West Meon is an ideal base from which to explore south Hampshire – the historic city of Winchester lies 12 miles to the west and the bustling market town of Petersfield is seven miles away. From here there is a good rail service to London and Portsmouth, where there are ferry links to the continent and the Isle of Wight. The pretty market town of Alresford with its beautiful Georgian buildings and the Watercress Line Steam Railway is only seven miles away. Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton, where the novelist spent the last eight years of her life, is an easy nine-mile drive up the A32 towards Alton. Hinton Ampner House owned by the National Trust, an elegant country house with fine gardens, is only a ten-minute drive away.
Walking, Cycling and Horse-riding
Shafts Farm is ideally located as either a staging post on The South Downs Way long-distance footpath or as a base for exploring the local area on foot or by bicycle. The Monarch's Way, Wayfarers Walk, Hangers Way and Staunton Way are all well within striking distance. The Meon Valley Trail starts at the site of the disused West Meon station, which is a stone's throw from Shafts Farm and follows the route of the old Meon Valley railway track for nine miles to Wickham (bikes can be hired – see the website). There are splendid views of the Meon Valley and River Meon. The Meon Valley Pilgrimage Trail is a walk along the Meon Valley discovering the ten churches founded by St Wilfrid in the seventh century – it starts at All Saints, East Meon and finishes at St Peter's Church, Titchfield.
The closest access point to The South Downs Way is at the top of Old Winchester Hill Lane (O.S. grid ref: 645217). From here to Shafts Farm (see route map) it is 1.6 miles and it's downhill all the way – a relief after a long day's walking! We are very happy to transport walkers back to the footpath in the morning in order to conserve that extra bit of energy! Horses are welcome and we have secure paddocks in which to turn them out.
Should you wish to base yourself at Shafts Farm and explore the local area, we can suggest circular walks of varying distances and provide maps and directions, with suggestions for pubs to visit en route. Alternatively, we can supply a packed lunch, which should be booked in advance. Various members of the Morrish family (particularly our two German wire-haired pointers, Mitzi and Strudel) are enthusiastic walkers and have explored most of the rights of way in this part of Hampshire.
We can dry out wet kit overnight and also offer the use of a hosepipe, bucket, soap and towels for muddy bikes or dogs.
Chalk Downland Habitats
West Meon is surrounded by the most stunning, rolling chalk grassland scenery and beech woodland, examples of which can be easily accessed from Shafts Farm.
Chappetts Copse is a reserve managed by Hants and Isle of Wight Wildlife 1.5 miles from Shafts Farm and well worth a visit in late May when the largest population in Britain of the rare sword-leaved helleborine (cephalanthera longifolia) and other rare orchids are in flower (see photo).
At Old Winchester Hill Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England and only two miles from Shafts Farm, you can walk out to the Iron Age Hill Fort for breathtaking views south whilst enjoying the varied chalk grassland flora and song of the skylarks.