WELL there's no doubt about it, yesterday was a scorcher.

Unbroken blue sky and stunning sunshine shone down on Basingstoke, with temperatures of 33 degrees felt across the town.

And in the direct sunlight it felt much hotter too.

The good news is that the nice weather is set to continue, and is now officially a heatwave.

This weekend, the forecast says it should be sunny with highs of 33 degrees Celsius on Saturday, and 32 on Sunday.

And the hot weather is expected to continue into next week, remaining in the upper 20s or 30s until Wednesday, albeit with thunderstorms forecast.

So, this weekend is the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy the sunshine, and with councils on the coast and the RNLI warning about overcrowded beaches, what better place to be in than the North Hampshire countryside?

These are seven of our favourite places to go and enjoy the sunshine:

1. Eastrop Park

Nestled in the heart of Basingstoke town centre, when the sun is shining, Eastrop Park is a little slice of paradise.

As well as the picturesque lake, it's the perfect place to walk around, or to take a picnic.

If you work up a sweat, there's a lovely cafe where you can cool down, or if longer walks are your thing, it's easy to access the Basingstoke Common.

But a heads up if you're taking little ones, the paddling pool is still out of action because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, Eastrop Park is actually rated as the number one 'best thing to do' in Basingstoke on Trip Advisor.

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2. Crabtree Plantation

A favourite among dog walkers, the Crabtree Plantation is a perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the sun, or for a nice stroll in the evening.

Originally part of the Hackwood Estate, you can enter the the park through the Bolton Arch, where there is a free car park.

And if you like looking at the wildlife, this might be the location for you - Crabtree is an important site for butterflies due to its south facing position, woodland and grassland habitat.

Plus, the elms are particularly important as a resting and breeding place for the beautiful and rare White Letter Hairstreak.

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3. Down Grange

The home of many of the town's sports teams, Down Grange also boasts plenty of green space - perfect for getting your family together for a kickabout or game of rounders.

It's the perfect place to get out of your home and spend some time in the fresh air, and is walking distance from Brighton Hill, Kempshott, Buckskin and South Ham.

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4. The Vyne

One of the most popular days out in and around Basingstoke, The Vyne in Sherborne St John boasts some spectacular views of the historic house across the lake.

The gardens that surround the Tudor palace have over 400 years of history, and there's even a 1.3 mile circular route that you can trek around, discovering the history of the estate and enjoying the stunning woodlands and wetlands.

The estate was closed during lockdown, and whilst the gardens and cafe have reopened, the house remains shut for now.

And there's also ticketed entry, which means you need to book your 30 minute entry slot the day before you go. If you don't book, you'll be turned away.

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5. Beggarwood Park

Another of the popular parks in Basingstoke, Beggarwood boasts more than just a nice area for a walk or picnic.

The trails span the park and woodland, whilst there's also outdoor exercise equipment if you fancy burning off some energy, as well as a children's play area.

Plus, there's the amphitheatre built into the hillside, and the children's maze.

But if it gets a bit busy there for your liking, you could always cross Winchester Road and head into Old Down.

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6. Wellington Country Park

A little bit further out, Wellington Country Park is located just outside of Riseley.

Boasting a splash zone, mini quad-biking, play areas, a miniature railway and a dinosaur trail, Wellington is a great place to take your kids during the summer holidays.

With most attractions, except the indoor soft play, reopen, it could make the perfect destination during the heatwave.

They are advising people to bring their own hand sanitiser to make things easier, but there is some available there, whilst you'll have to book in advance to get in.

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7. Basingstoke Canal

Last but certainly not least is the beautiful Basingstoke Canal.

The 31-mile manmade waterway was built in 1794 to connect the town to the River Thames and stimulate growth in Hampshire, and runs all the way from Greywell to North Warnborough, Odiham, Church Crookham, Fleet and eventually Byfleet in Surrey.

It's the perfect place for a summer's afternoon stroll, even though the stretch between Greywell and Basingstoke is now lost.

Basingstoke Gazette:

We'd love to see your photos of you and your families enjoying this weekend's weather! Send them in to newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk.