With the recent pleasant weather, it's no surprise that many are looking forward to enjoying leisurely walks. Right on our doorstep lies a popular trail highly favoured by both hikers and dog walkers alike.

The Meon Valley Trail runs from Wickham to West Meon and follows part of the old West Meon Railway which once ran from Alton to Fareham.

Put forth as a rival to the Great Western Railway's path, the alternative route proposed by the London and South Western Railway gained official sanction in 1897.

Commencing the development in 1898, the project encountered obstacles such as securing water sources and addressing a troublesome tunnel segment to the north of West Meon.

In the late 1890s, tunnel boring technology was not as advanced as it is today and building a long tunnel through difficult ground was a significant engineering feat at the time.

Now the tunnel entrance is blocked and the inside used for storage.

Daily Echo: When West Meon had a train station.When West Meon had a train station. (Image: Echo)

Opened in 1903 to meet the standards of express routes, the newly established line aimed to cater to long-distance travel needs.

However, it primarily served as a local line, traversing rural Hampshire landscapes with sparse populations.

Passenger numbers remained modest, while freight transportation of agricultural products and seasonal "strawberry specials" helped sustain the line's operations.

In the 1950s, a downward trend set in as Sunday services were gradually phased out.

By 1955, passenger operations came to a halt, unable to generate sufficient revenue to remain viable. Despite protests, the line struggled to maintain profitability.

Daily Echo: West Meon Trail - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0West Meon Trail - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (Image: Echo)

Although goods services persisted on a smaller scale for some time, they eventually ceased altogether in 1968.

Today, the trackbed of the Meon Valley Railway has been transformed into the Meon Valley Trail, a popular route for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders. It offers a scenic journey through the Hampshire countryside, a peaceful reminder of a bygone era of railways.