Royal Victoria Country Park is perfect for picnics, dog walks and taking in some of Hampshire’s beautiful coastline.
Here’s your guide to the prettiest 200 acres in Southampton…
📍 Royal Victoria Country Park, Southampton SO31 5GA
Royal Victoria Country Park overlooks the Solent and is the connection between central Southampton, Netley and Hamble.
It’s got lots of open park land which is great for group gatherings, but there’s also some short trails at the back through the woodland and cemetry area.
I’ve been going to this park my entire life and it actually connects into a really long and interesting walk that runs along the coast. It’s a fantastic way to see the area and there’s some lovely places to stop along the way.
In the summer it’s a beautiful place to sit with a book in the sunshine, have a picnic or go for a paddle in the sea. Then, in Winter it becomes a great spot for a brisk walk with plenty of space for you to chuck a ball around for your dog.
Not that long ago the park was actually Royal Victoria Military Hospital. It was the British Army’s first purpose-built hospital which was significant in the World Wars.
In 1958 the hospital closed due to high maintenance costs. If you Google pictures of the military hospital you’ll realise it was huge and apparently it was well known that the building had a lot of structural faults.
After a fire and burst water pipe damage in the sixties, the building had to be demolished as it was unsafe. This only happened around 1979 and Royal Victoria Country Park was developed in 1980 and the park isn’t actually very old.
I think it’s such a shame the original building has not survived as it was so pretty and a real feature of the coastline.
If, like me, you like the spookier side of life, it’s also go a large amount of ghost sightings around the areas of the old hospital.
You can read more about this in my post ‘5 SPOOKY PLACES TO VISIT IN HAMPSHIRE‘.
In its more modern history the park has attracted a street art stencil from well known Hampshire artist Hen Dog. You’ll spot it around the shore near to the War Memorial.
When the hospital was no longer needed it was demolished and turned into the park. The Chapel is the only surviving part which is now open for exhibitions, tours and private events.
It’s worth timing a visit with when it’s open as it’s really very pretty and a nice addition to any day out there. Plus it’s free to go inside – bonus!
Commonwealth War Graves Cemetry
Head to the back and right of the main fields surrounding the chapel for a beautiful dappled walk to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Cemetery.
Once at the cemetery the mostly flat landscape changes to become hilly and some parts of the trails are on wooden boardwalks.
It has the uncanny ability to make you feel really far away from the surrounding urban areas. This is remarkable when you note its proximity to central Southampton and Netley.
While we’re on the subject of Netley, the village and the English Heritage Abbey ruins are within easy walking distance.
It’s also worth noting that there’s a bakery in Netley, on the road into the park. It’s great for picking up a treat before or after your visit.
If you want to read more about Netley Abbey and how to visit, you’ll find my post ‘NETLEY ABBEY IN SOUTHAMPTON‘ helpful.
Family Day Out
Royal Victoria Country Park is really geared up for families to come and enjoy themselves here too. Splash on the shoreline, fly kites in the grounds or enjoy game and picnics when the weather is good.
You’ll want to seek out the miniature railway, play areas and magical wood carved fairy garden. It’s hidden in plain sight central to the grounds behind some trees just before the second car park. Yes, I did walk many kilometres trying to find it!
In addition to the shore line and trails to help your littles ones run off some steam, there’s a convenient cafe for drinks and light snacks. On good days you’ll also find an ice cream van by the chapel.
- Walking Trails
- On site parking
- Fairy Garden
- Play Area
- Dedicated BBQ areas for hire
- Dog Wash Machine – the cutest and coolest thing I’ve seen for dogs ever!
- Toilets – check the opening times before you go, they change seasonally. There is a Changing Places site for those who this would be beneficial for.
The only downside to the beautiful park and woodlands is the parking. Be warned ahead of time, it’s not cheap and it can get crowded so, if you can car share, or get public transport this will help. Visiting off season between October and March is significantly less expensive.
Royal Victoria Country Park
This charming nature spot adjacent to central Southampton is a much needed green space to break up the surrounding residential area.
It’s transformed from its World War history with medical importance into a beautiful outside area for people to enjoy. Recently it’s started to host events too, including an annual pumpkin festival and a popular summer street food festival.
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