The New Forest
As part of our Summer Road trip, my family and I made a return visit to one of our most favourite places in the world, the New Forest. Having family who live in this region, I spent many a happy childhood summer playing in these magical woodlands.
The New Forest was once the private hunting grounds of kings, established by William the Conqueror. William’s son and his heir to the crown of England, William Rufus was killed in a hunting accident in the forest in 1100. The forest, a massive 219 sq miles, covers Southwest Hampshire and stretches into Southeast Wiltshire and towards Dorset. The New Forest consists of seemingly endless unspoilt woodlands and heath lands. Its tranquillity and picturesque setting has made it a popular holiday destination and tourist attraction for hundreds of years.
Animals of the Forest
The most distinctive feature of this unique place is undoubtedly the free roaming of horses, ponies and cows throughout the towns and forests.
Whilst driving through this other-worldly place, these animals quite often stop traffic wondering across the roads.
Posters throughout the area advise against petting these wild animals, yet these creatures seem undaunted by human presence. It is truly a remarkable sight to see such beautiful animals confidently roaming free throughout the landscape and offer a rare opportunity to get close to them in their natural and uncaged habitat.
A Day in the New Forest
As we drove through the New Forest we stopped off for a picnic in one of the many small car parks. Finding a lovely quiet spot, we were soon surrounded by horses and cows who were attracted by the food. Although we had a few curious visitors, most of them did however keep their distance (much to the disappointment of my children).
We then embarked on a small adventure through the woods – something I can remember doing frequently as a child.
Within and around the New Forest, numerous villages and towns have sprung, each of these offers something different to visitors. My favourite amongst these are Beulieu and Burley. Beulieu is a quaint medieval village, much different and slower in pace than the much busier Lyndhurst and Lymington. This is a smaller village with only a few tourist attractions – the Cistercian abbey and the famous National Motor Museum. Both of these places are worth a visit. There are many beautiful walks around the village and it houses some unique little shops.
My all-time favourite village has to be Burley. My family affectionately refer to it as the ‘Witch Village’. Numerous ‘witch shops’ and witch related merchandise can be purchased throughout this small village.
The village obtained this trademark association from one of its residence from the 1950’s who was a self-proclaimed witch; she would walk through the streets with a jackdaw perched upon her shoulder. We can never leave Burley without making a few essential purchases, most often unique pieces of jewellery or some other exceptional souvenir. Pictured below are my recent Burley buys.
Lying just outside of the New Forest is Christchurch. This town has become a popular holiday destination and is much more busier than many of the villages directly within the New Forest. Christchurch has a stunning little harbour.
The beautiful priory (the longest priory in the UK) is extremely charming. Christchurch is a wonderful way to end a day exploring the New Forest as it houses an abundance of restaurants.
The New Forest is truly a sight to behold. I created many memories here as a child and I fully intend in creating many more with my own children. It is a magical place, nothing is quite like it in the world. Unfortunately, we could only spend a single day here, however one could spend weeks here exploring the many and varied towns and villages as well as the exciting tourist attractions.