.
Historic estate walks
This former 13th
-century priory sits in 1,600 acres of garden, woods and meadows. Enjoy Mottisfont at your own pace and choose from several downloadable walks, including the six mile estate walk, taking in historic farmland, 400 year old woodland and the crystal clear waters of the famous river Test. It’s the perfect way to see some of Hampshire’s stunning countryside glistening in the winter frost. Download the walk at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont
Café warmers and indoor delights
There’s nothing like a winter walk to build up a bit of an appetite, so visit Mottisfont’s Kitchen Cafe for a warming seasonal meal, or the Coach House Café for lighter bites. You can explore the Twelve Days of Christmas story until 3 January, with beautifully decorated rooms and gardens inspired by the classic song. Mottisfont’s large gift shop and the second hand book shop are open every day, so there’s plenty to browse through and look at.
Garden, shop, café, house and grounds: open from Boxing Day onwards (house closed 4 & 5 January
). The art gallery re-opens on 14 January
, when Mottisfont unveils its Rex Whistler art exhibition. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont
or call 01794 340757 for more information.
New Forest Northern Commons
For those wanting to stretch their legs further afield, the beautiful wilderness of the New Forest Northern Commons offer adventure seekers an inspirational landscape, with gently worn paths through heathland, woodland, mire and grassland. Conservation work at Half Moon common has opened up some breathtaking views and created a vast sense of space. Wild landscapes and spectacular vistas can also be enjoyed at Rockford, Ibsley and Hale Purlieu commons.
New downloadable walks
We’ve now got our first New Forest downloadable trails. The first – at Rockford and Ibsley commons – takes you across wild expanses of heathland fringed by trees. Home to the rare Dartford warbler and herds of ponies, you’ll also come across the Huff Duff – the remains of a World War Two Direction Finding station that kept track of Allied aircraft. Find out about the Huff Duff’s ginger cat when you get there.
The second walk is a figure of eight route through Hale Purlieu, crossing streams and taking in great views across the common’s valleys and mires. Look out for stonechats and Dartford warblers flying between the gorse bushes.
You can share your pictures of your trips to winter gardens and landscapes with us on:
– Twitter by tweeting @southeasnt
– Instagram by sending your pictures to southeastnt