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Height of spring in the South Downs

See the South Downs spring into life

The picturesque Hampshire village of East Meon featured in the Domesday Survey of 1086, and its layout has remained unchanged since

There’s nothing quite like the English countryside in springtime – trees so green that they have an almost picture-book quality, streams swelled up to Poohsticks levels and smatterings of fowering bulbs popping up everywhere like hedgerow bouquets. The Hampshire South Downs is an ideal place to embrace the new season. Spend a day exploring Queen Elizabeth Country Park’s mountain bike trails or footpaths: catch viewpoint Butser Hill – the highest spot on the South Downs – on a clear day and you can see all the way to the Isle of Wight. Any spring showers can be dodged with a visit to Gilbert White’s House, a charming museum devoted to a pioneering 18th-century naturalist, which also features exhibits on Antarctic explorer Captain Oates (£9.50; gilbertwhiteshouse.org. uk). Alternatively, try pub-hopping in one of the region’s many idyllic villages – both Selborne and East Meon (pictured) are replete with red brick and thatched roofs. Close by, in Priors Dean, is The Pub With No Name. Friendly and cosy, this traditional pub is full of wood and ephemera, serving top fsh and chips and other pub classics (mains from £11.50; pubwithnoname.co.uk).

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Lonely Planet
May 2016

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