Castles, ruins and forts

Donnington Castle  (Newbury, 10 mins from Chieveley)

Donnington Castle, with its imposing twin-towered 14th-century gatehouse and giant earthworks, offers a slice of English Civil War history together with good views over Newbury and the countryside to the south.
English poet Chaucer is alleged to have visited the castle and it seems it once belonged to his son. For a more active visit cycle from Snelsmore Common, or indeed from Chieveley via Bussocks Wood.

Stonehenge  (Amesbury, 50 mins)

World famous and less than an hour from Chieveley. For all the hype it remains a remarkable sight with an intriguing mystery surrounding its creation. However, Stonehenge is very popular with tourists in summer and access to the stones is prohibited. Consider visiting Avebury as a less crowded and more accessible alternative.

Old Sarum  (Near Salisbury, 1 hr 10 mins)

Old Sarum is the site of the original city of Salisbury, built as a huge Iron Age fort 5,000 years ago and then used by Romans, Normans and Saxons alike. It is still possible to climb the ramparts for spectacular views over the current Salisbury with its skyline-dominating cathedral. Old Sarum was notorious as a rotten borough, returning an MP to parliament for hundreds of years until 1832, even though the site was derelict and nobody lived there! Lovely Salisbury is 2 miles away and a great place to lunch, explore its old streets and admire the cathedral.

Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote  (Near Witney, 50 mins)

Extensive ruins of a 15th century manor house in a picturesque riverside setting. Combine with a visit to the lovely market town of Witney nearby.

Porchester Castle  (Fareham, 1hr)

A large and impressive 3rd century Roman castle in a commanding location overlooking the Solent. Porchester Castle one of the best preserved Roman shore forts. Henry V departed for his famous away win at Agincourt from the castle and it was a cramped home to 5,000 prisoners during the Napoleonic wars. Keep an eye out for the phantom 'Grey Monk' and the dark-haired woman tending a grave, both of whom continue to haunt the castle to this day, allegedly. For a truly ruinous day (!) why not drop in and see nearby Tichfield Abbey on your way home.

Titchfield Abbey  (Fareham, 1 hr)

The ruins of a 13th century abbey, once the home of studious and well-behaved monks. After it was shut down by Henry VIII Titchfield Abbey was converted into a Tudor mansion. Combine with a visit to Porchester Castle and the Hamble estuary.

Netley Abbey  (Southampton, 1hr)

The most complete surviving Cistercian monastery in southern England, with almost all the walls of its 13th-century church still standing, along with many monastic buildings. Netley Abbey has inspired many Romantic writers and poets over the years.

Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre  (Near Tadley, 30 mins)

If you are interested in archaeology or Romans then this one is for you. The Silchester site was originally a tribal centre of the Iron Age but later became the large and important Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum. Abandoned in the 5th century the town has never been built over and so archaeologists have been able to piece together its development and layout in an unhindered way.

Wayland's Smithy  (Near Uffington, 35 mins)

In an atmospheric clearing of beech trees on the ancient Ridgeway track lies this Neolithic long barrow. It contains the remains of 14 people buried over 5,500 years ago. Legend has it the Saxon smith-god Wayland inhabited the site and any traveller whose horse had lost a shoe could leave the animal and a silver coin on a stone at Wayland's Smithy. When he returned next morning he would find that his horse has been re-shod and the money gone. Modern day pagans still leave fruit, nuts, seeds and flowers at the site for the benefit of Wayland.

Avebury  (Near Marlborough, 40 mins)

Many say Avebury outperforms Stonehenge as the most impressive and atmospheric prehistoric site in Britain. It is certainly easier to visit and unlike Stonehenge offers visitors full access to the site. This World Heritage Site, with its great standing stones and circular ditches, partly includes the village of Avebury where a National Trust café offers lunch and refreshments, as do several pubs.

Wolvesey Castle  (Winchester, 40 mins)

Wolvesey has been an important residence of the wealthy and powerful Bishops of Winchester since Anglo-Saxon times. The castle's extensive ruins stand next to Winchester Cathedral. Visitors use it as a great excuse to take a look at the lovely city of Winchester with its historic buildings, boutique shops and arcades.

Hurst Castle  (Near Lymington, New Forest, 1 hr 30 mins)

Hurst Castle sits in a commanding position on a spit of land jutting out at the entrance to the Solent. Great views from the ramparts across to the Isle of Wight. Walk out to the castle on the giant pebble bank and take the water taxi back through the moored boats of the estuary. Lunch or tea in Lymington. More information here.