Friday, 30 December 2016

A much-needed break after Christmas

Hosted Christmas? Wrapping, shopping, preparing, cleaning, cooking, tidying up, making beds, washing……………… guests have finally gone and you’re left a shattered husk.

Maybe you need a short break to find your mojo?

Imagine waking up in a gorgeous cottage with ponies grazing outside your window with nothing to do but don a woolly scarf and go exploring on foot, bike or car. Or maybe, watch the wildlife from your armchair and cosy down in front of a roaring log fire with a glass of your favourite tipple. January in the New Forest is quite magical. Trees and heathlands twinkle with frosty crystals, and the sounds of nature prevail in midwinters hazy sunshine - pure serenity and totally relaxing.

There are plenty of wonderful restaurants, traditional pubs, cafes and eateries to explore in the area with exciting menus. The forest has a huge drive to feature what’s fresh and local. You’ll find many menus feature dishes of fish, meat and produce from within a 30-mile radius. Farm shops in particular are fabulous to pop in for an inspirational, quick and easy supper to take home and pop in the oven with minimal effort. A lot of farm shops cook and chill or freeze their own recipes, and you’ll find many of them also stock local crafts and gifts.

The New Forest has an award-winning vineyard worth exploring called Setley Ridge. Stop by and you’ll find a terrific farm shop which not only sells wine, but also offers free wine and cheese tasting, a café and garden centre. Danestream farm shop near New Milton stocks fruit, veg and free-range meat and poultry – check out their awesome home-made sausages. Hockeys Farm Shop near Fordingbridge is more a destination than a shop. Their Farmyard café serves a loyal throng of locals and visitors hearty breakfasts, lunch and afternoon teas, with recipes hallmarked by locally made artisan produce. To the west of the New Forest, Crow Farm Shop has a lovely little café and sells everything local that’s in season. Pondhead Farm in the north of the forest is home to Woodgreen Community Shop, open every day from 6.30am. The shop and café is a favourite meeting place for locals and visitors alike. Bread is baked onsite and don’t miss their deliciously scrumptious pies, made from secret recipes handed down through the generations.

If you’ve been cooking all Christmas, you deserve to take it easy and let someone else take over. The joy about staying in a cottage, is not being tied to a hotel restaurant. The diversity and quality of restaurants in the New Forest is truly sensational. Try The Cartwheel Inn near Fordingbridge for amazing home-cooked food, log fires and friendly service. The Elderflower Restaurant in Lymington is sublime. Chef Patron Andrew Du Bourg (formerly Head Chef at 5* Chewton Glen hotel and Michelin starred Club Gascon, London) creates modern British/French cuisine which is out of this world. Travel along the coast a few miles to the village of Milford on Sea and you’ll find Verveine. It’s a fishmongers, Deli and restaurant. Chef/Patron David Wykes who has worked in some of the finest restaurants in the world including Restaurant Jules Albert, and the famous Restaurant Chantecler at the Hotel Negresco in Nice opened Verveine a few years ago and wins amazing rave reviews.
For cottages with logs fires and home comforts that make you smile try…
The Old Barn in Exbury is a spacious, restful and stylish home from home. Close to the shoreline for walks along the beach, yet surrounded by ancient woodland and vibrant wildlife of the forest. This cute little barn makes for a sophisticated, relaxing retreat.
Fyfield Cottage in Everton is the perfect bolt hole for 2. Stay in this truly gorgeous 300-year-old cob cottage with chunky beams, oodles of character and lots of history. It’s also a short toddle to a fabulous pub called The Crown that serves heavenly food.
Whiteshoot Farm in Redlynch to the north of the forest is a luxurious converted barn with stunning architecture, set in six acres of private land and wonderful views. It has its own lake and boat, a vineyard and a truffle orchard. There’s even a tree house and zip wire if you fancy it!

Seagull Cottage in the Georgian marine town of Lymington in the south of the forest has a pretty high street full of independent boutiques, restaurants and a Saturday market. A great base to pootle around the area, unwind and get your sparkle back.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Spend Christmas in the New Forest

If you're thinking of spending Christmas somewhere enchanted and magical, then come and stay with us in the New Forest.

We’ve a busy diary of dates, events and festivities taking place all over the forest. Christmas fayres, festive farmer’s markets and encounters with reindeer to winter wonderlands, grottos filled with toys, pantomimes and shows all regaling the spirit of Christmas.

Famous attractions such as The National Motor Museum, Highcliffe Castle, Paultons Park, incorporating Peppa Pig World and Longdown Activity Farm have terrific activities for all the family.

Villages and towns deck themselves with twinkly lights. Huge Christmas trees are dressed amidst sounds of carol singers where mulled wine is the order of the day. Evening skies are inky black, and mornings are frosty crystal white.  A wonderful time of year for walks amongst the free roaming New Forest ponies in their thick fluffy coats, crunching through the woods and heathland.

There’s an amazing array of dining options to choose from throughout Christmas time. Think traditional thatched inns, quaint pubs, bistros, cafes and restaurants offering simple seasonal morsels, through to fine dining tasting menus.  Alternatively, pop into one of the regions plentiful farm shops and discover scrumptious delicacies from local artisans, producers and suppliers to take back to your cottage for dinner.

The beauty of staying in your own cottage is space to relax! After a day out, come home, slip in to your PJ’s, grab a glass of something gorgeous and maybe a buttery mince pie? Hunker down in front of a roaring log fire and enjoy the enchanting merriment of a very festive Christmas.

Cottages in beautiful locations with logs fires available this Christmas:

Acres Down Farm Cottage, sleeps 6 in Minstead
Number Four, sleeps 5 in Hordle
1 Rose Cottage, sleeps 4 in Brook
1 Heath View, sleeps 4 in East End

Friday, 14 October 2016

Unique New Forest Pannage Pigs

The New Forest has a unique tradition in terms of scale, not seen anywhere else in the UK called ‘Pannage’. Pannage season sees hundreds of domestic pigs set free in to the forest to eat acorns, which are poisonous to the free roaming New Forest ponies and cattle.

The season starts when the first acorns begin to fall – which is usually mid-late September and lasts through November or later, if there is a large harvest of acorns.  You’ll see Pannage Pigs out in the forest and along paths and sometimes roads (remember the 40 miles speed limit). The pigs often have one or more rings through their noses. This is to stop them foraging too deep in to the ground which can damage vegetation.

The Pannage Pigs are owned by ‘commoners’ who are locals with property adjoining the forest with ancient rights to let their pigs forage during designated times of the year, or by special license. The pigs adore scrumptious acorn nibbles and soon fatten up to provide a unique sweet, nutty tasting, tender pork.

Check out the farm shops and independent butchers when you’re here and cook a meal back at your cottage.

Take a look at:
Old Farm Cottage, Pilley sleeps 8
1 Heath View, East End sleeps 4

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Two of the best New Forest Festivals are on this autumn!

The New Forest is wonderful to visit any time of year with each season unveiling a new landscapes, flora, fauna and wildlife. Yet autumn is that little bit special… leaves twist and turn in vibrant sparks of oranges, reds and yellows. Conkers and acorns scatter the woodland floor on deep blankets of leaves making a truly wonderful scrunch on autumn walks.

Talking of which…

October 15 – 30 is the New Forest Walking Festival
This festival is not to be missed. There are 80 guided walks for all ages and abilities covering fabulous topics such as - Free-roaming pigs, ponies and the traditional rights of commoning, Ancient woods and the Forest’s largest oak tree, Wild play and family adventure walks, The Japanese practice of ‘Forest bathing’, World War II secrets from a prisoner of war camp, Guided packhorse and alpaca walks and Photography workshops in stunning locations. The walks are guided by local experts who are happy to share their knowledge of the area, and walks often start and finish at traditional New Forest inns, pubs and eateries. What’s more, they are very affordable, some being completely FREE!

Cottages with week long and weekend availability during the New Forest Walking Festival:
Old Farm Cottage, sleeps 8, Pilley
Fyfield Cottage, sleeps 5, Everton
Heywood Cottage, sleeps 3, Boldre

The first ever New Forest Food Festival 31 October – 6 November
For anyone who loves food, you really should come and visit The New Forest Food Festival. This is a week-long celebration of nature’s forest harvest.  Celebrity chefs join cooks and local chefs in educational events, food tasting and themed menus. They’ll be using New Forest fare with ingredients from local producers and artisan suppliers. A delicious informative week mixed with scrumptious feasts and exciting flavours!

Cottages with week long and weekend availability during the New Forest Food Festival:
The Coach House, sleeps 8, Beaulieu
Pink Cottage, sleeps 4, Lymington
Megs, sleeps 2, East Boldre

New Forest this autumn - what's on!

For many, autumn in the New Forest is their favourite time of year. The crowds have long gone, Nature’s pantry doors are open, mushrooms and fungi are prolific, trees and bushes are laden with fruits – such as blackberries, sloes, crab apples and rosehips. The sun still shines and there’s an autumnal smell of damp leaves in the air from frosty mornings.  
Visitors can see native New Forest ponies don their fluffy winter coats, Pannage Pigs snuffling acorns and dabbled greens from summer morph in to a vibrant blaze of crimson reds and orange. Forget travelling thousands of miles to Americas New England for tree peeping and natural woodland beauty, come to the New Forest.
Take a look at our ‘Offers’ page and short breaks availability on individual cottage pages.

New Forest Foraging and Fungi Forays
Unless you really know what you’re looking for, we recommend you go on an organised walk with an expert – they’re great fun. Once professionally identified, you’ll have the most wonderful fresh feast to take back to your cottage for dinner! There are lots of companies and individuals who offer foraging walks on the web, but look around carefully as prices vary dramatically.

Take a look at:
Dial Cottage, Bransgore sleeps 4
Alexander Cottage, Pennington sleeps 4

New Forest Cider annual steam pressing weekend 15th & 16th October 2016
New Forest Cider in Burley hold an annual cider pressing day. Using apples from their own orchards, see how they make cider the old fashioned traditional way. There will also be country craft demonstrations, tea rooms enjoy one of the New Forest’s best cream teas and a wonderful farm shop.

Take a look at:
Heath View, East End sleeps 4
Bickton Mill, Fordingbridge sleeps 7

New Forest Walking Festival 15 – 30 October
For nominal fees, you can book on to dozens of walks of various lengths for all ages and abilities, led by the New Forest National Park authority and supported by experts in their field.  Learn about the forest’s heritage, wildlife, foraging, birds, history and quirky facts – there are also accessible walks and short strolls for all generations.

Take a look at:
Marshlands, Breamore sleeps 4
Fyfield, Everton sleeps 5

New Forest Food Festival 31st October – 6 November
The first ever food festival looks set to ignite taste buds! There is a huge menu of events, tastings, tipples, live demos and markets, with many of the regions producers, artisans and restaurants creating seasonal menus and products.

Take a look at:
White Copse, Burley sleeps 8
Meg’s, East Boldre sleeps 2

Beaulieu Fireworks 29th October
One of the biggest displays on the south coast. This year, the fireworks will be choreographed to ‘Music from the movies’. There will be a range of entertainment for the whole family including a fairground and live entertainment. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Free Things To Do in the New Forest

Walk, cycle and run!

There are over 143 miles of cycle tracks in the New Forest’s 193,000 acres and hundreds, if not thousands of unmarked trails. Grab a map and discover why the New Forest is such a special and beautiful place to explore.

Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary

Deer are timid animals, especially if you go looking for them! A heard of Fallow Deer gather on the meadow at Bolderwood, mainly because they are fed every day from April through to September. There’s a viewing platform, so you can get some great photos and watch the deer in their natural habitat. It’s worth noting that these are wild deer, so you’re not guaranteed a sighting, but more often than not, you’ll be rewarded by their presence.  The main car park is close by with a large lawn, picnic tables and BBQ area.

Swim and sunbathe

There are some gorgeous beaches along the New Forest Coastline and lovely spots for swimming.
Highlights include Highcliffe beach, Milford on sea and Barton on Sea.

Hampshire Open Studios

20th – 29th August 2016 you can visit studios, art galleries and meet the artists from the New Forest and Hampshire region who are exhibiting original artwork. For a brochure email

Go Geocaching!

The New Forest is a brilliant destination for Geocaching. For those that don’t know, Geocaching is like a treasure hunt for all age groups using GPS. It’s a great way to see the area and great fun. You’ll need to register on the Geocaching website first. When you get to the forest, navigate GPS coordinates and hunt for the hidden ‘Geocache’ container.

Fossil Hunting

Receive a free gift from thousands of years ago, in the form of a beautiful fossil from the New Forest. There are lots of spots along the coastline, the best being Barton Sea for gastropods and sharks’ teeth. Milford on sea is good for ironstones containing bivalves and gastropods. 

Lepe Country Park
Come here for the amazing views, lovely walk, WWII landmarks and some good old fashioned rest and relaxation. There’s a play area for smaller children and a large grassy lawn for picnics (there’s also a café/restaurant). Views are mesmerising from Lepe. The shoreline is about a mile to the Isle of Wight, and Southampton Water is a hive of activity with cruise ships and huge tankards navigating their way to and from the famous docks. To the left of the park are the remains and defences from the D-Day invasions with plaques describing the role the area played during WWII. A fantastic spot for watching Cowes Week.
Note: this isn’t a good spot for swimming due to the strong currents.

The Knightwood Oak

This huge and mighty tree is said to be the oldest in the forest – and it’s certainly gigantic. It’s estimated to be up to 600 years old and has a width of over seven metres. This area is also a nice place to stop with a blanket and picnic and soak up the atmosphere of this ancient forest.


Hours of fun and thrills can be spent crabbing, and there are two particular locations that are spot on. Lymington Quay and Keyhaven harbour are both busy little marine hotspots, great for watching the boats coming in and out of the harbour and people watching.   

Pootle about in your Dingy

Keyhaven and Christchurch harbour are wonderful expanses of water where you can spend hours bobbing about in your dingy.  Keep away from the busy entrances and boat traffic, and you’ll be rewarded by getting up close and personal with the entertaining wildlife and birds.  

Famous Graves

The New Forest has been, and still is home to some very famous folks. Head to the pretty church in Minstead village and you’ll find the grave of crime fiction writer and creator of famous Detective Sherlock Homes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1869-1930).
It’s said that the inspiration behind author Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, is thought to be local girl, Alice Liddell (1852-1934). Her grave is in the churchyard of Lyndhurst church.

Famous founder of modern nursing, social reformer and statistician - Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) is buried in St Margaret’s churchyard at East Wellow. In the church you’ll find a fibreglass replica (the original was stolen) of a Scutari Cross, which was made of bullets from the Crimea that was hanging in Florence’s bedroom when she died.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

What's on this summer

What's on in the New Forest - summer 2016

There are so many summer Events, Shows and Festivals in the New Forest at this time of year, we could fill up a daily calendar!

So we thought we’d make a list of our personal favourites. As the forest is quite small, you’re never more than a short drive away. If you’d prefer to be within an area of a particular event, show or festival, or even walking distance - we’ve added links to some of the properties close by.

5th June 2016
Roydon Woods Woodfair
Roydon Woods, Sandy Down, Setley near Brockenhurst
An annual event from The Wildlife Trust in partnership with the New Forest National Park - Lots of crafts and activities for all ages and the obligatory beer tent!                    

All year
Events at Highcliffe Castle
Rothesay Drive, Highcliffe.
The former home of Mr Selfridge himself (as appeared on the TV series), opens its doors to events in the stunning grounds throughout the year, including:
Wed 8th June, 7pm. Outdoor Theatre Hamlet performed by The Festival Players
Sunday 12th June, 2pm to 4pm Love Soul Choir
Sunday 3rd July Classic Cars on the Prom 11am-4pm (outdoors)
Sunday 4th September Swing Unlimited Big Band and the 3 Counties Car Club 1pm-4pm (Outdoors)
Sunday 6th November Grandma's Attic Antiques Fair 11am-4pm (Indoors)
Wednesday 14th December Christmas Carol Concert 7:30pm (Indoors)

10, 11 & 12 June
Hurst Dubfest
Lower Pennington Lane, Lymington
Lovely family festival, themed around VW vintage campervans and beetle cars! Music, craft, dance, food and drink with competitions and fun for little ones as well as the adults.

2 July
Round the Island Race
The largest race of its kind in the world with approx. 16,000 sailors - both professional and amateur, taking part from the UK, Europe and the USA. See 1,700 beautiful yachts battling to be first around the Isle of Wight.                               

3rd July
Lymington Italian Festival & Food Market
Lymington town High Street
Come and be wowed at the sight of some 50 or so Ferrari Cars in the High Street from midday to 4pm. There’s music and entertainment for all ages, and an Italian Market brimming with scrumptious continental foods.

6 to 10 July
New Forest Folk Festival
Salisbury Road, Plaitford, Romsey
A truly family run festival with delicious home-made food hosted by the Curtis Family and friends! There’s a great vibe with music, sing-a-rounds and Morris Dancing.  Don’t forget to bring your folding chair! Sit back and enjoy the sound of budding and famous folk artists who mingle in the fields and bar tents, chatting to the friendly crowd – many of whom travel great distances to attend.

7 - 9 July
Lymington Arts Festival
This festival is a stunning collection of arts and activities. You’ll see art, crafts, dance, drama, embroidery, floristry, music, photography, poetry, sculpture, quilts and textiles. There will be galleries, workshops and displays at various venues around the town each day.

10 July
Giant Water Slide down Lymington High Street!
Whether you’re an onlooker or participant, this event promises to be full of fun to ride a huge waterslide down Lymington High Street! If you take part, you’ll be wet at the end - so come prepared! Fun outfits and fancy dress are fully encouraged! For more info and to get an allotted time, email This is a one off event charity event! First slide starts at 11am.

10 July
Ringwood Pedal Car Grand Prix
This annual race is one of the biggest of its kind, and attracts around fifty pedal-powered competitors. There’s lots of fun filled spirit and plenty of crashes. The junior event takes ninety minutes, and precedes the open class for adults which lasts a gruelling two hours! Teams take turns powering their home-made creations around the 1km course. Great fun to watch and competition is fierce!                            

16 July
Fordingbridge Summer Festival
Recreation Ground, Fordingbridge
Flower tents, craft village, steam engines, vintage cars, heavy horses and dog displays are just some of the attractions featured. This is a festival for all ages with lots of things to see and do – including the famous ‘Duck Race’.

22 to 24 July
Curious Arts Festival
East End, Lymington SO41 5SJ
The boutique festival (which wins rave reviews) has a huge and eclectic mix of literature, music, snail races, opera, stand-up comedy and unforgettable experiences for grown–ups and children alike. Plus some lovely food and drink!

26 – 28 July
New Forest and Hampshire County Show
New Park, Brockenhurst
A fantastic show focused around traditional country pursuits and visited by thousands of visitors. There’s so much to see and do, such as: show jumping, art and cookery demonstrations, a show farm, tug of war with a tractor and even pottery making. As you’d expect, there are oodles of food and drink stalls and a food hall to browse and buy delicious, artisan produce. Not to be missed.

6 to 13 August
Cowes Week
Cowes Week is the longest-running sailing regatta in the world. The event is held on the Solent – between the Hampshire coast and Isle of Wight. The area is a hive of activity, and seascape studded with boats of all shapes and sizes.

13 August
Ellingham & Ringwood Agricultural Show
Somerley Park, Ellingham, Ringwood
A lovely show full of countryside tradition. The livestock area is a firm favourite – especially for children. Lots of handicrafts including lace making and spinning. There are over 100 trade stands, food, drink, home-made produce, locally made toys and children’s entertainment makes for a great day out.

13-14 August
New Forest Fairy Festival
Burley village
For all things Fairy and Elf this is a fun and friendly magical place to visit, but not just for children – though they’ll love it! Expect a weekend of entertainment and workshops for the whole family around the magical fairy theme. Handmade arts and crafts, artwork, live music, bands, story-telling, belly dancing and more. If you arrive (as many do) in Fairy and Elf Costumes, you’ll be sprinkled with New Forest Fairy dust!

10th September
Romsey Agricultural and Horse Show
Broadlands, Romsey
This substantial show is one of the oldest in England, held annually since 1842. Showcasing the best of British farming, it is a vital part of the County’s social calendar.  Cattle and sheep from across the region compete for glory in the livestock classes. Hundreds of horses are entered in a huge number of equine events that range from show jumping and heavy horses to side saddle and best donkey.

28th September
Beaulieu Road Pony Sales
Across the road from Beaulieu Road railway station
Sales start at 10.30am. The Beaulieu Road Sales yard is used primarily by commoners (owners of the ponies on the New Forest) to sell their ponies by auction.