Things to see and do in Hook
PUBLISHED: 10:45 12 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:45 12 August 2016
Hampshire County Council
Brewhouses, bees, bakeries (and bats)... The stories behind the town discovered by Emma Caulton
What’s it all about?
Hook, an ‘overgrown village’ in the heart of Hampshire, is a place of making and doing. This is the home of the Baker Boys - creating innovative breads and bakes such as goat’s cheese and roasted pear focaccia. You can find them at many a market across the county. Hook was also the starter home for BeeGood, an award-winning skincare range and the only British premium skincare brand to use exclusively British beeswax, honey and propolis (look out for their latest youth-enhancing collection). Then there’s Andwell Brewing Company, run by Adam Komrower and his wife, Helen, who have been brewing their award-winning crafted ales since 2008. Hook itself has developed into a business hub with many big names (the likes of Virgin Media and Lenovo) attracting visitors to the area. It has something of the appearance of a modern university campus with glass-fronted buildings set in landscaped greenery, however its surrounded by farmland and delightful hidden villages.
Morning: Tour (and tipple)
Book a brewery tour at Andwell Brewing Company, located in an old trout smoke house. Find out what goes into making these quality ales. Sample floor-malted, hand-raked barley, take in the sweet aroma of hops and see the fermentation process, followed by beer tasting. Opening late summer is a new addition – The Brewhouse restaurant with views over the River Lyde and surrounding countryside. Combine with a visit to the brewery’s new shop. For more information call 01256 761044 or visit www.andwells.com/brewerytours.
Lunch: The country pub
This area has the country pub experience down to a fine art. Take the opportunity to enjoy a walk or just settle down and let time dissipate pleasantly.
The Hogget describes itself as a country pub, albeit conveniently positioned on London Road, between Hook and Basingstoke and close to the M3 Junction five (for anyone in search of a ‘service’ stop.) It is highly commended for its food, welcome and cosy interior.
If you want to head further away from the madding crowd, try the Fox and Goose in Greywell. This traditional country local with good pub grub and free camping is found down narrows lanes running through verdant green tunnels and past old cottages.
Or try Rotherwick - a comfortable stroll from Hook of about two miles. The village has been a location for TV series including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. It successfully supports two pubs – both gems. Popular Coach & Horses is recommended for generous portions of homemade food with an emphasis on local produce, warm welcome and south-facing gardens. The Falcon has a sunny terrace, contemporary country interior and innovative menu. Other country inns worth seeking out include The Crown Inn at Old Basing – described by the Good Food Guide as delivering ‘classy retro pub food’. Further afield is The Shoulder of Mutton at Hazeley – visitors are currently raving about the new outdoor pizza oven – and the Leather Bottle at Mattingley.
Afternoon: Castles (and bats)
Step into the past at Basing House in Old Basing. Once upon a time this was a Tudor palace and castle that rivalled Hampshire Court, but it was razed to the ground by Cromwell. Basing House now offers a great events programme including Archaeology Weekend (27-29 August 2016), Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in the walled garden (2 September 2016), Tudor Day (17 September 2016) and Civil War living history weekend (1-2 October 2016). For further information call 01256 463965 or visit hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/basing-house.
More castle ruins are found on a bend of the River Whitewater. Odiham Castle is one of only three strongholds built by King John (c 1207) and the only octagonal keep in Britain. It was besieged by the French, prison to a Scottish king and at the centre of rebellion. Now it is a tranquil spot popular with families and walkers. The Castle can be reached along Basingstoke Canal’s tow path, past the eerie entrance to Greywell Tunnel which, now blocked, has become a bat haven. Large numbers reportedly swarm at the entrance during autumn, including rare Bechstein’s and Barbastelle bats, and during winter it’s home to the second largest hibernating population of Natterer’s bat in Europe.
Evening: In grand style
Stay at Tylney Hall for classic English luxury. This impressive Victorian country house has many glories including a Great Hall panelled in Italian walnut with a splendid ceiling brought, piece by piece, from a Florentine palace. The grounds are a particular feature and there are tours and open days to appreciate the series of gardens, such as the Italian Garden, Rose Garden, Azalea Garden, Orchard and Water Garden, the latter created by influential 19th century garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool in a walled courtyard (described by The Times as one of the coolest pools in the country), gym and indoor pool, while golf can be arranged at adjoining Tylney Park Golf Club. There are activities for tots and teens, and the family pooch is welcome, too.
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