Some of the best things to see and do in Bishop’s Waltham

PUBLISHED: 14:22 23 July 2019

An aerial view of Bishop's Waltham Palace (Photo by Damian Grady/Historic England)

An aerial view of Bishop's Waltham Palace (Photo by Damian Grady/Historic England)

Historic England 2004. All rights reserved.

Head to the market town of Bishop’s Waltham for medieval heritage, beautiful scenery and the perfect pancake pit stop

Medieval meanderings

Start with a trip back in time at Bishop's Waltham's most famous asset, the grand Palace; during the Middle Ages its residents were among the richest churchmen in Europe. Ramble around the remains, which include the ruins of the Great Hall, which once welcomed notable guests such as Queen Mary I, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII.

Built between the 12th and 14th century by Bishop Henry of Blois, brother of King Stephen, much remains of the building.

The Bishop's Waltham Town Museum is also located within the palace's old lodging range. Delve into the town's rich history and feast upon the archives and artefacts left behind from generations gone-by.

Three other castles and abbeys are located within nine miles of Bishop's Waltham Palace, so you can make a day of it and explore the magnificent Titchfield Abbey, Southwick Priory and Porchester Castle.

Entry is Free. Open April - September, 10am-6pm daily. October to March the grounds are open at the weekend from 10am-4pm. During the summer the Farmhouse Museum opens at the weekend from 2-4pm.

The pancake pit stop

In-the-know locals head to Josie's for delicious coffee, freshly-made food and a buzzing atmosphere. This independent, family-run coffee shop is open seven days a week for a lazy breakfast, lunch and delicious cake.

Table bookings are not required, and you may need to wait 10 minutes to get a seat, but it's worth it for the pancakes alone. The batter is made fresh every day and a variety of flavours are on the menu, including seasonal fruit compote and streaky bacon pancakes with lashings of maple syrup (price from £5.95 for 1 stack).

Josie's can also be found in the old English capital of Winchester and tucked just off the main square in Petersfield.

Just a short drive away…

Just a 15-minute drive from Bishop's Waltham you'll find Hensting Alpacas. During the warmer months, you can join an alpaca walking experience and get up-close and personal with these beautiful and charismatic animals.

Meander through the 12-acres of grassland, alongside the Itchen Navigation, a part of the river that was once used to transport goods by barge to Winchester, London and beyond. Keep your eye out for kingfishers, dragonflies, butterflies and otters.

Morning walks for two people, with one alpaca usually costs £55.

A taste of the Med

Giorgio's is a little family-run gem dishing up freshly-cooked Mediterranean cuisine, accompanied by a great wine list, beers and a cracking craft gin menu.

Taking inspiration from the family's Greek-Cypriot roots, you'll find delicious traditional dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, courgette and feta fritters with tzatziki and deep-fried squid. Pasta and pizza dishes are also on the menu, alongside a good selection of vegan options.

Set on the High Street, you can expect exposed brick, wooden beams and a great setting for a fun night with friends or family.

End the day

Located a short stroll from Bishop's Waltham Palace ruins in the Square, the Crown Inn is a 16th century coaching inn and a great place to stay, with its eight rooms, each named after French ships or admirals. Expect luxury Egyptian cotton linen and comfy mattresses in the rooms and a selection of outstanding cask-conditioned ales and an exclusive wine list in the pub downstairs.

The menu offers some local Hampshire fare and includes dishes like Owton's rump steak, served with watercress and pickled shallot salad. Kids are well catered for with their own menu.

A town for walkers

Bishop's Waltham has plenty of walks that show off its beautiful, undulating landscape and wildlife-rich nature reserves.

- Heritage walk: Starting at the station roundabout, this four-mile walk takes you back through time with sights including Roman-dated clay pits with brickwork dating back to the 1800s.

- Country walk: This slightly longer, five mile walk through the countryside explores local meadows, where you can see an abundance of seasonal flowers and wildlife.

- Nature walk: This three mile walk starts in the town centre and leads to a local nature reserve. The Moors is regarded as one of the most spectacular inland wetland sites across Hampshire and is the location of the main source of the River Hamble. Expect to see numerous wild flowers including ox-eye daisy, wild carrot and the green-winged orchid, which provides the perfect home for the common blue butterfly. Further along the route you will come to The Mill Pond, and Waltham Chase Mill, which is said to occupy a site mentioned in the Domesday Book.

- Pilgrim's Trail: For a longer journey, why not walk the path the Miquelot pilgrims took to go and worship in Normandy? The 155-mile Medieval Pilgrim's Trail starts from the shrine of St Swithun at Winchester Cathedral, weaves across the beautiful Hampshire countryside, leading all the way to Portsmouth and then on to Mont Saint Michel in Normandy.

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