The New Forest, once a Royal playground reserved only for the privileged few, is England’s smallest National Park. It’s 220 square miles, first discovered by William the Conqueror over 900 years ago, has changed little over time. It’s ancient landscape of woodland, heathlands and wildlife still works well today thanks to the unique traditions and uses still employed today. Offering residents and visitors alike the opportunity to relax, play and experience this area of outstanding beauty.
Towns and Villages:
The New Forest has an array of historic towns and beautiful villages for you to explore all with their own history and character. Ranging from Fordingbridge in the north down to Barton on Sea on the coast. Below is a brief introduction to some of the them all within a radius of under 10 miles from the holiday cottage rental.
- Is the nearest village just 2 miles away with it’s Tower also known as Peterson’s Folly built in the 17th Century. This can be seen for miles around above the tree tops. Today it is a listed building and the tallest non-reinforced concrete structure.
- There is a railway station and a variety of shops in the village with, in our opinion, the best butchers around.
- Just outside the National Park located on the Solent, it is the closest town. Lymington is an historic market town which still has it's Market in the high Street each Saturday.
- It’s history of smuggling, salt making and ship building can be discovered at the St Barbe Museum.
- Lymington has a large yatching and sailing influence with it’s number of Marinas.
- There is a wide range of shops, including the nearest supermarket, fine dining establishments and many places to enjoy morning coffee or afternoon tea.
- A wander down to the cobbled streets and by the Quay where you can take a river cruise on Puffin Cruises.
- Why not try a walk along a section of the Solent Way, from Lymington to Keyhaven Nature reserve, an area of international importance for the large numbers of breeding, feeding and roosting birds, taking in views over the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
- This village has retained many of it’s old world features which give it it’s charm.
- Ponies and Donkeys still wander around the village and can be seen drinking at the famous Watersplash at the end of the High Street.
- Just outside Brockenhurst is Whitefield Moor with a large car park, from here you can walk the Ober Water Trails
- The railway station at Brockenhurst has more frequent trains than Sway and a taxi rank.
- Set at the head of the Beaulieu river, Beaulieu dates back to the 13th Century, when Cistercian monks founded the abbey. This passed to the Montagu family in the 1530’s and has remained with the family since.
- Experience a great day out to the National Motor Museum Palace House.
- Beaulieu village centre has a variety of interesting shops including a chocolate shop.
- Walk from the village centre along the river to Bucklers Hard, a shipbuilding village where the ships for Nelson's navy were built, now there is a maritime museum that tells the history of this village.
- Is centrally located and known as the capital of the New Forest.
- The New Forest Centre, allows you to discover the forest’s unique history and heritage.
- Lyndhurst offers a wide selection of shops and tea rooms.
- The grave of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland can be found in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels.
- Remains a very quaint village, untouched by time it has the Coven of Witches along with the ponies and donkeys wandering around the village.
- Just outside the village is the New Forest Cider farm.
- In the summer months you can enjoy a New Forest Deer Safari.
Exbury and Lepe:
- Here you can visit Lepe Country Park, with it's historic D-Day remains, views over the Solent and over a mile of beach.
- A lovely place to walk in the flower meadows.
Milford on Sea:
- A beautiful village with a good variety of restaurants and pubs and shops selling local arts and crafts.
- Wander from here along the amazing cliff top walks to Hordle Cliffs.
- Walk out along Hurst Spit to Hurst Castle, dating back to Tudor times, it has a long military history. If you are exhausted after this take the ferry back.
- Neighbouring Keyhaven, offers you the opportunity to walk to Lymington along the Salt Marshes and mud flats that are of international importance for the large numbers of breeding, feeding and roosting birds that it supports.
- The gravel path along the sea wall allows visitors to enjoy the stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
The beaches of Milford on Sea, Barton on Sea and Calshott have the Solent Water Quality Award and feature in the Good Beach Guide .
A little further afield you will find the beaches of Avon beach,Bournemouth, Sandbanks and Studland.
Places to Eat and Drink
One of the wonderful attributes of the New Forest is it’s wide and varied selection of restaurants and pubs offering a warm welcome and amazing cuisine to suit all tastes and requirements. It is not possible to list all of them so below is a small selection.
Within walking distance of the holiday cottage:
- Passford House Hotel, This is a short walk from the property, with beautiful gardens. We have not eaten here yet but the menu looks good and not over priced. You can also use the swimming pool, sauna and gym for a reasonable daily fee. They welcome local people as well as their guests. 01590 682398
- The Monkey House, A fun pub with good food a 20 minute walk away. 01590 676754
- The Filly Inn, offering a wide selection of food. We will often walk here as it is far enough to justify a stop but close enough that the walk back is not too arduous. 01590 623449
- Hare and Hounds, Sway is a local pub with reasonable food and friendly staff. 01590 682404
- The Fleur de Lys, Pilley. This is our favourite both for the atmosphere and the amazing food. Great to go for just a drink and there's always a local to chat with or enjoy the wonderful menu from an outstanding chef. Booking is essential. 01590 672158.
- The Shipyard, Lymington. They try to use local produce when available and if you like seafood this is a great restaurant to visit. They have some restrictions on opening hours so check if you want to visit of an evening. Also open for breakfast and lunch. . 01590 677705
- The East End Arms, East End. Owned by the bass player from Dire Straits, offers good locally sourced food and great beer. . 01590 626223
- The Ferryman, is the sister pub to the Kings Head. Recently refurbished it offers good food and a friendly service. We have recently eaten here a couple of times and really enjoyed their fish dishes. 01590 672517
- Kings Head, Lymington. Down towards the quay in Lymington is a favourite with the sailing fraternity and locals offering good food. 01590 672709
- The Chequers, A great pub to stop at if you do the Keyhaven to Lymington walk. It has great outside space. The food is good and very appreciated after a long walk. 01590673415
- The Oak Inn, Bank. This has come highly recommended for food and the ponies who like to stand in the porch. 02380 282350
- The Jetty, Mudeford. This restaurant is managed by Alex Aitkens with views over Mudeford Quay. 01202 400950
- La Perle, Milford on Sea, believe this has recently changed hands and Sam and his team do a wonderful job. Recently took our daughter here and loved all of it. 01590 643557
- Rick Stein, Sandbanks, We ate here recently and everything was great, they even have a dedicated gluten free menu with fish and chips. It was also reasonable priced and the quality was great. If you book a table I would ask to be seated in the main restaurant.