We’re lucky to have a number of stunning rivers flowing through the county with plenty of wildlife. Here are six walks we’d recommend, in no specific order!

River Test – Chilbolton Cow Common and Wherwell

Parking up at the playing field car park for free, we love the walk which takes you past all the cottages and their unique features, the village pub, and then heads over the magical long wooden bridge and the crystal clear waters of the test to Chilbolton Cow Common.

This stunning natural beauty spot with small bridges over crystal clear water makes for splashing opportunities for the kids during Summer! There’s a good playground to use up any leftover energy the kids may have, and if you bring some nets, who knows what the little ones may catch.

We’d recommend popping by Chilborton Village Shop & Tea Room, or even Longstoke Farm Shop & Café, for a complete trip out with the family!

Itchen River – Riverside Park, Southampton

This fantastic park runs alongside the River Itchen and it’s a fantastic place for a walk in all seasons. It’s got a riverside path to walk or cycle, running from Cobden Bridge to Mansbridge with fantastic views of the wildlife (which sometimes includes seals!), locals enjoying various vessels, and some great sunsets…

There are two large playgrounds across the park, tennis courts, a skate park, football pitches, and plenty more so it’s popular with families. Perfect for those with young babies too as the riverside path is nice and smooth for buggies.

🅿️ The biggest car park is riverside park car park, which is also next to the non-tidal side of the river so if you want to head out on a paddleboard or kayak this is an easy spot.

Beaulieu River – Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard

This family-friendly walk in this beautiful area of the New Forest is a firm favourite with us. It is a 5-mile walk from the village to Bucklers Hard and back in total, and follows a footpath along through countryside and forests with nearby views of the winding river alongside the path.

Beaulieu is a lovely village with some great independents and they regularly get donkeys strolling through the village. The Bucklers Hard area is free to enter for the general public and there are wide open green spaces to sit and enjoy a picnic or enjoy the nearby pub The Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard. There are great views from the grass area of Bucklers Hard Marina and the River itself with yachts sailing past as well as plenty of wildlife.

🅿️ Beaulieu public car park which is pay and display and right in the centre of the village.

There are also free public loos by the car park, as well as a handy water bottle refill spot.

Buggys/wheelchairs – We saw plenty of buggys and it’s a pretty flat footpath.

Avon River – Castle Hill

A firm favourite for families with younger children, this is a 2.5-mile walk which takes around 1.5 hours and has great views, through the forest and past streams that flow out from the Avon.

Streams to splash in, bridges to cross, wildlife to spot – what more could we want?

We saw cows, horses, donkeys, goats and wild deer en route, wild woodlands, amazing views over the Avon Valley, wild blackberries to munch, open fields… We like to have a picnic and enjoy lunch by a little stream, one of the many streams running off the river Avon.

SP62LN for free car park

Itchen Navigation walk – Eastleigh to Winchester

The Itchen Navigation is a 10.4 mile long disused canal that runs from Winchester in the north to Woodmill in Southampton in the south. It was used during the industrial age to carry goods to and from the sea but this was abandoned long ago. I completed the walk with my hiking buddy, my oldest daughter and although its pretty flat its still a long walk some parts more interesting than others. Chris Packham did a tv programme focused on the walk and his childhood memories of doing it. There are lots of refreshment stops along the way – parts of it can get pretty flooded if the weather is really wet so be aware!

River Hamble walk – Swanwick to Warsash

River Hamble at low tide for a fun family walk

🅿️ Swanwick shore car park, £4 for 4 hours.

Alongside the river you will spot interesting birds and wildlife, can skim some stones on the small beach at low tide and spot old shipwrecks on the shoreline, as well as some rather fancy houses lining the storefront.

When arriving in Warsash, you can take the little pink ferry… a Hampshire icon across to Hamble! Dog-friendly of course, and kids always enjoy it. Takes around 5 minutes. 

The walk from Swanwick shore car park to Warsash where you take the pink ferry is 3.5km.

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