The New Forest, Hampshire

Jump in the car, head down towards Hampshire and in a couple of hours you could be in what seems like a whole new country.  Horses roam freely, the pace of life slows to the point where most Londoner’s would require CPR and the food is great.  A visit to The New Forest during one of our recent heat-waves showcased this beautiful part of England in all its glory. 

 

Our first destination was The Nurses Cottage (click to read full review), a great value little guesthouse in the sleepy village of Sway which would put many higher priced hotels to shame.  A walk and a few drinks at nearby pubs, dinner at the guesthouse and an early night was the ideal way to prepare for the  energetic following day.

 

Hearty breakfast consumed, we headed up to Brockenhurst to hire a couple of bikes and explore The Forest.  Bike hire is around £15/person and I would strongly recommend booking at least a day in advance to ensure that you aren’t left disappointed, especially during the busy summer months.  Check out www.countrylanes.co.uk for details and booking.  An absolute must is lunch at The Oak Inn, a great pub buried deep in the forest in Lyndhurst.  It’s a leisurely two hour bike ride away but the food is well worth it; think fresh crabs, delicious burgers, plenty of other local seafood dishes and a solid beer and wine list. 

 

We made it back to base at around 4pm and made the short trip to Beaulieu, where we were staying at the magnificent Montagu Arms (click to read full review).  This quintessentially English hotel has everything you need for a lazy weekend getaway – stunning gardens, great food and an idyllic location. 

 

Checkout the next morning was followed by a relaxing walk in the High Street.  There are loads of cool little shops here, including a sweet shop selling almost every kind of sweet I’ve ever come across and the fantastic Beaulieu Chocolates Studio where you can see the chocolate being freshly made.  There is also always a food market of some sort going on most weekends so it’s best to ask the hotel where and when the next one is.  Petrolheads will also appreciate the National Motor Museum  where they have everything from a Top Gear Exhibition to famous TV cars like Del Boy’s Reliant and famous racing cars.