Great Drives in Hampshire: 1 - Brockenhurst to Beaulieu
10:28 03 August 2015
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Motoring enthusiast Mark Whitchurch takes us on the first of his Great Drives series, through the New Forest and on to Beaulieu Autojumble, in a Land Rover Discovery Sport
We start our series of Great Drives across Hampshire with a scenic tour of the New Forest. Nestled in the heart of what was once William the Conqueror’s Royal hunting ground is Lyndhurst, where we start our journey. Often referred to as the capital of the New Forest, this charming town is bustling with quaint shops, cosy tea rooms and old world pubs. The local church of St Michael and All Angels is where former resident and the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell is buried. But for a motoring enthusiast like me, it’s difficult to ignore the plate glass frontage of the Meridien Ferrari and Maserati dealership that blends into the local architecture at the bottom of the high street…it’s good to dream!
Leave Lyndhurst on the A35, in the direction of Christchurch, this main artery of the New Forest is lined with trees now boasting their full complement of summer leaves.
Pass over the river of Highland Water, and then look out for a turning on the right for Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, which is lined with spectacular rhododendrons and azaleas. Now head for Brockenhurst and enjoy the view of majestic old trees and swathes of bracken filling the forest floor. As you enter Brockenhurst, Rhinefield Drive becomes Burley Road. Look out for the left turning through the water splash onto Brookley Road in the direction of the A337. Brockenhurst is another jewel in the New Forest’s crown, where thatched cottages mingle with the traditional red brick architecture so typical of the area - also look out for the highland cattle that like to graze in this part of the forest.
Leave Brockenhurst on the B3055 heading for Beaulieu. As the road winds its way through the trees, the views are more open with pastures and farmland visible through the hedgerows. Pass over the Lymington River to a road junction where it’s a right turn to remain on the B3055 with a signpost for Beaulieu, and back into the forest again with neat grass banks separating the road from its depths. After a few more miles, the trees are replaced with a great expanse of open grassland - it’s as if moving from one world to another.
The road straightens and is more flowing, with pretty purple heathers and gorse lining the route. At Hatchet Pond, where the B3055 meets the B3054 to Lymington and B3056 to Beaulieu, continue straight ahead to our final destination. Pass through the idyllic village of Beaulieu on your right and just past the Mill Dam is the entrance to the National Motor Museum.
Naturally, this is one of my favourite places in the country. I make this pilgrimage twice a year for the museum’s vast autojumbles, once in May and again in September. They are a spectacle in themselves and are rated as one of the best in the world. The saying goes ‘if you can’t find it at Beaulieu Autojumble, then it probably doesn’t exist’. However, it’s the people and the personalities that really make these events so special, it’s like an international community, working to keep cars of yesteryear on the road. For me, it’s this unique aspect that makes Beaulieu’s Autojumbles such alluring events and a must on the motoring calendar. For more information on events and displays at the National Motor Museum, log onto www.beaulieu.co.uk or ring 01590 612345.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the new entry level model and replacement for the Freelander. Face on you could be forgiven for thinking the Discovery Sport is a twin to the incredibly successful Range Rover Evoque. From the windscreen back the Discovery Sport starts to reveal its own identity. Whilst the Evoque’s roofline dips to give its signature stance, the Discovery Sport maintains a traditional horizontal line that squares off with the tailgate – it’s as if a giant has grasped the roof of an Evoque and raised it back up into place, stretching out the rear lights to maintain proportions.
The result is a machine that has much of the Evoque’s style but, being slightly longer, has the practicality of five full time seats and another two that store in the boot floor, making the Discovery Sport a genuine seven-seater proposition. The second row of seats can also move forward and aft, creating a large boot space or rear leg room depending on the journey.
The driving experience is sublime. Tested in 2.2-litre 188bhp turbo diesel format, and mated to an automatic gearbox, there is a manual if would prefer, performance was smooth and plentiful with grunt for swift over overtaking whilst still returning more that 40mpg on our Great Drive.
A leather lined cabin complemented with high grade plastic and alloy detailing are married to Jaguar/Land Rover high quality generic switchgear, helping to instill family linage and giving the Discovery Sport an ambiance to rival its Germanic competitors in this market. A clear Sat Nav display with touch sensitive controls for all major driver comforts helps to inject the right dose of practicality in this thoughtful design.
With prices starting from, £32,395, this is much more than an entry level model, the Discovery Sport is testament that the Land Rover range is without doubt a cut above the competition.