Things to do in the New Forest
PUBLISHED: 10:19 12 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:26 12 October 2015
Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons in the Forest, with golden leafy tracks and stunning heathland sunsets...there is much to explore. From cider farms to spas, Claire Pitcher has plenty of suggestions to fill 48 hours
The New Forest is well known to foodies. Whether it’s Michelin star restaurants such as The Montagu Arms in Beaulieu, farm shops or beer and cider producers, the forest is fit to burst with tasty treats. One of the best ways to discover its delights is on The South Food Trail. Simply hire a bike, follow the directions and discover The Station House at Holmsley, before heading to Burley for a pint of New Forest Cider and bag of Burley Fudge. If time permits, you can also call at the award-winning Setley Ridge Farm Shop. Find out about the trails at www.thenewforest.co.uk.
As summer turns to autumn, the Forest becomes a sight to behold as the trees show off their orange and gold foliage. What better way to see it all than on horseback? Whether you’re a beginner or expert rider, a hack across the many varying landscapes of the Forest is a special treat. Try Burley Manor Riding Stables (01425 403489), Burley Villa School of Riding (01425 610278) or Ford Farm Stables (01590 623043) in Brockenhurst.
Luxury in the Forest
Imagine you’ve been out walking in the forest all day - it’s been a cold and windy hike and your legs are aching already. There’s no better post-walk treatment than a good few hours at a spa. At Careys Manor in Brockenhurst, SenSpa has some amazing hydrotherapy treatments. From powerful jets for massaging your back, to their Crystal Steam Room and Laconicum to ease your muscles - after a few hours you will feel like a new person. And it’s not just the spa you can indulge in at Careys’, whether you choose to stay overnight or not, you must try their new Cambium restaurant. Chef Paul Peter’s uses local ingredients wherever possible and the service is as first class as the food itself. A two-night Zen Spa Escape, which includes dinner, breakfast, lunch in the Zen Garden and access to the spa costs £330 per person. Go online to find out more at www.careysmanor.com or call 01590 624467. For forest views as you spa, another treat is Lime Wood Hotel in Lyndhurst. Prices start from £105 per person, call 02380 287177.
Amused at the Museum
The New Forest National Park is a very special place and there are lots of historical and geological facts to uncover if you visit the New Forest Museum in Lyndhurst. You can discover why ponies are kept on the Forest and all about Commoning rights, among lots of other things. The museum is part of the New Forest Centre, which also houses the wonderful New Forest Gallery, a gift shop and library. Don’t forget to go pumpkin carving on the 27th. Entry costs £4 for adults, under 16s free. See www.newforestcentre.org.uk.
A trip to the New Forest wouldn’t be complete without exploring what this pretty village has to offer. There are plenty of tea rooms, not to mention chocolate shops, but if it is raining, a good option for all the family would be to visit Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum, Palace House, the medieval Abbey and, weather permitting, the grounds and gardens. Just the one ticket (£18 in advance) gets you in to all of the attractions. There are lots of events happening in October too, including an Evening with Jim Redman on the 3rd, a Paranormal Investigation on the 30th and Beaulieu Fireworks on the 31st. To book tickets see www.beaulieu.co.uk
Ross Kempson of Cyclexperience shares his New Forest tips
• Why is the New Forest such a popular destination for cyclists?
It is one of the most unique places to cycle in the UK. With over a 100-mile network of designated trails, it’s perfect cycling for all ages and abilities! Cycling is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience the stunning scenery, roaming animals and expansive range of traditional pubs and cafés.
• Is it true that Cyclex started in a shed?
Yes it did! From humble beginnings Cyclexperience started in 1993 from a dilapidated stable building in Brockenhurst. With a £5,000 loan from the Prince’s Trust, 35 bikes, a shoddy promotional leaflet and a telephone, New Forest Cycle Hire Centre was born! Cyclexperience Ltd is now one of the most prominent and unique cycle businesses on the south coast, with four retail shops stocking hundreds of cycles and accessories. We also offer first class bike repairs from NVQ accredited technicians and the biggest one-stop cycle hire shop in the New Forest, with almost 200 models available from our 100ft wooden Cycle Shack in the overflow car park at Brockenhurst Rail Station.
• There are lots of cycle routes to choose from across the Forest – but which is your favourite?
My favourite is definitely one of the most popular routes at our hire centre - Deer and Beer. This cycling route is around 25 miles and 90 per cent off road. It is one of our longer routes, which showcases the varied terrain of the Forest, so you really get to see the best that the New Forest has to offer - it even has a welcomed stop off at a local New Forest pub. We also have Garmin cycling sat navs for those that are not good with a map.
• Why should visitors opt to hire a bike to get around?
The New Forest looks beautiful all year round but it is particularly stunning in autumn during the fall - it has often been compared to the UK’s very own New England. October is a great time to cycle and take in the sights of the beautiful New Forest. The designated cycle paths are suitable for cycling all year round, so there is no need to worry about getting stuck in the mud.
• As well as mountain bikes, you also have some more unusual cycles… can you tell us about them?
We have something for everyone here at Cyclexperience. We now have a bicycle made for three which is a guaranteed ride full of laughter and fun as you master the act of balancing. We also have All Ability bikes, which are suitable for anyone with special needs, as well as a wide range of adapted cycles including hand cycles, wheelchair cycles, tricycles and recumbent cycles.
• What do you like the most about living and working in the New Forest?
For me the best thing is the wonderful variety of animals, trees and nature that can be found - there isn’t anywhere else quite like it and I love that it is so unique.
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