The ancient New Forest is England’s newest National Park and is around 30 minutes’ drive from Bournemouth. There are plenty of pretty towns and villages to discover and the beautiful open spaces, forest glades and tranquil walks remain largely unchanged from the days when William the Conqueror used it as his Royal Playground from 1079. Kings, queens and their courts came regularly to stay on the royal manor at Lyndhurst and it soon became the ‘capital’ of the New Forest.
The picturesque and historic village of Beaulieu nestling on the bank of the Beaulieu River has delighted visitors through the centuries. It was here in 1204 that King John gave the area, known as Bellus Locus (Beautiful Place), to the Cistercian monks and it is now believed that a little way up the river, in 1100, King Rufus was killed with an arrow.
Brockenhurst and Burley
In Brockenhurst or Burley you will soon see ponies and cattle grazing freely and further exploration will reveal deer roaming through the mighty oaks and heathland. Brockenhurst is well-known for its diversity of shops, tea houses, pubs and high-quality restaurants. Burley depicts everything you would expect from a traditional old New Forest village. It is in a lee of a hill and surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Lymington is lovely Georgian market town with cobbled streets and Quay. Along the nearby tidal salt marshes there is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and ten miles of nature reserves.
Fordingbridge and Bickton
Fordingbridge, on the edge of the New Forest is a traditional riverside town and an ideal picnic location is Riverside Park. Explore the tiny hamlet of Bickton – a great spot for fishing and home to an 18th century mill.
The New Forest is a cyclist’s dream, with dedicated cycle-paths of various levels for all ages and abilities.
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience New Forest produce all grown, reared, brewed, and caught in the area; easily identified by looking out for the New Forest Marque.