It may have been the wettest of of new year starts with mud and puddles both left and right on our sodden under foot walk around our hotel at Beaulieu Road. However the New Forest still had an amazing beauty to enjoy in the quiet of an early spring break in one of Britain’s newest National Parks.
Once the hunting preserve of William The Conqueror the New Forest its now a popular hunting area for tourists. With the park offering so many options to enjoy the great outdoors of Southern England. Granted national park status in 2005 its popularity has grown significantly with its new tag line Go New Forest.
Walking, cycling, horse and pony riding, bird watching, kayaking, archery and golf just a few things to do in the vast expanse of this park, which runs from almost the edge of Southampton in the east to the edge of Bournemouth on the west.
From dense ancient forested woodland to wide open heath, scrubland and marsh the New Forest is a mix of great scenery.
Around the forest you can visit places like Palace House Beaulieu and its National Motor Museum. Buckler’s Hard also part of the large estate is nearby and where some of the ships of Lord Nelson’s fleet were built on the side of the river.
The principle village of Lyndhurst is where the ancient Verderers Court are based. This historical administration court style body is responsible for looking after the interests of its many commoners, who have special rights granted through property ownership within the park.
Plus the court through its Agisters, are responsible for the welfare of the ponies, pigs, cows, sheep and donkeys that are allowed to graze there by right. All animals are owned by commoners and they pay to for the privilege of letting their stock roam in the forest.
Throughout the park you will find an excellent collection of places to stay many top class hotels and numerous small but very smart bed and breakfast style accommodation. Self-catering caravan and lodge style breaks are possible with Shorefield Company offering several sites around the forest.
The five star Chewton Glen is one of the best known hotels other excellent places to stay like the Balmer Lawn, Rhinefield House, The Bell Inn, Beaulieu Hotel all offer modern stylish stays along with amazing tasty food much of which comes from producers in and around the park.
Fine meats and cheeses lead the way with excellent and ‘stiff fresh’ seafood coming from the English Channel and landed in the park ports. There are producers of biscuits, preserves and drinks all there to tempt the tourist!
On a history trail around the forest then you could see where the Secret Service or SOE once trained their agents for World War II at Beaulieu or visit some of the ten former wartime airfield sites that were scattered around the forest in the 1940’s.
Although the summer is the busiest period for New Forest breaks or holidays spring and autumn are times when the park can be enjoyed in a different way. In spring with the forest coming to life the trees and plants bursting into fresh green growth or in autumn with the red and yellow riot of autumn foliage dressing the trees just before the winter sets in.
And even then in winter, clear frosty days with blue skies around the forest leave you with lovely memories seeing white frost-laden plants or frozen ponds also have their beauty too in this magical place.
No matter the season you have a reason!