Why I Love.....Spending time in the New Forest.

WHY I LOVE….

… spending time in the New Forest, 145 square miles of ancient heath and woodland, where ponies, donkeys, pigs, cattle and deer still freely roam.

Spring brings the foals; summer the purple heather; mushrooms abound in autumn and at dusk in winter low mists swirl mysteriously above the heath. Protected as a National Park, entered via cattle grids, the New Forest is a world apart, but one where these days the luxuries of life go hand in hand with endless opportunities to stretch ones legs and explore. The Forest may have become a gastronomic hotspot (Chewton Glen, Lime Wood, The Montagu Arms, The Pig, Terravina), but it has remained essentially unchanged for 900 years.

A visit to the bustling Saturday market in Lymington’s Georgian High Street is always absorbing, and from there it’s a short drive across the heath to Beaulieu. Here the attractions of land and water are perfectly combined, with the Cistercian abbey and Lord Montagu’s Palace House and Motor Museum set picturesquely beside the Beaulieu River, and the open Forest all around.

This is prime cycling country. Bikes can be hired in Beaulieu, from where a network of waymarked tracks spread out to Brockenhurst, where lunch in The Pig’s charming conservatory is a treat and the giant redwoods along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive shoot skywards; to Lyndhurst and its Verderers’ Court, which has run the New Forest since the 14th century; to Fritham, whose diminutive Royal Oak is the Forest’s oldest and most atmospheric pub; and to the Rufus Stone, which marks the spot where King William II was felled by an arrow in 1100 during a hunting expedition.

Two miles along the Beaulieu River, is Buckler’s Hard with its Maritime Museum and shipwrights’ cottages where, amongst many warships, Nelson’s favourite, Agamemnon, was built. Or take the gentle riverside walk, then perhaps a pub lunch at the Master Builder’s. To see the Beaulieu River at close quarters, take a pleasure boat trip from Buckler’s Hard; or if you, like us, are in the mood for mild adventure, hire a canoe or a kayak.

  • Chewton Glen New Milton, Hampshire 72 rooms from £325

    Exclusive offer  -  Spring offer until 20th March 2020
    Country Escape  -  A gorgeous country house spa, set in 130 acres of parkland at the edge of the magical New Forest.
    Great walks  -  Plenty of walking across the 130 acres of parkland, or head into the New Forest.
    Fishing  -  There is fishing available nearby, ask at the hotel for details.
    Kids Club  -  All new The Beehive, available every weekend and school holidays
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, Frommers, Good Hotel Guide, Kiwi Collection, Relais & Chateaux, Michelin Travel

    NB Temporarily Closed. Classic and superbly run country house hotel with great attention to detail and a wonderful spa close to the New Forest. Newly built, luxury tree-house bedrooms set high in a scenic valley with panoramic views. Imitable service, gourmet dining and The Beehive, kids club. See More

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  • Lime Wood Lyndhurst, Hampshire 32 rooms from £395

    Exclusive offer  -  Complimentary upgrade
    Foodies  -  A super chic restaurant, serving Anglo-Italian fare. A product of Lime Wood’s Luke Holder and high-profile chef Angela Hartnett.
    Families  -  Extra beds allowed in rooms, kids activities on site and baby sitting facilities makes this an obvious choice for parents.
    Country Escape  -  A beautifully renovated country house situated in the heart of one of the UKs finest National Parks.
    Cooking classes  -  The excellent Hartnett Holder & Co Backstage cookery school has a wide variety of hands on courses.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Good Hotel Guide, Kiwi Collection, Relais & Chateaux, Sawdays

    Scintillating luxury hotel in a superbly redesigned Georgian house in the heart of the New Forest. Wonderfully comfortable beds in large rooms all with unique features including free standing baths, fireplaces or four posters. A sublime restaurant curated by a celebrity chef. Countryside perfection. See More

    Hotel Website
  • The Montagu Arms Beaulieu 22 rooms from £228

    Spa  -  Access to Spa at sister hotel Careys Manor.
    Four poster beds  -  For romantics.
    Traditional
    Recommended by  -  Frommers, Good Hotel Guide, Michelin Travel

    17th century country house hotel in the heart of the New Forest National Park. Michelin-starred restaurant, library bar, terrace, sumptuous rooms. See More

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  • The Pig Brockenhurst 31 rooms from £185

    Spa  -  Potting Shed treatment rooms with one of the hotel's personal therapists
    Great walks  -  Borrow a pair of Hunter wellies and set out in to the New Forest.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Beaulieu Abbey, Hurst Castle or Buckler's Hard.
    Traditional
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith

    A country escape a step above the rest. Traditional meets modern world comforts in rooms with oh-so comfy beds and huge rain showers. The restaurant is worthy of a visit alone with produce being very locally sourced (often from the garden). Treatment rooms on offer for some pampering. Glorious. See More

    Hotel Website
  • TerraVina Netley Marsh, NOT TO SHOW 11 rooms from £165

    Exclusive offer  -  Late Availability
    Country Escape  -  A boutique property set within the New Forest with wild ponies wandering past and acres of countryside waiting to be explored.
    Foodies  -  Superb modern-British cuisine, expertly matched with wines from the extensive cellar and served in a warm environment.
    Great walks  -  Walks through the New Forest start straight from the door - the hotel will point you in the right direction.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Beaulieu with its National Motor Museum, Beaulieu Estate and Abbey.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Fodors, Good Hotel Guide

    A wonderful country hideaway run by expert hoteliers. Stylish rooms feature oh-so comfy beds, mellow hues and contemporary artwork. There's also a heated outdoor pool but this hotel is all about the restaurant. Stunning gourmet cuisine matched with wines by award winning master sommelier. Masterful. See More

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Written by Fiona Duncan

posted Wednesday, 23rd January 2019