Mid-Hants Railway - Watercress Line

Mid-Hants Railway - Watercress Line

Alton is located on the northern side of the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It's a pretty little Georgian market town around which are several visitor attractions including The Watercress Line steam railway, Jane Austen's House in Chawton to the south, and Gilbert White's House Museum in Selborne. Stay in charming old B&B inns or church conversions in Alton. The town offers a range of character accommodation options perfect for exploring Jane Austen Country and the surrounding Downs. The countryside around Alton is well worth exploring with its beautiful chalk escarpments covered in luxuriant woodlands. Alton is also one of the main station stops on The Watercress Steam Railway Line which runs through the East Hampshire countryside.

Curtis Museum

Curtis Museum

Alton Town & Attractions

Alton today is a small market town with a good selection of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants, and a pretty High Street lined with many Georgian buildings. Alton has been well established since Saxon times. Saxon artefacts unearthed in the town include the famous Alton Buckle discovered in a warrior's grave along with a shield, sword and spear head. The buckle is now on display at the Curtis Museum in the town and is considered to be the finest example of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship in Hampshire. Alton’s 11th century St Lawrence Church was the site of the English Civil War ‘Battle of Alton and in the old graveyard sits the grave of ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ who was brutally murdered in the town.

The Curtis Museum holds an outstanding collection which includes a Roman enamelled cup discovered at Selbourne and mentioned in Gilbert White's Natural History of Selbourne. Exhibitions explore 10 million years of local history from prehistoric tools to the Battle of Alton in 1693. There is also the Gallery of Childhood with an array of childhood toys from the 18th century on display.

The Watercress Line - Mid Hants Railway

Alton is on the main Network Rail south west line. Alongside the regular trains that run through the county is The Watercress Line - a restored steam railway that runs for ten miles between Alton and Alresford. Steam trains depart from Platform 3 at Alton. Other station stops are at Ropley, Medstead and Four Marks.

Alton Town Centre

Alton Town Centre

East Hampshire Countryside

To the south of Alton the Hampshire countryside stretches for miles. The area is known as the Wealden Greensands and is typified by vast woodlands on high chalk escarpments or hangers as they're known locally, and the heathlands that stretch across the border into Surrey. The majority of the countryside here lies within the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The chalk downlands in this area are also part of the South Downs that stretch into Surrey.

Walking and cycling is the best way to explore the East Hampshire countryside. A 22 mile long cycle route runs through the East Hampshire AONB - pick up leaflet guides to the cycle trail locally. It starts in Petersfield and takes you round the majority of the East Hampshire countryside including Butser Hill, one of the highest points in Hampshire, from which you can get some fantastic views of the surrounding woodlands and countryside and even to the coast at Portsmouth.

Butser Hill is also a National Nature Reserve important for its large area of chalk grassland, heath and woodland. Over thirty species of butterfly have been identified from here including the Duke of Burgundy fritillary and the chalkhill blue. Not far near Charlton is Butser Ancient Farm which was set up in the 1970s as an archaeological research project into Iron Age farming techniques. The farm is open to visitors.

Jane Austen's House at Chawton near Alton

Jane Austen's House at Chawton near Alton

Cycling & Walking

The circular Alton Off-Road Cycle Trail starts from Chawton Park Wood south east of the town centre and takes in Jane Austen's House in Chawton, Gilbert White's House in Selborne and Hanger's Way long distance path. There are plenty of walking routes in the Hampshire countryside around Alton. Long distance routes crossing this part of Hampshire include the South Downs Way that starts in Eastbourne in Sussex and ends in Winchester. The trail runs for 160 miles along old drovers roads over the chalk downs and is open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

St Swithun's Way is another long distance trail from Winchester through the north Hampshire countryside to Farnham in Surrey. It follows the pilgrimage route from Winchester, once the religious centre of Saxon Wessex, to Canterbury in Kent. St Swithun's shrine and Alfred the Great's tomb housed in Winchester Cathedral brought pilgrims from all over the country. St Swithun's Way runs from Winchester Cathedral through the Itchen Valley famous for its watercress production, west through Jane Austen Country around Alton and Chawton where she lived and where you can visit her house, then the route follows the River Wey through to the attractive market town of Farnham in Surrey where you pick up the North Downs Way which continues on to Canterbury.

Accommodation in Alton

  • Alton   (4.6 miles from the centre of Alton)
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    £25
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    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 207 reviews
    Rating from 207 reviews
    Four Marks cheap hotel accommodation with great prices, comfortable ensuite rooms with optional Wireless broadband internet access. Rooms from £25 available.
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    Rating from 207 reviews
  • Alton   (7.2 miles from the centre of Alton)
     
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 224 reviews
    Rating from 224 reviews
    Located in Alton (South Downs), The Angel A Citylodge Hotel is within the vicinity of Gilbert White's House and Garden and The Oates and Jane Austen's House Museum. This 4-star ...
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  • Farnham   (7.8 miles from the centre of Alton)
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    £89
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 1015 reviews
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    Overlooking Frensham Great Pond, this 15th-century country house features a bar and traditional restaurant. The Best Western Frensham Pond Hotel is just a 10-minute drive from F...
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  • Alton   (2.2 miles from the centre of Alton)
     
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 109 reviews
    Rating from 109 reviews
    Fantastic East Worldham inn, near Alton. Comfortably furnished, reasonably priced rooms, some with en-suite facilities. Welcoming, friendly bar, car parking.
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    Rating from 109 reviews
  • Farnham   (6.7 miles from the centre of Alton)
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    £650
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 114 reviews
    Rating from 114 reviews
    Rediscover the art of relaxed living at Northbrook Park Mews. Set within the peaceful and tranquil grounds of the Northbrook Estate, your rest and relaxation is assured. The...
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    Self Catering
  • Alton   (4.5 miles from the centre of Alton)
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    £104
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 29 reviews
    Rating from 29 reviews
    With a stay at Flossie's B&B in Alton (South Downs), you'll be close to Gilbert White's House and Garden and The Oates. This bed & breakfast is within the vicinity of Allen Gall...
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  • Alton   (0.4 miles from the centre of Alton)
    Prices from
    £22
    Per person B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 329 reviews
    Rating from 329 reviews
    A stay at Alton House Hotel places you in the heart of Alton, walking distance from Curtis Museum and Allen Gallery. This romantic hotel is within the vicinity of Gilbert White'...
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    Rating from 329 reviews
  • Alton   (0.2 miles from the centre of Alton)
     
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 402 reviews
    Rating from 402 reviews
    Located in Alton (South Downs), Swan Hotel is minutes from Curtis Museum and Allen Gallery. This hotel is within the vicinity of Gilbert White's House and Garden and The Oates a...
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  • Alton   (4.0 miles from the centre of Alton)
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    £28
    Per person B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 127 reviews
    Rating from 127 reviews
    3 star accommodation at comfortable inn close to Alton at Selbourne. Families welcome, onsite restaurant, conference facilities
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  • Alton   (0.2 miles from the centre of Alton)
     
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 28 reviews
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    ROOM ONLY RATES BREAKFAST NOT INCLUDED PLEASE NOTE WE ARE IN HAMPSHIRE AND ARE 185 MILES FROM ALTON TOWERS The oldest part of The Crown Hotel is thought to have been bui...
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    Rating from 28 reviews