Staying…in Hampshire

Last week we were in Kent, but other routes to France depart from the Hampshire port of Portsmouth, while nearby Southampton is the port for cruise liners. 

Though what if you stay in Hampshire?!

Hampshire has two National Parks, both near the coast.  To the west is the New Forest, while to the east is the South Downs – yes, the southern counterpart of the North Downs which pass through Kent.  The highest land though is in the north of the county, in the North Wessex Downs AONB.

The New Forest was declared a royal forest by William the Conqueror, with some small settlements being cleared to make a continuous hunting ground.  The area has been important for wood supply, particularly to the Royal Navy in the days of wooden ships, some famous examples of which are on display at Portsmouth.

Both Southampton and Portsmouth are on long, deep inlets which make good harbours.  In fact, the whole coast is sheltered by the Isle of Wight, just a short ferry ride away. 

But neither of the two big port towns is the county town.  That title goes to Winchester – previously capital in the Wessex Kingdom of Alfred the Great and more central within the county today.

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