Picturesque and Historic Hart
Nestling in the north-east corner of Hampshire lies the beautiful district of Hart-more than 84 square miles of lush green wooded landscape, heathland, common and arable land. There are a few small thriving towns and many parishes of unspoiled villages and pretty hamlets.
Hart has the advantage of excellent road and rail communications with London and the south coast yet much of the area is undeveloped and "undiscovered".
This page is intended to guide explorers further into Hart District's countryside and history.
From its northern boundary with Berkshire, the land rises to around 700 feet above sea level where the southern boundary meets the North Downs. Three small rivers cross the area on their way north to join the River Thames. One of these, the Blackwater, forms part of the boundary with Surrey and Berkshire. The Whitewater flows from the western side into the River Hart from which the District takes its name.
Hart contrasts greatly with the modern growth of its neighbours Basingstoke to the west and Aldershot and Farnborough to the east. Residential and light industrial development has taken place in recent years, concentrated around the main towns of Fleet and Yateley to the north and at Hook village.
The rest of Hart is a haven for those loving peace and quiet. The landscape is uninterrupted by huge housing estates or industry. Hart has protected its rural heritage despite the M3 motor way running east to west centrally through the District and the main A30 road from London to the West Country taking a similar path just to the north.
Some ten miles of the Basingstoke Canal meander through Hart, from Greywell in the west to Hawley in the east. After extensive canal restoration, small craft are now a regular sight whilst the towpath provides a popular canal side walk through tranquil scenery.
There are several sites of natural beauty to be seen within Hart. For example there is Yateley Common Country Park nearly 500 acres of heathland noted as Hampshire's largest Common. Attractive Fleet Pond is the largest lake in the county and a popular haunt of wildfowl. The District abounds with interesting fauna and flora and several sites are protected because of their rare plants and wildlife.
Hart has had many associations with royalty through the ages. Canal explorers traveling west from Odiham will pass near the ruins of King John's Castle at North Warnborough, believed to date from the 13th Century. It was from here that King John rode to Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The family of Jane Seymour Henry the Eighth's third wife hailed from Elvetham. Henry IV and Henry Vll were among royal visitors to historic Dogmersfield Park.
Ancient churches and period and half-timbered cottages with mellowed brickwork provide hints of Hart's historical past. More can be discovered by taking a closer look on foot at towns and villages. The hungry and thirsty traveller has not been forgotten as numerous inns and restaurants can be found throughout the District, ranging from the small friendly "local" to the country house hotel.
With its ease of access, rural and historic heritage, enchanting villages and wide open spaces, Hart District is an ideal place to live and to explore at any time of the year.