Ancient woodland, charming villages and bluebell trails
Perched on the south coast of England, the New Forest National Park is Britain’s smallest National Park. It may be small, but its 218 square miles packed full of ancient woodland, heather-clad heaths, bluebell trails and picturesque villages are enchanting.
Nearly 1,000 years ago William the Conqueror used the New Forest as a hunting ground for wild deer and boar, and today it’s home to around 4,000 ponies, cattle and deer who roam freely in the ancient woodland. You won’t be short of wildlife watching opportunities as you explore the New Forest, but for a closer look at its wild inhabitants, visit the New Forest Reptile Centre or take part in a Deer Watch event.
The park’s rich history means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to attractions, and historic houses, museums and gardens are the order of the day here. The town of Beaulieu has something for everyone, with the 13th-century Beaulieu Abbey, Beaulieu Palace House and Gardens and the National Motor Museum.
The New Forest National Park is a haven for activity lovers too. Explore the forest on foot, bike or horseback, or take to the water for a spot of canoeing, kayaking or sailing. If that doesn’t wear you out, why not play a round or two of golf or explore the 26 miles of tranquil, unspoilt coastline?
1. Get to know the New Forest on a ‘New Forest in a Nutshell Walk’, guided by a friendly National Park Ranger.
2. Start your day with a refreshing dip in the Lymington Sea Water Baths, the oldest lido in the UK.
3. Visit Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary and watch the local Fallow Deer get fed.
4. Take a tour of the Ringwood Brewery, where you can taste malted barleys, have a sniff of the hops, and watch the fermentations bubbling away.
5. Explore the spectacular Exbury Gardens on the site’s own steam railway.
Find out more http://www.thenewforest.co.uk/