Hampshire is once again set to become a focal point of the nation’s autumnal calendar.
From one of England’s best-loved poems which talks of the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, to the spectacular gardens and parkland created by an ‘18th century David Attenborough’, Hampshire offers the perfect spot for celebrating nature’s seasonal show in the great outdoors.
Keats’ Ode To Autumn – inspired by the scenery the poet saw on a daily basis during a stay in Winchester, in 1819 – has helped to make Hampshire synonymous with a season famous for its falling leaves, spectacular colours, harvest festivals, cooling climate and darker nights.
Winchester, not only offers its visitors a base for autumnal walks directly from the city centre into the South Downs National Park, but also a chance to a follow in the footsteps of Keats on a walk which is featured on the VisitHampshire website (https://bit.ly/3BcqVP0).
Autumn officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere this year on Wednesday, September 22 and will end on Tuesday, December 21.
And, as ever, visitors drawn to Hampshire by Ode To Autumn will also have a chance to find out more about another world-famous author, Jane Austen, whose grave can be found inside Winchester Cathedral.
Winchester Poetry Festival is doing things a little differently for 2021. This year’s festival has been scheduled to take place over five months – with a hybrid of online and ‘real world’ events accessible to everyone. It makes the festival as a whole the biggest so far; and in October. a relaxed but enticing festival weekend is scheduled to take place at Winchester Discovery Centre (https://bit.ly/3ji57vr).
From Winchester, it’s a short drive to Chawton, and a chance to see Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House.
Gilbert White’s House in nearby Selborne, meanwhile, is yet another strong autumnal attraction. With restored gardens recreated using the notes Gilbert White kept in his ‘Garden Kalendar’, as well as ancient parkland, the site is also bordered by the Selborne hanger, a great beech clad hill, which turns spectacular shades of red and orange in autumn. One of the special events scheduled here for 2021 is an Autumnal Flora Selborniensis Walk on October 6 (https://bit.ly/2WjPhHy).
Boasting two National Parks – the majestic New Forest, and the rolling South Downs – Hampshire can also offer plenty of seasonal food-and-drink options from its vineyards, to its cider making.
Autumn breaks in Hampshire can be enjoyed throughout the county, and Visit Hampshire has a full listing on its website (https://bit.ly/3sIUGUR).
Especially seasonal is a stay at Upper Neatham Mill, in Alton – a converted 17th-century barn on the bank of the River Wey. From around £100 per room per night B&B (https://bit.ly/3jf9x6n). The Mill also runs a popular two-day cider making course during the autumn months which the Daily Telegraph named as one of its top ten “sustainable living holiday courses” (https://bit.ly/3yfiUHn).
Other highlights of the season can be found in the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens (https://bit.ly/3jfSDV5), where a stunning collection of trees and plants come into their own; at Exbury Gardens the 200 acre estate offers the stunning backdrop for an Autumn walk (https://bit.ly/3ziMLQv); and at the National Trust property, The Vyne, which is set in gardens, woodlands and wetlands (https://bit.ly/3sNrtba).
For further information, visit http://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk, and https://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/autumn-moments.
Photo: Javaid Akhtar