From rolling hills to market towns, the South Downs National Park is vast. Cycling is a good way to visit this beautiful landscape and Wallops Wood Cottages is perfectly placed to the West of the South Downs in the the small town of Droxford. One of the trails we often suggest for guests to try is the Meon Valley Trail. You might even find yourself a spy!
From West Meon in the North to Wickham in the South, it can be walked or cycled and covers a distance of 17.7km or 11 miles. You can park there for free and start your trail or pick it up anywhere along its route.
This non circular trail is a cycle trough English history. Once a railway line running from Fareham to Alton, it used to transport livestock and farm produce. The small but thriving village of West Meon has a rich history dating back to the Iron and Bronze Age and the remains of a substantial Roman Villa have been found here.
The village churchyard is the resting place of some famous people too, one of them Thomas Lord, the founder of Lords Cricket Ground and the ashes of a spy (!) Guy Burgess, are scattered here too.
Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess was a British diplomat and Soviet agent, belonging to the Cambridge Five spy ring that operated from the mid-1930s to the early years of the Cold War. He defected in 1951 and fled to the Soviet union with his fellow spy, Donald Maclean . Guy Francis and his team of spies mean that Anglo-American intelligence relations were fraught and it took a long time for Britain’s foreign and diplomatic services to recover from this.
On your Meon Valley Trail, aside from visiting world spies, there are numerous more genteel activities and sights to be seen.
Our beautiful River Meon is not as well known at the Rivers Test and Itchen but its steep journey from the chalk downs near East meon to the Solent at Titchfield Haven means it is a fast flowing river and its course less altered by man. The River Meon offers shallow and crystal clear waters due to the filtering through the chalk over thousands of years.
The water temperature remains stable over the year and the steady flow and lack of sediment means we have an abundance of wildlife. These include otters, voles, brown trout and kingfishers to name a few and lush flora alongside its banks ensures it is green throughout the year.
The Meon Trail is also accessible for anyone using a wheelchair – motorised or not. Visit the website for the South Downs for further information on this trail and many others as well as accessibility. www.southdowns.gov.uk
A small detour can be made to visit Old Winchester Hill. A popular beauty spot with stunning and expansive views across the valley to Beacon Hill. The perfect place to do a spot of bird watching, buzzards and red kites are constant visitors. Local farmers do put their sheep to graze on, so please be mindful of our wooly friends with your bike!