"But in its wild scenery lies its greatest charm...... Nowhere, in extent at least, spread such stretches of heath and moor, golden in the spring with the blaze of furze, and in the autumn purple with heather, and bronzed with the fading fern. Nowhere in England rise such oak-woods, their boughs rimed with the frostwork of lichens, and dark beech-groves with their floor of red brown leaves, on which the branches weave their own warp and woof of light and shade."
John Wise, 1895 - The New Forest. Its History and Its Scenery.
Once, centuries ago, The New Forest was the sole province of Kings, Queens and Nobility, it was the concept of William the Conqueror who created the New Forest in 1079 on the site of a former, very spartan Saxon hunting ground. Today, the forest is the playground of tourists, who come from all over England, Europe and beyond, to explore the wild woodland scenery, where amongst other royal personages, King Henry VIII and his court, enjoyed a good day's sport.
The New Forest lies in a vast area of land and is cornered by the borders of Wiltshire, the shores of the Solent, Southampton and the Avon at Hampshire. Within these boundaries lies a wonderland of sparkling streams and rivers, wooded glades and heaths, ancient villages crammed with picturesque, creeper clad thatched roofed cottages fronted by colourul flower filled gardens. Old churches dominate the landscape, while the shores of the solent are threaded with white sailed yachts and gaily painted fishing craft. In the hinterland beyond the solent broad heaths provide rich grazing lands for the wild and beautiful New Forest ponies who can be seen in almost any clearing between the woodland.
Of the many lovely areas in the forest Eyeworth Pond in the quaint village of Fritham is interesting in that it was created in 1871 to feed the local Gunpowder factory. It is now a glorious Water Lily strewn pond, home to Manderin Ducks who breed in the dense woodland surrounding the waters. In the north-west reaches of the forest the ground is somewhat higher and a little more desolate, it is a wonderful place for bird watching. Mostly, this part of the forest teems with visitors, so a stroll along Ashley Walk is best taken in the solitude of early morning when nothing will detract from the sound of the birds rejoicing in the glory of the sun peering through the sky at daybreak.
Unlike ponies, who enjoy the company of visitors, Fallow deer are shy creatures who like to keep their distance. The keen observor might catch a glipse of these beautiful animals as they wander quietly in search of food. Other than this, the best place to see them is the Deer Sanctuary at Bolderwood, near Lyndhurst. Also, at Lyndhurst is the New Forest Museum which tells the story of the forest and the history of the population who for centuries have lived here earning a living from the land. The museum also documents the wildlife of the forest.
Otters can often be spotted close to the waterways of the forest and just occasionally you will see an owl resting peacefully within the leafy branches of a towering tree. Butterflies buzz around in great abandon, taking sustanance from village vegetable gardens and rare and beautiful plants.
As you would suspect the ancient forest has its share of great historic buildings, one of the most interesting is the handsome Elizabethan manor, Breamore House in the lovely village of Breamore near Fordingbridge. The mansion has been the home of the Hulse family for the past 250 years and shows priceless collections of silver and works of art.
In the picturesque village of Beaulieu you will find the National Motor Museum and Palace House. 13th-century Beaulieu Abbey was built by Cistercian Monks. The estate is open to the public and offers a great deal of pleasure to all the family. Hurst Castle at Milford-on-Sea, was the prison home of Charles Ist. The castle has been a significant fortress since tudor times and is well worth seeing. Interesting and even more ancient is the site of Rockbourne Roman Villa at Fordingbridge. The relics and findings on display give an insight into what life may have been like in a large Roman home.
Other places of interest include Lepe Country Park at Exbury and Lymington Reed Beds, a designated site of special scientific interest. For those whose interest is Wine, visitors are welcome to tour the vineyards at Setley Bridge, Brockenhurst. Furzey Gardens are at Minstead, and if you have not been fortunate enough to spot either an otter or an owl. pay a visit to Ashurst. The wildlife sanctuary here is in a beautiful woodland setting and amongst other species is home to otters and owls.
As a resort, the enchantment of the new forest is endless - for city life there is the lure of historic Southampton, a great port with excellent modern shopping facilities which borders the fringe of the forest. Lymington offers all you could want from a coastal town, it has a good harbour and is a popular venue for sailing and within the forest itself there are opportunities for Pony trekking and Horse riding. It is though the magical walks of the forest that are the most captivating and unforgetable. Walks that take you through woodland flooded by spring water after rain, and past lofty trees casting long shadows in a late afternoon sun. Ancient oaks and beech spread wide their branches forming dappled glades, offering perfect peace except for the sound of a lonely woodpecker who disturbs the golden silence, pecking at a tree. A quick glance beyond the trees reveals a pair of fallow deer, heads high, keen ears aloft listening to the relentless tap tap of the bird. In the clearing beyond, are the famous ponies of the forest who have made this ancient and so special place, their own.
in the county of Hampshire(8.9 miles, 14.3 km, direction S)
in the county of Hampshire(7.0 miles, 11.3 km, direction SE)
This lovely village is set in the lush greenery of the New Forest where a pretty village street leads to the banks of the Beaulieu River at the point at which it opens up as an estuary...
Gloriously set, like a jewel in a crown, between woodland and heathland, is the picturesque place called Brockenhurst...
in the county of Hampshire(8.8 miles, 14.2 km, direction SE)
in the county of Hampshire(5.1 miles, 8.2 km, direction SW)
Fordingbridge is a historic market town in Hampshire..
in the county of Hampshire(8.8 miles, 14.2 km, direction E)
in the county of Hampshire(7.4 miles, 12.0 km, direction S)
A lovely Georgian port town on the Solent and at the edge of The New Forest, Hampshire. Lymington is a popular sailing resort with 3 marinas and was once a busy place for.....
in the county of Hampshire(1.5 miles, 2.4 km, direction NE)
..All towns in Hampshire
Eling Tide Mill is a fascinating tourist attraction. It is a place steeped in history where flour has been milled for over 900.....
This is a spectacular garden hidden in pleasant countryside overlooking the Beaulieu River in the New Forest. The.....
This stunning Grade 1 listed Mansion is situated on the cliffs at Highcliffe, overlooking Christchurch Bay and The Isle of Wight......
The spit of shingle jutting out into the sea just a short distance from Milford-on-Sea was considered by Henry VIII to be the.....
The Moors Valley Country Park covers 750 acres in the valley of the Moors River in Hampshire. In the center of the park is a.....