Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, the New Forest is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the south of England, and was once the primary source of timber for Henry VIII’s Royal Navy. Today it is home to famously friendly ponies, walking, exploring and cream teas!
Known as the capital of the New Forest since William the Conquerer established it as a hunting ground in 1079, the town has been no stranger to royalty over the years. Kings and Queens regularly visited Lyndhurst’s manor house throughout the centuries, with the building still in use today as the meeting place of the ancient Verderers’ Court.
As well as its long-stretching and still very evident history which can be discovered in the New Forest Heritage Centre, Lyndhurst boasts a wide range of tearooms, restaurants, art galleries and independent shops. There are many scenic walks and cycle routes to be enjoyed, as well as Bolton's Bench - a popular spot for locals - where you can enjoy an elevated view of the landscape.
Named from the French words meaning ‘beautiful place’, this pretty village is situated on the banks of a meandering river, and is a favourite tourist stop for visitors to the New Forest. Most famously, it is home to the National Motor Museum which offers a spin through motoring history as well as access to the home of the Montagu family, Palace House and its elegant Victorian gardens.
Away from the museum, Beaulieu is also home to New Forest Activities where you can see the sights of Beaulieu in an alternative way – from a kayak or canoe along the river, or even from the high ropes! After all that excitement, Fairweathers Garden Centre will be waiting with a large selection of plants, locally grown fruit and vegetables and delicious home-cooked food.
With its tinkling sailing masts and cobbled streets, Lymington is one of the most charming harbour towns on the south coast. Nestled just where the New Forest meets the Solent, it boasts a picture-perfect Georgian high street offering a variety of attractive shops, independent cafés and popular Saturday charter market.
The marina is the beating heart of the town and brings visitors from far and near. As well as providing a large amount of berthing, the waters of Lymington are home to a much larger vessel, the Wightlink Ferry, which operates hourly crossings between Lymington and Yarmouth, Isle of Wight for both vehicles and foot passengers.
Located in the New Forest National Park, between Lyndhurst and Lymington, Brockenhurst is a village bustling with activity and oozing that rural country charm. Although one of the more highly populated villages, you could easily be fooled into thinking that most of the residents seem to be of the four-legged variety. Ponies, donkeys, and cattle roam freely – occupying not only the village green and surrounding woodland, but also the village centre!
The village boasts many points of historical interest including the oldest and only remaining New Forest church mentioned in the Domesday Book. The infamous New Forest snake catcher, Brusher Mills was laid to rest in the church grounds, and his legacy remains within the village, notably at the Snakecatcher of Brockenhurst public house, which was renamed in his honour after he passed away in 1905.
There’s nothing quite like the dimly lit, cosy corners and the low hum of voices in a traditional country pub, especially in the New Forest. After a long day of exploring – whether that be on foot, bicycle, or horseback – New Forest pubs tend to border popular routes, so you can sit back and relax with a nice meal or guilt-free drink, knowing you earnt it. Muddy boots and mucky paws are usually welcome too!
From traditional Sunday roasts with all the trimmings to woodfired pizza and gourmet burgers, the New Forest has plenty to tantalise all tastes. Home to fantastic local producers including Sway Butchers, Lyburn Farmhouse Cheeses and Setley Ridge Vineyard, locally grown, brewed, reared, or processed produce is proudly labelled with the New Forest Marque logo.