I love a weekend getaway. Whether I’m off to Europe or staying in the UK, there’s something energizing about a quick break. This weekend I’m heading south for 36 hours in Hampshire, and I can’t wait to see, smell, and taste what the area around the South Downs National Park has to offer.
36 Hours in Hampshire
My boyfriend and I hop in the car on Saturday morning and travel south for the hour-and-a-half drive to Hampshire. After an amazing day trip to Winchester recently, I’m excited to be back in the region.
We arrive in time for breakfast at a cafe in Petersfield, sitting outside to take in the scenery.
From there we explore the town center, soaking up everything from the vintage shops in the lanes to the Saturday market in The Square.
I can’t get enough of Sheep Street, with its eclectic mix of architectural styles and bright houses.
From Petersfield we continue our 36 hours in Hampshire with a visit to Bedales, the school my boyfriend attended as a teenager. Its library is a temple to books and wood, and is one of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen.
Designed by Ernest Gimson in the Arts and Crafts style, it feels equally like a cathedral and a cozy living room. I could move in.
But I have to move on. Hampshire has a lot more to see, and next on the itinerary is one of my favorite things to do on a road trip in England: drive through villages and soak up the storybook atmosphere.
Starting in the village of Privett, where we discover a beautiful church and lovely houses, we spend the afternoon motoring around the South Downs.
From Privett we explore East Meon, with its impossibly sweet thatched roof cottages and narrow stream. Pink houses with red post boxes make me feel like I’ve fallen into my favorite fairytale.
Not far away, we end our day with dinner at The Thomas Lord, a pub in West Meon. We love the food as much as we adore the hydrangeas in the beer garden.
The next morning we’re back in West Meon for breakfast in another garden, this one at the cafe in the West Meon Village Stores.
Jane Austen’s House Museum
Fueled, we drive up to Chawton for a visit to Jane Austen’s House Museum. I’ve read her major novels a million times, so it feels fitting to pay our respects.
The house is where she spent the last years of her life, and has everything from her writing desk to her clothing and jewelry. Outside, a beautiful flower garden and resident cat make us feel welcome.
There’s one more stop on our Hampshire itinerary, and it’s a colorful one. Not far from Jane Austen’s House Museum are English lavender fields in Hampshire’s Hartley Park Farm. This is one of two open weekends of the summer, and I’m excited our trip coincides with it.
The fields themselves are smaller than I anticipated and seem only partly in bloom. But they’re still pretty to see and reasonably photogenic. Given how many pictures I’ve seen of lavender fields in England on Instagram lately I’m happy to finally join the fun.
It’s a good way to end our weekend in Hampshire, and as we travel back to London I’m full of the colors, scents, and sights of the area. With all this energy I’m excited for my next quick getaway in a week’s time. Stay tuned…
Have you visited? How would you spend 36 hours in Hampshire?