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Visit...The New Forest

nf.jpgPicture postcard pretty, the New Forest is just perfect in springtime. Think of sun-dappled forest paths, natural wild pastureland and grassy village greens. The New Forest is now a national park but dates back to William the Conqueror who created it so he had somewhere to go hunting.

In the densely populated south of England, it remains largely unspoilt with ponies & cattle grazing freely. At just under three hours it’s also a comfortable drive from Glenfield.

On the Hoof

The famous New Forest ponies are not wild although they roam free. You see them everywhere and in the houses and villages where they tend to gather all the houses wisely have cattle-grids and gates to save gardens being chewed up. Spring is the best time to see foals, lots of them and all so cute!

Towns, Villages and Places to Stay

The area is sprinkled with picturesque villages and traditional pubs so there are plenty of places to stay or eat as well as the many visitor attractions nearby. Lyndhurst is a quaint but bustling town where you can set up your break at the New Forest Visitor Centre before grabbing a meal at one of the pubs. There is also a Ferrari and Bugatti dealership where we spent an excited half an hour with noses pressed against the glass looking at the cars! The traffic does create blockages at peak times, but no worse than other places. You can also pop into the Polo Club and watch a game (free) if you fancy. We stayed at the Forest Park Hotel in nearby Brockenhurst, which serves a brilliant full English breakfast. The patio doors to our room opened onto the garden complete with sweeping lawn, tennis court and a heated outdoor pool. A few minutes’ walk takes you into the village. Best of all for us, there are riding stables right next door which cater for riders of all abilities. The hotel looks out onto the forest and heathland so we had some really enjoyable hacks out. If you prefer to stay under canvas, there are some lovely campsites but be sure to book ahead especially at busy times.

Heaps of attractions

Having a car-mad son, Beaulieu National Motor Museum was high on our list of places to visit. It didn’t disappoint, even if you’re not a car fanatic. We visited the Top Gear display with some of their recent contraptions and explored the cars in the main museum which includes Formula 1 vehicles, beautiful classic Rolls Royces and Bluebird, to name a few.

Staying with the motor theme, Sammy Miller’s Motorcycle Museum, has over 300 motorcyles and a courtyard with small shops and café to keep you occupied. Also on the Beaulieu estate, Bucklers Hard, the quaint & untouched village where Nelson’s ships were built, was a nice discovery for us. Paultons Park is a super family theme park with over 60 rides & attractions included in the admission fee. We got soaked on the log flume & blow-dried in what looked like a giant hair-dryer, flung around on the Cobra rollercoaster,
bounced around on the Jumping Bean and then we raced around the track driving go-karts. All great fun.
For something a little different, Eling Tide Mill is worth a visit. You can look around the workings of the mill, chat to the miller and watch the wheel turn when the tide is right.

Further Afield

We had a day in Southampton and visited a Titanic exhibition where the warden told us some fascinating stories from his great-grandfather who was put in charge of one of the lifeboats but there are many other nature parks, historic houses and other attractions nearby.

Planning a Break

There is much to discover in the New Forest, whether by car or bicycle or on foot or horseback! The official visitor site is a good place to start if you want to get a flavour of what’s there and plan the break http://www.thenewforest.co.uk/.

Nichola Pell

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