Location guides: what to do in and around Forest Mere

What to do in and around Forest Mere

A secluded lakeside resort, Champneys Forest Mere is the perfect place to kick back and relax. Located in Liphook, a Hampshire village in the stunning South Downs, the manor house is surrounded by 160 acres of woodland, lush green fields and a tranquil lake.

It’s regarded as one of the best spas in Hampshire and is where your toughest decisions will be whether you want to enjoy a body massage or a facial treatment.

If you’re looking to visit our Forest Mere resort for a short break and are planning to stay in the area for a few days; here’s some interesting tips and advice about the different things you can do in this picturesque area of England.

Enjoy some spa treatments or fitness classes

Spa treatments and fitness classes at Forest Mere

There’s a variety of great days out to be had in Hampshire and at Champneys we’re proud that our Forest Mere resort is one of the county’s top attractions. You can enjoy a well-deserved rest by going on spa days or boost your energy levels with something a little more strenuous.

Set in 160 acres, Forest Mere’s spa resort offers up plenty of activities from cycling routes and walking trails to a 25-metre indoor and 15-metre outdoor swimming pool, 43 treatment rooms and a state-of-the-art outdoor thermal suite; which houses a hydropool and relaxation area, whirlpool, sauna, steam room, mud chamber and thalassotherapy pool . If you’re looking for an energetic break away, there are two fitness studios and up to 20 complimentary exercise classes per day.

Head to the picturesque Chawton House

Chawton House

Chawton House is a grand Elizabethan manor in the picturesque village of Chawton in Hampshire. The House is a rare example of a surviving country house from this period, with its central 'Great Hall', huge fireplaces and oak panelled walls.

It is also a great place to stop if you’re exploring literary Hampshire - in the Regency period it was known by Jane Austen as 'the Great House' and she would happily "dawdle away an hour" here, strolling in its extensive grounds or taking inspiration in the library. The estate had been inherited by her brother Edward, having been adopted by wealthy distant relatives looking for an heir. Jane, along with her sister and mother, were installed by Edward in a cottage on the estate and finally had stability and a place to call home. Today the great house is a shrine, not only to the work of Jane Austen but to many other early female writers - with its extensive library collection of rare women's works.

During your visit you can spend time soaking up the atmosphere of the house, learning about the remarkable women represented in the collection, meandering around the walled garden and wilderness or taking a refreshment in the tearoom, housed in the old kitchen.

Swing down the treetop adventure at Go Ape Alice Holt

Go Ape Alice Holt

Go Ape Alice Holt is an adventurer’s paradise as it is teeming with opportunities for exploration and home to Tree Top Adventure and Tree Top Junior.

Go Ape’s Tree Top Adventure is home to a 126-metre zip and the 14m platform and is enough to strike tremors through the most hardened of Tarzans, but these are just a small sample of what’s in store at Go Ape Alice Holt as there are 14 crossings.

A spokesperson for Go Ape Alice Holt told us about some of their top attractions, “We can’t think of a better way to experience the South Downs than scaling tree to tree at heights well north of 10 metres, with 14 gut-wrenching crossings for you to negotiate if tackling the Tree Top Adventure. Alice Holt is a gold-mine for family fun too, which is exactly why you should discover Tree Top Junior - ideal for the budding mini adventurers in your tribe.

“If you’re a fan of Gladiator, Skyfall or Avengers: Age of Ultron, Go Ape is literally right next to where they filmed scenes for these blockbusters. We can’t promise you’ll be able to fly, but you’ll certainly feel like a superhero soaring along the 126-metre zip line!”

Enjoy the UK’s largest heritage fairground

Hollycombe Steam in the Country

Hollycombe Steam in the Country is the largest traditional Heritage Fairground in Britain and includes a fully working steam fairground, narrow gauge and miniature steam railways.

The collection, which is located in Liphook Hampshire (on the Sussex border), is run by volunteers who keep the Edwardian Fairground working as it did over a century ago - entertaining children and adults alike. Beyond the fairground and steam railways, there is grade 2* listed gardens that you can explore and a steam farm and beam engine with a waterwheel.

The park’s gates open at 11am (rides from 12.30pm) and the last admission is 4pm. Saturday evenings to 20th October the gates open at 6pm and rides from 7pm. The fairground is not open during the day on Saturdays.

Walk through a historic woodland garden at Ramster Gardens

Ramster Gardens is an enchanted historic woodland garden nestled within the Surrey Hills, renowned for its beauty and tranquillity. You can explore the natural winding paths to see spring delights including endless carpets of bluebells and drifts of daffodils and primroses beneath towering bushes of camellias and ancient magnolia trees. 

There is also a collection of Azaleas and Rhododendrons which burst into colour throughout May and the fiery shades of reds and russets which transform the garden in autumn. The garden and teahouse are open in Spring and Autumn.

Go on an adventure in the South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park

Whether it’s stargazing, looking for wildlife or going on another adventure, exploring the South Downs National Park is certainly one of the top things to do in Hampshire.

The South Downs being on the doorstep of Forest Mere means that you can go out in the National Park one day and then enjoy a luxurious massage to recover from your adventures the following day.

The South Downs National Park is a great spot to go stargazing as it is the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve. The likes of Devils Dyke, Buster Hill and Bignor Hill are all remote locations that are renowned as great locations for viewing the Milky Way.

The national park has an abundance of well-known attractions with lots of amazing walks on offer and cycling routes too.

See a hidden gem in the form of The Sculpture Park

For art lovers, collectors, sculptors, photographers and nature enthusiasts, The Sculpture Park, Churt, near Farnham is a hidden gem. From the gates, you may not expect the treasures beneath, but on entering the 10-acre site you are transported into a magical world of water gardens, arboretum and incredible sculptures.

Sian Gray from The Sculpture Park told us a little bit about the park. “Hidden away in this area of outstanding natural beauty, over 1000 sculptures from over 300 artists are on display for all to see. Many marvel at the sheer number, size and diversity of the works, finding something for every taste, style and budget.

“A two-mile trail winds and weaves through the rhododendrons, past the lakes and over the streams. Steps have been carefully cut into the hills and bridges have been constructed across the babbling brooks.

“A folly nestles above a waterfall, a giant tarantula towers over a grassed picnic area and many pieces of sculptural furniture create the hundreds of photo opportunities throughout the park.

Three lakes complement the park's diverse landscape and are home to an abundance of water creatures and unusual sculptural features.”

The attraction is open all year round and every day, with the evolving seasons, it creates an ever-changing landscape.

Why should you visit Forest Mere?

Don’t just take our word for visiting our Forest Mere resort and its surrounding attractions. Here you can see what some of the other locals have to say.

Louisa Carpenter, who is the deputy house manager at Chawton House, explains why people should explore Forest Mere.

“There is so much to explore in the Forest Mere surrounding area - at the fringe of the South Downs, we are lucky to be surrounded by natural beauty in most directions. From cosy pubs in winter to beautiful open space in summer – it’s a stunning year-round destination, with so much to see and do. There are quintessential 'chocolate box' villages such as Chawton, Selborne and Alresford to explore, and plenty of woodland with sweeping views across the valley on nature trails such as at Harting Down, the Devil's Punchbowl or Alice Holt.”

Simon from Hollycombe Steam in the Country, adds, “On a personal note many years ago I worked for Forest Mere and have fond memories of the place. The landscape around Forest Mere is truly stunning and easy to see why so many people are drawn to the area with beautiful surroundings making for a perfect place to relax and forget about all of life’s stresses.”

Talking about why they love Forest Mere and the surrounding area, a spokesperson for the Ramster Gardens, says, “We love Forest Mere for its beautiful, tranquil lakeside location in picturesque Hampshire. You can’t fail to come away feeling relaxed. There is so much to do in the surrounding area too and being within easy reach of the South Downs means there are lots of great walks to be done in the area.”

Sian Gray from the Sculpture Park loves the natural beauty and landscapes of the area as well as the rest and relaxation that can be had at our resort.

“This is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Landscapes are lush and green with unspoilt views across fields and woodlands. Cities and towns are clean and welcoming with every retail outlet you could wish for. Villages are pretty and idyllic with friendly local people and tempting pubs. Luxury is never far away and if you are in need of pampering, Champneys offer rest and relaxation and also scrub you up so you pop out like a freshly made button.

“In my opinion, it is one of the best places on earth!”

To recap, here’s a list of what you can do in and around Forest Mere:

•Champneys Forest Mere Resort

•Chawton House

•Go Ape Alice Holt

•Hollycombe Steam in the Country

•Ramster Gardens

•South Downs National Park

•The Sculpture Park