Unlock summer in Hampshire

Hampshire is encouraging visitors to ‘unlock summer’ and fall back in love with the great British holiday with a host of top tips and suggestions aimed at inspiring post-lockdown day visits and short break stays in the county.

A new campaign launched by Visit Hampshire is set to inspire visitors by sharing the best things you can do in Hampshire, under the theme of ‘unlocking’ coast and countryside open spaces, amazing attractions and adventurous activities – plus highlighting the county’s most Instagramable towns and villages.

With many tourism businesses and attractions open again – and awarded the new VisitEngland industry standard ‘Good To Go’ safety mark – visitor safety and comfort is a top priority, but Hampshire also aims to highlight how attractions and accommodation providers will still make summer visits as much fun as possible.

With not one, but two national parks – the New Forest and South Downs – Hampshire has plenty of open spaces and beauty spots for some natural social distancing, while its beaches are perhaps one of the county’s best kept secrets, making them a little quieter than other traditional resorts, but just as attractive.

Top spots for a dose of extra vitamin ‘sea’ are the New Forest – which is certainly less well known for its beaches than its forest walks and wild ponies – Lee on Solent, Southsea and Hayling Island, where windsurfing is said to have been invented.

For unlocking activitiesthis summer, head to the New Forest where you can walk or cycle along the hundreds of miles of tracks. If you fancy taking to the water, canoe down the Beaulieu River with New Forest Activities or Stand Up Paddle Board to Hurst Castle.

Attractions now unlocked, and re-opened with additional safety precautions, include Paultons Park, with over 70 rides and attractions and the acclaimed Peppa Pig World, which has launched a virtual queuing app – which you can also use to order food!

Among new exhibitions is Marwell Zoo’s Supersized, featuring 40 brick models of giant animals, including a three-metre high tarantula and a towering red spitting cobra. Beaulieu, home to the National Motor Museum, hosts nostalgic exhibition, ‘Motoring in Miniature – The Toys of Your Childhood’ with more than 800 toy and pedal cars.

Make the most of the outdoors this summer at one of Hampshire’s stately homes and gardens, from Exbury Gardens in the New Forest, to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Mottisfont in the Test Valley. In the north of the county there’s the Vyne and West Green House Garden and in east Hampshire there is Hinton Ampner.

Scattered throughout the county are towns and villages worthy of making any Instagram feed. Stockbridge in the Test Valley has great pubs and independent boutique shops nestled alongside the River Test, while Lymington is not only picturesque for its location on the Lymington River and New Forest coastline, but also for its Georgian architecture on High Street and for Quay Hill, where Victorian buildings line the cobbled streets.

Alresford, a quaint town with colourful Georgian buildings just east of Winchester, has been named one of the UK’s favourite market towns by Country Life, and the centre of Hampshire’s historic watercress growing industry – celebrated in a heritage steam railway, The Watercress Line, which runs from the town. For some literary inspiration, Chawton, in east Hampshire, is where Jane Austen famously lived and wrote six of her most well-known novels.

To help visitors make the most of their trips, Visit Hampshire is urging people to  “Know Before You Go” by checking details and restrictions before travelling. It could be that an attraction is only offering pre-booked tickets, a hotel may have a new check-in process or a restaurant is only taking card payments.

Visitors are also being asked to “Respect, Protect and Enjoy” when visiting Hampshire by maintaining social distancing guidelines, undertaking regular hand washing and leaving no trace by taking litter home with them.

For full details about unlocking summer in Hampshire, see: https://bit.ly/2ZtTmb7