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The valley of the River Meon in Hampshire is celebrated for its prettiness, but many only know it from driving along the A32. The only way to really savour the riverside cottages, ancient churches and cosy pubs since the railway line was cut in 1968 is to leave the car and set out on foot, of course. Whereas the villages are charming, the landscape can be quite imposing, with the highest point on the walk being Beacon Hill at 201m above sea level.
This walk (see the route here) divides into two halves. In the first half the landscape is mostly pastoral and high-lying with ancient tracks gradually ascending then descending sweeping downland. In the second half the landscape is mostly settled and low-lying with the River Meon winding between the floodplain villages.
The first village, Droxford, has a typical Hampshire village church of sturdy Norman fundamentals. The early Georgian Old Rectory opposite the church is the finest in a village of abundant fine houses and the earliest parts of St Clair's Farm are dated to 1200. Meonstoke is the second village and Exton the third, and all contain fine houses in brick and flint. Droxford, importantly, has a perfect pub for the end of the walk: The White Horse.
Dogs are welcome to join us on this event but we do ask the following:
Please ensure you adhere to the Countryside Code at all times - see (Keeping Dogs Under Effective Control)
If your dog is uncontrolled and strays in open land frightening other animals or livestock, the leader is supported by the OutdoorLads board of trustees to ask you to leave the event as this is not acceptable behaviour.
All images are licensed for reuse under Creative Commons with these credits: Looking across the top of Beacon Hill by Steve Daniels; Signposts for the South Downs Way temporary route by Peter S; High Street, Droxford by Peter Facey; High Street, Droxford by Peter Facey; Looking south on the River Meon from Brock Bridge by Shazz; Manor Farm, Exton by Robin Webster; Church Lane, Exton by Pierre Terre; River Meon at Meonstoke by David Martin; Shady gateway, Lomer by Jim Champion; The Manor House, Meonstoke by David960; Works on Beacon Hill by Peter Facey; Beacon Hill beeches by Jim Champion; Betty Mundy's Bottom by Peter Facey; Field of flints north of St. Clair's Farm by Peter Facey; White Horse Inn Droxford by Jim Goldsmith.
My thanks to Gavin for writing this one up for me.
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof over-trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & drink
Please bring a packed lunch and drink. There is nowhere to buy these items on the walk. There is a pub at the end: The White Horse at Droxford.