Visit quintessential rural England - Test Valley
Have you visited us yet?
Test Valley is quintessential rural England. The tranquil, gin-clear water of the one of the country’s most renowned fly-fishing rivers - the River Test - gently meanders through beautifully subtle down land landscape.
Test Valley encompasses delightful villages as well as the historic market towns of Andover in the north, Romsey in the south and Stockbridge in between.
You will love our history and culture – both ancient and modern - which include many Iron Age hillforts and the Sprat and Winkle Line, which has been a canal, a railway line and now is the long distance Test Way footpath connecting Coombe Gibbet down to Eling Tide Mill on Southampton Water.
Come and explore Romsey’s medieval streets and King’s Johns House museum in the shadow of the great Norman Abbey. Florence Nightingale and the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, (Mr Thomas the Tank Engine), both lived in this timeless English market town.
Enjoy wandering among the stalls on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and don’t forget to visit one of Hampshire’s busiest Farmers’ Markets on the first Sunday of the month. If you have an appetite for locally grown, mouth-watering food, fine wines and casked ales, you’re going to enjoy a taste sensation. From honey to chilli oils, watercress to water buffalo, pasture raised beef and artisan cakes – there’s plenty on offer for tasting, not forgetting trout from the famous chalk streams of the River Test.
At the heart of Test Valley lies Stockbridge with its wide Georgian High Street, beneath which tributaries of the River Test flow south to the sea. Its early role on a drovers’ road, where flocks of sheep would be driven from Wales to London, is epitomised by The Drovers House which still has its sign in Welsh.
Today, Stockbridge offers a wide variety of independent shops from an art galleries, interior design studios and boutiques to specialist food shops including a fishmonger, greengrocer and butcher.
Tea rooms, bistros, pubs and hotels offer local fare to suit every taste. Stockbridge’s link with the River Test, and in particular the brown trout, is celebrated at the Trout ’n About festival, which takes place every August.
Voted Britain’s Best Foodie Street, local produce is all part of the visitor experience, be it beer from nearby Romsey, trout from the River Test or buffalo burgers from Broughton Down.
Andover, in the north of the borough is our largest town. Its origins are Anglo Saxon but the town has a fascinating Viking story involving the King of England and their Danegeld tax!
Much of Andover’s present character reflects its prominence as an important 18th century coaching town. Many of its buildings maintain their charming style and features from this period. Most notable among these are the imposing Grade II listed Georgian Guildhall and the Star and Garter Hotel. Modern day Andover has a compact and bustling town centre, with a very pleasant pedestrian environment boasting favourite high street shops and an array of specialist independent shops and boutiques. The town has a fantastic street scene with inns, pubs, restaurants, cafés and coffee shops, some of which sit alongside the tranquil River Anton as it weaves through the town centre, making it an ideal place to relax and meet with friends.
Test Valley boasts four outstanding gardens. The National Trust owns Mottisfont House and Gardens, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Houghton Lodge Gardens and Longstock Park Water Gardens, so whether you’re a keen, green-fingered gardener, someone who admires and enjoys the beauty of blooms or are perhaps simply looking for somewhere stunning to walk – the gardens are waiting to be discovered, no matter the season.
Walking is the ideal way to explore the beautiful villages of Test Valley. There are walks of varying lengths catering for all abilities from imposing woodland, riverside strolls or rambling hillsides…all you have to do is choose which route to take. Rest assured there will be a cosy pub or two along the way so you can recharge before heading off on the next part of your adventure.
After a day out in the fresh air you deserve to relax, so kick off your boots and enjoy a nice local pint or glass of Test Valley sparkling wine in one of the area’s many village pubs, before retreating to your B&B, cottage or hotel.
Once rejuvenated you will find there is plenty to entertain you such as live music, laugh-a-minute comedy, open-air productions and fabulous theatre. Whatever your taste, Test Valley provides a variety of entertainment for an exhilarating night out.