Responsible tourism: Hawkley self-catering barn, South Downs, England
The conversion project was supported by the Rural Development Program for England, partly funded by Defra and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. From conception through to completion the project was made as sustainable as possible. The barn has been awarded Gold in the Green Tourism Business Scheme. A solar heating system provides hot water and a wood burning stove provides warmth, with logs supplied from the woodland.
The farm is part of the Entry Level Stewardship scheme to enhance and conserve wildlife. Thriving species include; bats, barn owls, sparrow hawks, badgers, foxes, deer, rabbits, plus many species of birds and insects. The 10 hectares of farm comprises of pasture and woodland. The pasture is either cut for haylage or grazed by conservation animals from a local farmer. The wood covers nearly 5 hectares and is a mix of ancient semi-natural woodland, semi-mature planted trees and new oak. In 1995 an ongoing management scheme was implemented with the Forestry Authority. Regular maintenance work includes the protection of young trees, clearing fallen trees, protecting coppiced hazel and some high pruning. The barn has resources to help you learn more about the trees and their uses during your stay.
When the barn conversion project was undertaken, Lou and Richard had a strong vision to source and use all things local. Although not always possible, the vast majority of the materials and finishing touches in the barn are from the Hampshire area and wider regions of the UK. Lou provides plenty of information on the local area within the barn, with leaflets about walks, cycling routes, the best places to eat and the hidden gems of Hampshire!
The Hawkley Inn will be your local; just 20 minutes walk from the farm and offers a warm welcome with real ale and country pub food. For all your other foodie needs, Lou recommends Selbourne Stores, The Queen’s Deli and Bowtells Farm Shop, all within 3 miles of the farm. There is also a local farmers market every 1st Sunday of the month in Petersfield. Petersfield is well known for its huge variety of book shops and Liss has a specialist wool shop. Lou and Richard also support local artist Tricia Porter, whose tree photographs are available to buy at the barn.
The barn is situated in Hawkley with absolutely stunning views of East Hampshire’s wooded hills, also known as the Hangers. Close to the main farm house is Richard’s workshop, to the south is the garden which includes two old cob nut orchards. Beyond is a tractor shed and then the converted barn, facing south over the high field.
A rich landscape of sunken lanes, wooded hills, chalk downs and heath can all be explored direct from the farm. The Hangers Way footpath runs through Hawkley, right past The Hawkley Inn pub. Noar Hill rises to the north of the farm and is known for its grassland wild flowers and rare butterflies. The South Downs Way is just 7 miles to the south. The surrounding East Hampshire countryside offers miles of quiet country lanes for cycling. Alternatively The Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield and MOD land at Longmoor Ranges offer fantastic biking terrain. You can even hire bicycles with electric power assistance from The Electric Bike Network.
Hampshire has many literary connections including Gilbert White’s House in Selbourne, home to the famous 18th Century naturalist. Jane Austen’s house resides in Chawton, where she wrote some of her best known works. High above Steep is a memorial stone for the WW1 poet Edward Thomas, who lived there.