12 of the best walks at National Trust sites in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Mottisfont (c) Herry Lawford, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mottisfont (c) Herry Lawford, Flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Whether you’re on Hampshire’s mainland or out on the Isle of Wight the National Trust has sites that capture some of the county’s best scenery and most fascinating heritage. Here are 11 great walks for you to try

Hinton Ampner

- Dutton Estate Walk at Hinton Ampner

At whatever time of year you decide to take this four-mile route through Ralph Dutton’s stunning estate you’ll be treated to a variety of beautiful landscapes whether that be swathes of delicate bluebells or vibrant autumn shades.

After fire engulfed the original property it was rebuilt in 1960 and today it is as deep-rooted in the countryside panorama as any other feature in the area whether that be manmade or natural.

Mottisfont

- Mottisfont Estate Walk

Running close to the River Test and River Dun, the sounds of babbling brooks next to ancient trees will be a common feature while you embark on this six-mile walk that can take up to four hours if you take things slow.

Dogs are very welcome to join you on your walk but it is recommended that you keep them on a lead at times when you pass grazing animals.

Newtown National trust Nature Reserve

- Newtown National Nature Reserve

This is the Isle of Wight’s only National Nature Reserve and this gentle walk provides you with magnificent views of its varied habitats and also takes you past a Town Hall that’s closely connected to the area’s history.

The initial walk is just 1.5 miles long but it can be extended to a four-mile trek taking you to see different parts of the estuarine environment.

The Vyne

- Woodland walk at The Vyne

While it is suggested that this walk in the grounds of a former Tudor powerhouse is best during autumn, its woodland, medieval fish pond and remnants of a WWII storage site are well worth visiting at any time of the year.

At just 1.5 miles in length this route is one of the quicker to complete on our list but it still manages to pack in an awful lot of interest and intrigue in a short period of time.

Ibsley Sunrise

- Walk to the Huff Duff

This peculiarly-named spot - an old directional station - is located in the New Forest’s Northern Commons and during this four-mile walk you’ll experience lots of the military history that defines the area.

As well as that you’ll also come across many far-reaching views over Ibsley Common while wet heathlands and bogs provide further highlights a little closer to the route you’re on.

Stockbridge Down

- Stockbridge Down

Some of the county’s best countryside views are on the cards when you take a 1.5-mile walk at this chalk hill that’s part of the wider Mottisfont Estate.

You’ll take in these stunning views from a spot that used to be an Iron Age hillfort while there are also a number of Bronze Age burial mounds at the site which can be best seen in winter when the summer grasses have died down for the colder months.

Chillerton Down

- Chillerton Down

Head to the heart of the island and its AONB for a 4.5-mile circular walk around one Isle of Wight site you may well be less familiar with.

If you spot an unusual pair of small, perfectly circular bodies of water these are not constructions from other-worldly beings but simply dewponds constructed to provide drinking water for livestock that roam the area.

Mill Bridge

- Winchester City Mill

Discover the fascinating history of Winchester and the role that the mill - believed to have been operational for over 1000 years - has played in creating the city’s heritage.

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On this four-mile walk you also see how the mill is important for the natural world with kingfishers, grey wagtails, wild trout and water voles often seen in and around the River Itchen within proximity of the mill.

view from Selborne Common

- Selborne Common

This three-mile butterfly-themed walk may be at its best at the height of summer when it is most likely you’ll see silver-washed fritillary, purple emperor, white admiral, brown argus and purple and brown hairstreak.

It is still a wonderful walk at whatever time of the year you take it and you’ll feel connected to the same landscape that inspired pioneering naturalist Gilbert White when writing the Natural History of Selborne.

A view of The Needles Lighthouse taken from The Needles Headlands - 16th February 2018

- Needles Headland and Tennyson Down

While views of the iconic Needles will undoubtedly be the highlight of this seven-mile route, there is a wealth of other stunning scenery and historical intrigue for you to discover.

You’ll visit the Needles Battery - a Victorian coastal defence and secret rocket testing site also managed by the National Trust - numerous landscapes that inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson and a monument to the poet laureate as it looks out into the Channel.

Ludshott Commons Bridge at Waggoners Wells

- Ludshott Commons

The 705 acres of open heathland in East Hampshire this Site of Special Scientific Interest offer a wonderful diversity of flora and fauna for you to admire and photograph.

Butterflies, adders, grass snakes, sand lizards, rabbits and roe deer all call the area home and there is a good chance you’ll spot one or more of these during your three-mile walk.

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- St Helens Duver

We head to the east of the Isle of Wight for our final entry on this list and to a landscape populated by sandy beaches, sand dunes, rock pools and woodland close to the coast.

At just 1.5 miles in length the walk is one you’ll be able to complete in around an hour but it still delivers magical coastal views and visits many sites linked to the island’s Royal heritage. If you’re feeling energetic Bembridge Fort and Bembridge Windmill - another pair of National Trust sites - are not too far away.

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