Recognised as an area of outstanding beauty, the South Downs is also home to a multitude of vibrant working communities steeped in history and traditional English culture, from the ancient cathedral city of Winchester in the west to the bustling market town of Lewes in the east.
Our village of West Meon has a history dating back to the Iron and Bronze Ages. Evidence of the Meonwara tribe living in this northern most part of the Meon Valley has been found locally. In Lippen Wood there are the remains of a substantial Roman Villa. The village features in the history of the English Civil War being near to Cheriton and the churchyard is the final resting place for some well known names of English history.
Among them Thomas Lord the founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground, and another less celebrated figure from the 20th century, the spy Guy Burgess.
Today the village is a thriving community that despite its modest size maintains a village shop, cafe and Post Office, a butchers shop, a doctors surgery and a pub as well as a large number of clubs and societies.
We are on the doorstep of the Meon Valley Trail this permissive bridleway, following the line of the old Meon Valley railway, is 11 miles (17.7 kilometres) from West Meon to Wickham.
The majority of the trail is bordered by woodland however when the trees open out the views over the rolling hills and river valley is spectacular. The path is multi-use, frequented by walkers and cyclists.
During spring and summer, the trail is alive with butterflies such as the marbled white and gatekeeper, and plants like the ox-eye daisy and primrose. Flocks of redwing and fieldfare can be seen in the autumn feeding on berries and, if you are lucky, you may spot a little egret in the water meadows.
The trail links with the South Downs Way, Wayfarers’ Walk and local footpaths, enabling you to create a circular route to suit your time and pace.