Being from Cornwall, we are pretty spoiled with countryside and nature, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful the New Forest would be!
This was my first time visiting and we had the best time, so I thought I’d share some tips on what to do if you’re heading there for a 2 or 3 day weekend (depending on how much you like to fit in to your daily schedule!).
Where to stay in the New Forest
We visited with Alex’s family who booked a beautiful (dog friendly) cottage for us all in the middle of the forest, which was incredible!
It was called ‘The Foresters Lodge’, in Bramshaw, and used to be a part of the Bramble Hill hotel, but is now its own private cottage, sleeping up to 8 guests with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and kitchen, dining and living areas. One of the best parts was also its dedicated games room – an outdoor unit with pool table, table tennis, darts and table football, and even its own mini fridge and kitchenette. We had plenty of fun having tournaments in there.
There was also a lovely garden and outdoor seating, plenty of parking, and completely surrounded by forest! Each day we would look out of the window and see wild deer walking around outside, or wild ponies strolling past. It was so relaxing to see.
I’m not sure which website Alex’s family booked this on, but you can find more details on this Hampshire Hotels site.
There are lots of high end cottages / self-catered properties similar to this dotted all around the New Forest, and the incredible location definitely made the experience very special. But there’s plenty of options at lots of different price ranges too – below are some examples:
- Glamping in the New Forest
- Bed & Breakfasts in the New Forest
- Camping & Caravan sites in the New Forest
Visit Rhinefield Ornamental Drive & Blackwater Arboretum
If you’re staying in a town or somewhere just on the edges of the national park (and not directly within the forest itself), this is a great place to park up and lose yourself amongst the trees. There are loads of places to park along this tree-lined road, and nothing but sprawling woodland in every direction, that’s at your disposal for hiking and picnicking!
The Blackwater Arboretum is a very beautiful little walk with all sorts of different trees too look at as you walk through.
Spot Wild Deer at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
Because where we were staying was right in the forest, with wild deer walking past our windows each morning, we didn’t feel we needed to visit this hotspot, BUT I’ve heard it’s a great place to spot some wild deer from the viewing platforms looking out across peaceful meadows.
Explore the pretty town of Beaulieu
I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful the town/village of Beaulieu is! We sadly didn’t get to spend very long here as we walked there from a car park a couple of miles out and ended up getting very badly lost on the way there and back… but walking through it was dreamy.
Some might know it for being the home of the National Motor Museum, but more than that this village is a must for an afternoon stroll and some shopping. There’s also Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House, and lots of gardens/grounds to explore around the winding river that passes through, with wild donkeys stopping for a snooze occasionally too!
PS. It’s pronounced ‘byoo-lee’ apparently! Thank goodness we had Alex’s sister with us who had been before and knew how to say it or else I would have butchered it…
Try a circular walk around Janesmoor Pond
One of the most fun activities we did during our trip was set a walking challenge, and whoever got to the pub first from our cottage would win (we had to decide our own hiking routes and only use compasses), BUT the catch was that you had to first go to Janesmoor Pond and take a photo by the pond to prove you’d been there first. It was great fun and we won!
It’s a pretty little stop, but also has lots of parking so it’s a good place to kick off any walks you’re planning to do, with a couple of pubs that we tried within a couple of miles distance for your refreshment stop. I had the best chicken burger at The Lamb Inn in Nomansland, and we also had a nice lunch under an outdoor canopy at Green Dragon in Brook too.
Of course there are plenty of pubs and amazing walks to choose from in the New Forest – it just happened that these places were nearby to where we were staying. I’d definitely encourage you to head out on an adventure with a compass en route to a pub while you’re there!
Have you ever been to the New Forest before? What are your recommendations? Leave a comment below!