Recreation & explortation
Anstey Park offers 32 acres of parkland and leisure activities providing visitors with a wealth of sports including cricket, football, rugby, tennis, netball and skateboarding. It’s very much a community park and often hosts events such as fun runs and fireworks displays.
The town’s history can be explored on a number of circular walks. The Holybourne walk takes you past some ancient buildings, with glimpses of the River Wey as you go.
On the Flood Meadows walk you’ll be able to see the historic watercress beds and enjoy splendid views of the open countryside. Lavender fields are another beautiful feature of Alton; Hartley Park Farm grows four varieties and sells a range of lavender products.
If golf is your chosen pastime, you can head for Worldham Golf Club, just outside Alton. It has a beautiful 18-hole parkland course on the edge of the South Downs National Park, a reminder that in Alton, open countryside is never very far away.
Shopping around the area
There’s more to discover on the shopping front in the towns close to Alton.
Shopping in Alton’s town centre is a pleasure, thanks to its handsome historic buildings and well-kept streets, some of which are traffic-free. You’ll find everything for everyday needs; with Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and the Co Op representing the major supermarkets. Other outlets include a Post Office, hairdressers, banks, and Marks & Spencer Simply Food.
Farnham, 12 miles away, has a great selection of independent and rather exclusive shops, especially in the atmospherically cobbled Lion and Lamb Shopping Centre. Here you can browse in Laura Ashley, Whistles, India Jane, Joules, Waterstone’s and Neal’s Yard Remedies, amongst others.
Anyone who has a taste for locally produced, top quality produce and gourmet specialities will make a point of going to Farnham farmers’ market, held every fourth Sunday of the month.
Guildford, 20 miles from Alton, is popular with shoppers for its diverse mix of retailers. They include department stores Debenhams and House of Fraser; the multiples clustered in shopping centres such as The Friary; as well as countless independent boutiques, shops and high-end brands such as Anthropologie, Hobbs, Jo Malone and Whistles along the cobbled High Street, Chapel Street and The Lanes. Then there’s Tunsgate Quarter, a newcomer to Guildford’s shopping scene. Here, the focus is on high end fashion, plus cafés, bars and restaurants, bringing a touch of the West End to the city centre. The respected Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is another very good reason to spend time in Guildford.
Basingstoke, 11 miles from Alton, is another good alternative for the serious shopper. Festival Place Shopping Centre has an excellent range of leading labels of the calibre of Ralph Lauren, Swarovski, Benefit, Vans, Superdry, Zara, Warehouse and French Connection, complemented by large branches of Debenhams and Marks & Spencer.
Winchester has an impressive historic centre that’s also a delight for the shopper. Indoor shopping in The Constabulary, Parchment Street and Jewry Street is complemented by a wide range of markets, variously specialising in art and design, farmers’ produce, antiques and collectables.
Portsmouth is a little further away but well worth the journey for Gunwharf Quays, the phenomenally successful outlet centre on the harbourside. Here, you can spend - and more importantly, save - on 90 upmarket brands such as L’Occitane, The White Company, Gant, Fossil, Timberland, Le Creuset, Jaeger, Jack Wills and Boss.
A matter of taste
Eating out is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a major part of contemporary lifestyles. With a wealth of choices, Alton has something to entice every palate.
Alton has a number of family-friendly restaurants and some more sophisticated ones, ranging from Pizza Express and O’Connor’s Secret Garden Bistro to Monty’s Bistro. Alton is also very well supplied with pubs, many of which serve good food, of either the traditional or the gastro pub kind.
Farnham isn’t too far to go when you feel like dining out. Its restaurant choices include Bill’s, Brasserie Blanc, Côte, Café Piccolo, Borelli’s Wine Bar and Grill.
The Lion and Lamb Café and Restaurant specialises in seasonal English food, The Darjeeling is a smart Indian restaurant, while the Queens Head offers a menu of upmarket pub food.
Guildford also offers an excellent choice of restaurants, casual dining and pubs, between them covering all the popular cuisines. They encompass favourites like Prezzo and Côte, as well as independents such as Positano, Meat The Greek and The Jetty.
Winchester, as befits any affluent and vibrant city, also has an eclectic range of places to eat and drink. A small sample, demonstrating the choices available, might include independent restaurants Forte Kitchen or Chesil Rectory; The Green Man, a smart pub which specialises in food made from artisan produce; and sushi and sashimi at Kyoto Kitchen. Celebrity chef Rick Stein has an eponymous restaurant in the High Street, where, as you would expect, fish and seafood lead the menu choices.
If you’re visiting Portsmouth, it’s worth remembering that Gunwharf Quays has thirty different places to eat as well as outlet shopping. Here, you can gaze out over the busy harbour and naval base while you eat, watching the ferries and cruise ships ply the waters.
A town for learning
One excellent reason for choosing Maple Fields for a family home is that there are so many ‘good’ rated schools, for all ages, in the vicinity.
At primary level, Wootey Junior School, Anstey Junior School and The Butts Primary School are all deemed by Ofsted to be ‘Good’. Alton Infants’ School is ‘Good with Outstanding Features’.
For older children, options include Alton College and Eggars School, both ‘Outstanding’, and Amery Hill School, ‘Good with Outstanding Features’.
Well regarded independent schools in the Alton area include Alton Convent School, for all ages, and Andrews’ Endowed Church of England Primary School.
With Alton station only 5 minutes by car, or 19 minutes on foot, Maple Fields is ideally placed for commuters.
With services to London Waterloo taking as little as 1 hour and 7 minutes, it’s perfectly feasible to live here and work in the capital. Other major centres even more easily accessible by rail are Woking (36 minutes), and Guildford (40 minutes).
If you’re driving, the A31 is 1.3 miles away, your starting point for Winchester, Farnham, Guildford and the A3. Alternatively, the A339 is the route to the M3 junction 6, 11.4 miles away.