26 new things to try in Hampshire this year

PUBLISHED: 17:19 06 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:02 07 January 2015


From rolling down a hill in a giant inflatable ball to gliding silently over the Hampshire countryside, use our A-Z guide of top local experiences to help you discover something new for 2015

Art for all

January is always the month we try and expand our horizons and skills by attempting a new hobby. Why not give something arty like perspective drawing, child portraits, Japanese bookbinding or a textile taster course at Hampshire Art and Craft a go? These are just some of the workshops taking place at Romsey’s Rum’s Eg Gallery at the start of 2015.

You can find out how to get involved as well as full prices and information at www.hampshireartandcraft.org


Boating history

Docked in Southampton, the SS Sheildhall is the largest working steam ship in Britain. She is the last survivor of her type and is generally recognised to be the largest steamship operated entirely by unpaid volunteers. You can find out all about this piece of maritime history and the golden age of steam on an excursion – you could even become another of the 800 or so volunteers who help conserve the ship.

For visiting times and membership details visit www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk


Café Cruise

This may be one for the warmer months, but why not get out on the water and take a cruise on a motorized catamaran, which has been appropriately labeled the ‘ultimate picnic boat’. Jump onboard at Emsworth and cruise around Chichester Harbour whilst enjoying the ‘Deck Café’ where you can sample local produce and sip some fizz as you take in the beautiful views.

Tickets cost from £75 per two-person ticket. See www.cafecruises.co.uk


Dive in

Being a county on the coast it’s not just fun to be on the water, there’s plenty happening underneath it too. There are many diving schools across the whole of the county where you can take a PADI course or just try a dive. Believe it or not, there’s a plethora of dive sites along the coastline including wreck dives at Mulberry Harbour, the Louis wreck and also The Monalina as well as lots of drift and reef dives.

See www.gooddive.com to find out more


Experience days

Ever wanted to be a keeper at a zoo? Getting up close and personal with everything from the monkeys to the meerkats? At Marwell Wildlife you can be keeper for the day, mucking out the giraffes, feeding the rhinos and going behind the scenes with the big cats. They’re taking bookings for next year already on 01962 777988. If birds are more your thing, then a visit to Andover’s Hawk Conservancy is where you can get close to eagles, owls and kites to name a few, on their experience day.

Visit www.hawkconservancy.org


Fun at the (steam) fair

Steam Swings, Steam Chair-O-Planes, Golden Gallopers, a Big Wheel and Haunted House, are just a few of the vintage attractions at Hollycombe in Liphook, Britain’s largest collection of working steam. Explore miniature steam railways, steam road engines, road rollers and farm machinery before enjoying a cuppa and cake in the visitor centre.

You can buy entry tickets online at www.hollycombe.co.uk


Goodwood Festival of Speed

If you’ve never been before, take the opportunity in 2015 on 26th, 27th and 28th of June. Tickets are on sale already at grrc.goodwood.com. This year’s theme will be ‘Flat out and Fearless: Racing on the Edge’ – typifying some of the best drivers and moments from motorsport’s past and present. If you’re a real petrolhead or a lover of the good old days, then don’t miss Goodwood Revival where you can see some of the most iconic classic cars, from 11th to 13th September.



Ever heard of the Brenda Parker Way? Well it stretches for 78 miles from Andover, all the way to Aldershot via Kingsclere, Basingstoke, Silchester, Hook and Fleet. If you fancy a challenge this year, why not plan to tackle the 78 over nine or 10 days. There are nine sections to walk ranging from 6 miles to 11 miles. There are sure to be some good pub stops along the way too.

Download the routes from www.brendaparkerway.hampshire.org.uk


Japanese food

Just one of the many, many cookery courses held at Newlyns Cookery School near Odiham is ‘Japanese with Wakako Guppy’. For five hours the Japanese chef will share her knowledge and demonstrate authentic cooking (£142). If you get the cooking bug you can also try your hand at knife skills, perfect pastry or weekday supper solutions.

Go online to find out more at www.newlyns-farmshop.co.uk


Kite surf

Back down to the coast and for those who love adrenaline sports (and cold water) you should definitely try kite surfing. A course at Hampshire Kite surfing, based at Hill Head between Portsmouth and Southampton, costs £275, but at the end of the three days you should be up and riding away. Learn riding technique, stance, deep water self rescues and advanced body dragging. There’s nothing more invigorating and satisfying – so we’re told.

Find out more about the sport online at hampshirekitesurfing.com


Lasham Gliding

Take to the skies and learn to glide at Lasham Gliding, just outside Alton. You can take a trial lesson to see if you like it for just £80, or go for it and sign up for a Flying Start lesson for £150, where you will go on two flights over two hours. After that, if you’re serious about taking it up as a hobby you could take up the five-day, more intensive course – all in preparation for your first solo flight (£600).

Find out if it’s for you at www.lashamgliding.com


Millers Ark

It’s not just us grown ups that can try something new this year, perhaps the little ones would like a new experience of their own? How about if they were to be a Farmer for a Day? At Miller’s Ark children aged between five and 14 have the responsibility of feeding and watering the animals, mucking out pens, collecting eggs and grooming the animals. Plus, at the end of the day they have a certificate to prove they’re a farmer!

It costs £40 per child. Go online to www.millersark.co.uk to book


Natural history

Did you know that Portsmouth has its very own Natural History Museum? It’s at Cumberland House and it’s free to visit. This is a chance for you to discover the story of all the wildlife on the riverbank, the woods, the marshes and urban areas of the city. From herons, to Brent geese and butterflies, all the displays are designed to be interactive and bring you up close to the natural world.

Find out more about what you can see at www.portsmouthnaturalhistory.co.uk


Open air swimming

Set in the lovely Georgian town of Lymington are the oldest open air sea water baths in the country. They date back to 1833 and are said to have health benefits with their natural mud minerals. They’re not just for swimming, visitors can also use inflatable water toys, paddleboards and there’s even water zorbs. Entry is very reasonable at £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children.

Find out opening times at www.lymingtonseawaterbaths.org.uk


Potty about pottery

Perhaps it’s about time you bought out your creative side – how about a pottery course at Vinegar Hill in Milford on Sea? They run a course over a long three-day weekend and Dave, a thrower himself, will show you how to shape your creation on the wheel using various techniques, as well as hand building, before the RAKU firing day when your pots will be fired ready to take home with you. The experience costs £375, which includes B&B, tuition and lunches.

See www.vinegarhillpottery.co.uk for more information and to book


Queen Eleanor’s Garden

Hidden away in a small space behind the Great Hall of Winchester Castle are the glorious Queen Eleanor’s Gardens. It’s an accurate recreation of an early medieval garden which is inspired by the surviving records of royal gardens. The ‘Eleanor’ in the name refers to two Eleanors, Queen Eleanor of Castile and Queen Eleanor of Provence.

Admission is free but donations are welcome.


Round the Island

It’s one of the biggest sailing events of the year, and in 2015 the Round the Island Race is on 27th June. This is the time to enter, as they just opened the booking at reduced rates for January. If you’re more a spectator than a sailor it’s always an amazing spectacle to watch from the shore. Try St Catherine’s Point or Ryde Pier, or if you are staying on the mainland, try Hurst Point or Gilkicker Point.

To enter, visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk


Sky diving

If you’re feeling brave, and perhaps you want to do something amazing for charity, why not take a dive from 10,000 feet up over the Hampshire countryside? You can experience up to a minute of free fall before landing at Old Sarum Airfield. Go it alone, or do a tandem jump – this is something you will remember for the rest of your life, let alone 2015!

Find out how at www.goskydive.com


Titanic tour

You’ve seen the film, been to the amazing exhibition at the Sea City Museum, now it’s time to get your walking shoes on and discover some little known spots in Southampton which have a Titanic connection. There are lots of them, from the memorials for the postal workers and musicians through to a former sailor’s home, The Grapes public house and Terminus Railway Station.

You can find the downloadable tour at www.seacitymuseum.co.uk


Underwater at The Diving Museum

Gosport is known as the home of the global diving industry, in fact, the co-inventor of the diving helmet, John Deane, lived in Gosport from 1835 to 1845, during which time he discovered the Mary Rose. Go back through diving history at this brilliant museum where you can see underwater cameras, re-breathers and, indeed, those early helmets.

Entry is just £3 for adults and £2 for children. See www.divingmuseum.co.uk to find out more



If this is the year you want to give something back, then how about becoming a volunteer? If you go online, to www.hampshirevolunteers.org.uk there’s lots of helpful advice on the ways you can be involved in the local community. You could be a shop assistant, a counselor, a walk guide, animal handler or gardener, to name but a few. This is a chance to put your skills to even better use helping others.


Wine school

If you’re the person standing in the wine aisle of the supermarket not really knowing what you’re looking for, then you could change all that by going to Hampshire Wine School. Based in Portsmouth, on a wine course you can learn all about grape varieties, how to taste wine and how to pair wine with food. A four-week course is £55. If you’re not a wine fan, they also do beer, whisky and gin tastings!

Find out more at www.hampshirewineschool.com


X marks the spot

We can’t promise you’ll uncover any actual treasure, but all over the county there are trails to follow where you can find out all about your local area at the same time as getting some exercise. Try a murder mystery trail in Alton, Eastleigh, Lyndhurst, Minstead and Ringwood, or a treasure hunt trail in Basingstoke, Emsworth, Hythe or Lymington. There are 31 altogether – best get started!

Visit www.treasuretrails.co.uk



If you’re starting from scratch, there’s no better place to learn to sail than on the Hampshire coast. We have loads of sailing centres and the Royal Yachting Association is based right here in Hamble. If it’s all a bit too energetic for you however, you can always charter a yacht for a day or even a weekend. 
Try www.solentyachtcharter.com to find out more information



Ever fancied climbing inside a huge inflatable ball full of water and rolling down a hill? Well you can do just that in Hampshire for £15 per person. That’s right, two of you can clamber in at the same time and share the terrifying experience. It’s something you must try once, honest.

See hampshireadventureactivities.co.uk for booking and more information



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