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New Forest (Hampshire)

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National Park. The New Forest Committee Officer, The New Forest Committee, 4 High Street, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7BD. Tel: +44 (0)1703 284 144 Fax: +44 (0)1703 283 983. E-mail: newforestcommittee@btinternet.com.

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      28.06.2010 16:07
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      A place that everyone should visit

      When you talk to people, there are always places that they remember from childhood - Sunday afternoon places, peaceful, laughing places, where some of the most precious memories are made. For me, one of these places is a small clearing in the New Forest, where my family and I used to meet our grandparents and cousins from Bournemouth for picnics and cricket during the Summer. These afternoons were the beginning of an inescapable love affair with the New Forest. In this review, I hope to introduce you to one of the UK's most underrated National Parks, and to explain why this stunning region should be at the top of everyone's to-do list. What and where? Becoming a National Park in 2006, the New Forest seen from the road seems only a tiny pocket of mixed woodland and heath tucked into southern Hampshire. But at 571km2 it clocks in at two thirds the size of the Lake District, and is a region of much greater complexity and potential than a brief observer would realize. A little history The New Forest is the proud owner of a very interesting history. Designated a hunting area by William the Conqueror in 1079, the landscapes and the systems used to manage it have remained largely the same for almost a millennium. Two of William's sons, Richard and King William II (Rufus) were later killed in the forest, with the site of William II's death marked by the Rufus stone. Since its first founding the forest has moved from being a hunting site to an important source of timber, first for the royal navy and later for the First and Second World Wars. The New Forest is also interesting in that it is covered by Commoners Rights, which preceded the adoption of the forest by William I but were later reinforced by acts of parliament. These acts related to the right of local people to graze sheep and cattle on the land and to collect peat and bracken. The grazing of livestock has become an important part of the maintenance of heathland in the area, and every year local farmers still run pigs through the broadleaf forests to eat the acorns. The law and history of the Forest are intriguing - but it does give you a bit of a shock when your picnic is disturbed by a huge sow and a bunch of squealing piglets! The lay of the land The region of the New Forest contains habitats with widely differing personalities. The most famous of these is the broadleaf woodland that gives the area its name, a gorgeous mixture of ancient trees such as oaks and beeches, where stony tracks and tiny streams track across sun dappled floors and into secret clearings. Then there are the plantations, mostly managed by the forestry commission, patches of intensely dark conifers that block all light and hide a host of birds. The final, and often forgotten, part of the forest is actually the part that contains no trees at all, the heath land - a highly endangered and important habitat. This landscape is often found on the higher areas of the national park, and so has a feeling of air and space which is not found in the closed forest. In Summer the heath is glowing, heat hazed and buzzing with insects: in Winter it becomes coated with frost, pale and shining and barren and beautiful. Wildlife The mixture of habitats, as well as the national rarity of these habitats, is the main reason behind the huge diversity of wildlife to be found in the New Forest. For birders the heath supports raptors like Hobbies, Honey Buzzards and this year a breeding pair of Goshawks, as well as lower occupants of the food chain like Dartford Warblers and Nightjars. The poster mammals are the gorgeous little New Forest ponies and species of deer including Roe, Red, Fallow, Sika and Muntjac, many of which can often be seen peeking at you through the trees. But one of the real gems of the forest lies in its reptile life. It is one of the few regions of the country to contain all three native UK snake species, although you have to get a seriously lucky break to see the rare smooth snake. Things to do As with many of the National Parks, the primary strength of the New Forest lies in its natural beauty and the opportunities that offers. There are many miles of walking, off road biking and horse riding trails, most of which have the added benefit of being easy to follow and so are open to pretty much anyone (although the easy landscape does not mean walkers should go out unprepared). These trails are also very good for families with younger children. For those who prefer to enjoy the countryside without expending quite so much energy, the forest is peppered with pretty towns like Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst, as well as visitor attractions like the Otter and Owl Sanctuary or the New Forest Reptile Centre. Lyndhurst also hosts the New Forest Centre, an information centre and museum which is very useful for those unfamiliar with the National Park. Of course, for many a day out in the countryside is not complete without a drink in a country pub, and here the New Forest comes into its own. The Alice Lyle and Red Shoot pubs are both good quality and family friendly pubs, but my particular favourite is the High Corner Inn, situated down a dirt track in the heart of the high forest. Although more commercialised than my Dad remembers it being when he was younger, it is still a wonderfully cosy little pub and one that we can't help returning to over and over again after a long walk. Places to stay Finding accommodation in the New Forest is actually spectacularly easy - searching for New Forest campsite turns up a whole heap of results, and for those who prefer a comfier bed there are rooms available in pubs, bed and breakfasts and hotels all over the region. Finding cheap places to stay is a little more difficult, especially during the Summer season, but the plus side is that the whole area is very family friendly and many campsites offer good facilities for children. How to get there and around The New Forest is one of the most accessible national parks, crossed by multiple decent roads and with lots of car parking space, although those aiming for some of the smaller car parks should aim to leave early. I'm afraid my normally rubbishness at giving directions will return here, but I can say with confidence that it's not difficult! It is also accessible by public transport, situated as it is on the train line between London Waterloo and Southampton and with frequent trains stopping at Sway, Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst. You can step onto the train in London and be strolling through the forest about an hour and a half later. The good points Where to start with the good points? Beautiful, unusual landscapes, hard to find in any other part of the country, open space near to some of the country's busiest towns, accessible, family friendly, and absolutely stuffed with things to do. The bad points The only major bad point of the forest is that, because it is so well connected and accessible, it is sometimes hard to escape the crowds on Summer weekends. Biking on the roads can be a challenge when traffic levels are high, and those used to the quieter confines of Dartmoor or Snowdonia might find the business of the area a little off putting. Recommendation Perhaps I am a little biased in favour of the New Forest. For many, it will pale when compared to the majestic grandeur of the Lake District or Snowdonia, because it doesn't have high mountains or huge lakes or anything like that. But it is a landscape of gorgeous subtleties, picnics under trees twenty times your age, long lazy Summer afternoons and chaotically colourful Autumns. I do, and always will, love the Forest to pieces for the memories that it contains for me. And I highly recommend that you go and make some memories of your own there. Thank you very much for reading and have a lovely Summer :)

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        16.01.2010 11:22
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        An area of exquisite beauty and national park status

        The new forest for me is the most beautiful area in the south and I absolutely adore it. I live very near to the forest and it is a magical, enchanting and mystical land combining of high density forested areas and barren lands, wild poines and cows. The area originally was founded and owned by william the conqurer in 1079 and used as an area for him to hunt deer, whilst he took residence at his hunting lodge of rhinefield house hotel situated on the edge of brockenhurst. The most exquisite hotel in the forest if you are intending to stay anywhere for a truely magical trip stay here. The whole area comprises of many villages stretching from ringwood, hampshire to southampton and stretches to the area of lymington which sits by the sea. Its now of national park status which has brought with it pros and cons but overall the land is now protected and can be used for walking, riding, picnics in certain areas and villages have specific camping areas where you can stay in the heart of the forest. Burley within the forest is the home of witchcraft and the new forest covern which still exists today. There are numerous witch craft shops, with beautiful artefacts within them and you may occassionally come across some areas where practice of the craft has taken place. If you are into this source of religion they even have witch craft workshops advertsied which could be rather interesting! Pubs are beautiful all over the new forest and it would be rare to find a bad one. They nearly all accept dogs and recommended are the alice lisle in blashford, high corner and the red shoot. The white buck in burley holds significance to the hunt which unfortunately is a area of debate within the forest but albeit this is a lovely pub and hotel to. All seasons in the forest are devine and you cant beat the views and scenery, scents and smells whilst walking. I have spent many an hour sitting and reading and picnicing with my family and freinds and soaking up every inch of beauty and magic. A particularly beautiful area is the arboretum situated just outside of rhinefirled on ornamental drive and is an area where specific tress from all over the world have been planted and they have plaques to state what they are and a trail around them. This is also the area to view the tall trees which are remarkable. Deer and ponies are a plenty and there are specific deer viewing points which are wonderful to see and if youre lucky enough you might even get to see the white buck which is a rare occurance. Ponies roam the roads and streets so beware when you are driving as there are speed limits throughout and they jump and run out alot. You cant go wrong when visiting the forest its just so incredibly beautiful and there is much to do and see as well as various locations with museums and activity points as well as the wanders through the village centres with chraming shops.

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        04.10.2009 14:10
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        A fantastic place for a holiday for the whole family

        My husband and I have just returned from a spur-of-the-moment mini-holiday in the New Forest. We were fortunate to experience nearly perfect weather conditions: slightly chilly with beautiful blue skies. What a lovely place for a holiday, with plenty of places to stay (catering for every budget) and oodles of activities to do. The new Forest is located along Britain's south coast spanning parts of Hampshire and Dorset. It consists of 145 square miles of heath and woodland and is teeming with New Forest Ponies who wander about at leisure. We made reservations at a lovely little B&B called the White House in Christchurch (will write a separate review for the accommodation). We selected Christchurch as it is a sea-side town on the edge of the New Forest, and we had access to the beach as well as being able to explore the forest. The New Forest has plenty of quaint little villages to explore as well as being home to Beaulieu where the British Motor Museum is situated (yet another review waiting to be written!). I decided to be very brave and suggested we spend a day hiring bicycles in the picturesque village of Burley. We got our bicycles at Forest Leisure Cycling for £13,50 each and paid another £1 for a cycling map. We chose the 12 mile 'deer sanctuary' route. I have not ridden a bicycle for 17 years and should maybe have selected a less challenging route! The whole purpose of the route was to see some deer, but alas we didn't even catch a glimpse of a single deer (and there are supposed to be 1500 fallow deer in the forest). Apart from the lack of deer, being out in the forest was spectacular. I huffed and puffed my way around the route (being very unfit) but I made it eventually - I have decided that perhaps I will stick to horse-riding in future! When we got back to Burley we spent some time mooching about the interesting gift shops and then had the most marvellous meal at the Queen's Head (I strongly recommend the food . . . we made use of their Monday - Friday 2 meals for £9,95 deal and my Steak & Ale pie was the best I have ever eaten!) Our short break didn't allow us to explore any more of the forest and the activities on offer, but I will definitely be returning there and there are plenty of suggested activities on the numerous websites dedicated to the New Forest.

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          27.07.2009 17:33
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          Your own adventures are the best!

          I think that the New Forest (situated in Dorset/ Hampshire) might be a perfect location for a holiday. It is natural and beautiful, there are lots of free things to do, you are never very far away from the coast - and it feels like a different world. It is just so relaxing - in fact, I feel so relaxed that I am hard pushed to get down to writing about how relaxing it was! The New Forest is an ancient and unchanged landscape. In 1079, William the Conquorer made sure the area was available to him for his hunting and fishing exploits and called it the 'Nova Forista'. Over 1000 years ago, a system was developed to manage the woodland and heathland (that is the 'New Forest') using Verderers, (judges), Agisters (stockmen), and Commoners (landusers)- of the forest. This is still the system that keeps the forest functioning. For example, the ponies of the New Forest live as if they are wild but they are each owned by a local person (Commoner). Each pony carries a brand mark which shows who 'owns' it. For each pony that they own, Commoners pay a small fee each year called the 'marking fee' which goes towards the employment of 'Agisters' who check up on the health of each pony regularly. Look carefully at the ponies' tails because they each have a set pattern which the Agister cuts into the tail to prove it has had a health check. There are four Agisters and a Head Agister who each cover a different area of the New Forest. Each of the Agisters has a unique pattern that is chopped into the tail. In this review, I will endeavor to give a flavour of some of the places we visited - as it is impossible to go everywhere as the place is so big. The forest is very well signposted and it is easy to find all of the different sites using a big colourful map that you can find in the helpful free newspaper, 'New Forest Focus' from the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority. This paper is widely available at campsites, car parks, shops and other attractions. I have put car parking information in - but many of the places are easily accessible by bike. A cycle path map is an essential item of kit. They cost £2 from many local stores all over the New Forest. Brockenhurst ----------------- We stayed just outside Brockenhurst - which is a bit of a central hub - having a railway station and being used as a place where many walks and cycle routes start. I thought that this was an excellent little town having one or two pubs, a shop selling camping equipment, a cycle shop, a great chip shop, a French Patisserie, teashops, bistro, bookshop and a busy Tesco Express. In fact, every facility that made for a comfortable stay. I particularly enjoyed ponies nibbling the grass verges in the town centre outside the chip shop. Blackwater (free car park and ice cream kiosk here) --------------- The New Forest comprises of deciduous and pine trees in the densely forested areas. Blackwater has a particularly high concentration of huge Douglas firs and redwoods. There are walks and cycle paths that take you past particularly massive trees. There is also the Blackwater Arboretum which is a wonderfull fenced off area where you can wander among trees of the world (helpfully named). This area is a delight to the senses as some of the trees are fragrant, the variety of trees is a visual wonder and the fairly small area has been laid out with great care and a Garden of Eden eye. We spent a very fine lunchtime eating a picnic on a rug laid on the softest grass in the dappled light of a vibrant small oak. Small sculptures were dotted about the place, it was very quiet apart from birds, a rabbit hopped here and there. I truly thought it was one of the loveliest 'gardens' that I have ever been in; you could see it had been put together with great vision but with love and simplicity. I did not want to leave! The space could also be used by disabled people as there was a flat gravel path all around the arboretum. Rufus Stone (Free car park) --------------- This is an area of woodland and heathland with the claim to fame of having the spot where King William II was killed with an arrow by Sir Walter Tyrell (aimed at a deer but which glanced off a tree and ended up in the King's heart). You can visit the small monument carved with inscriptions that were on the original tree telling how the King was taken away by a cart etc. We used this as a starting point for a 6 mile walk (from a great book called 'Mike Power's Walks In The New Forest' available in local bookstores and some village shops). This walk took us past delightful rural dwellings, friendly ponies (one came very close and nuzzled all up my arm), dense forest (where there was a glimpse of a shy herd of deer), the village of Minstead with a busy local pub and funny local shop which also sold cups of coffee and huge slabs of cake for a bargain price of £2. The dense forest was particularly noteworthy because we got lost in it. I answered a call of nature behind a tree and left the guide book there, only realizing it was gone a short while after we had walked for a bit. This necessitated a frantic search which lasted around an hour! This prompts me to comment on the markings of the public footpaths - they are few and far between - so great care should be taken when walking in the forest. We also met a couple of other walkers who helped us gain direction with their ordinance survey map and proper compass. They too admitted they had been lost in the forest before and it was a frightening experience. It is! Ordinance survey is a good idea. I should have been less tight and bought one. Lepe Country Park (Paying car park but not too expensive) ------------------------ A place of pine fringed cliffs and stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. You can do some cycling further into the park but the strong wind precluded this when we were there. There is a great walk (that can also be accessed by those with a disability) along the sea front if you wish to blow the cobwebs away. A local told me that the wind is stronger here because of the 'tunnel effect' created between the coast and the Isle of Wight. The walk takes you to the very interesting D Day remains on the beach a little further up. You can view for yourself how the beach was prepared for sending thousands of troops over to France. The wrecked evidence is clear to see and there is a handy key on a notice board which tells you which bit of wreckage did what. You really could picture the place packed with armoured vehicles all waiting to board the caciques in readiness for the horrific bloodbath that awaited them across the water. I wondered why the messed-up beach had not been dismantled many years ago - the grey concrete everywhere is an ugly (if interesting) eyesore. Was left because of a British pessimism - two world wars had been fought? Maybe there would be another? There are toilet facilities and a café and kiosk at the car park on the front. Roundhill ----------- This is the area with the campsite that we stayed at. It is notable because at the back of the site, on the cycle paths is the old Beaulieu airfield - operated in WWII. I wondered why there was so much grey concrete on the heathland but did a bit of research and put another piece in the war history jigsaw. Burley (paying car park - I parked in a café car park) ------- This village is like the Blackpool of the New Forest - and I don't think the two fit that well together. It is full of tacky, pseudo magical type shops and tea rooms and jam-packed with tourists and cars snaking through the tiny main road. There was an incident with some ponies - with impatient drivers trying to move the ponies in the road on. They became very confused and distressed. I found it very stressful to watch. I regretted stopping here and we moved on swiftly. Beaulieu (cheap car park but you can park for free on the village main street) ----------- This is a lovely village which is famous for its abbey ruins and the National Motor Museum (sorry - didn't visit it - not my bag). It had quite a few visitors but was not tacky. There was an amazing old-fashioned sweet shop that sold every sweet you could remember as a child. The queue in this shop was large with one frantic assistant also operating the ice cream sales from a window in the same shop. There is also a shop that sells some souvenir gifts and groceries and a Garden Centre. The teashop looked popular and had outdoor seating. Bucklers Hard (free car parking but we walked from Beaulieu) ----------------- This is a funny little village (2 miles from Beaulieu) with an extraordinary name. It was a formal naval ship-building yard in the 18th century. Nelson's fleet was built here in the Beaulieu River. It comprises of a single street leading down to the wide riverside. There is a lovely pub at the end of the street but most of the houses belong to the maritime museum which has many room displays of typical households in the 18th Century (I enjoy this kind of thing). You can wander in and picture yourself there. Admission is £5.90 for adults with small concessions for children and OAPs. I think it was a little pricey. There is also a little functioning chapel in the village. A great point is the village green where you can sit and enjoy your picnic with great views and some noisy seagull friends. We used our walk book and did another walk to this village along the riverside. It was well signposted and we did not really need the book. I think wheelchair users would find the walk difficult. Moors Valley Country Park and Forest (ridiculously expensive car park) ----------------------------------------------- This was another place I regretted going and we left 20 mins after arriving. Unless you stuff your people carrier full of kids who will have fun playing on the giant play trail (and lots were doing) don't bother. This is principally a place for little kids despite it having a golf course. The problem is that there are so many much nicer places to go for free in the New Forest that this place seemed dull and a lot less beautiful in comparison. It is however, accessible to those with disabilities. Mudeford (car parking approx £1 an hour) ------------ This is a lovely sea side resort that gives you a real old-fashioned sea side flavor. It is also home to the most expensive beach hut ever bought (£135000)! There are lots of basic beach huts along the front with people enjoying their day in them (tea brewing, toy fishing nets, towels, beach chairs, clutter). I was jealous. The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles - so better for beach chairs). There is a café, a coffee and tea kiosk and the best beachside shop I have ever been in with food, books, mags, beachwear and even some vegan snacks! I think that this is because the place is principally a middle class resort and this shop that catered to this market was doing a roaring trade. The public toilets are new and clean. I gasped in shock at their pristine appearance as I entered them. An important thing to note is the possibility of weaver fish lurking in the sand waiting for people to tread on their poisonous spines. The lifeguards had a scoreboard up on their hut - it said 'weaver fish 2 - people 0'. It is advisable to wear jelly shoes in the water (which was surprisingly warm - people were swimming). To Conclude ---------------- There is a lot to see and do in the New Forest but the best fun is to be had by your own making. Of course, you could take the 'New Forest Tour Bus' around the area which costs £9 per adult, £4.50 per child (under 5's and OAPs free), £22.50 for a group of 5. But I'm not sure that is the way you would have the best (and the best value) fun. You have to get out the bike or the walking boots and explore, making your own adventure. This is where the New Forest comes into its own. It is a natural place where you can paddle in streams, play in trees, spot deer and be moved by the simple pleasures of watching ponies and foals living in their friendship/family groups. In the driving rain, we walked in the forest, in the sunshine we lazed on the grass or sand, in the long evenings we cycled for miles but it never seemed that far. It is also a place that can be enjoyed by people with limited mobility. With a bit of local research in the widely available local literature, the forest can be opened up to all. I wanted a holiday where I could return to natural, simple (childlike) pleasures - and found delight, fun and excitement everywhere.

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            05.06.2009 20:40
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            Loved it

            Mr thecatsnose and I have just returned from our summer holiday, a wonderful week in the New Forest. This is the first time that we have holidayed in England and we enjoyed it so much that we wouldn't hesitate to do it again. In fact when I have finished this review I am going to have a peek and see how much it will cost for next year:) The Journey The New Forest is down near Southampton way, and it took us a respectable 4.5 hours to get there by car from Manchester. The journey wasn't too bad, not for me anyway - I was in the passenger seat! The Accommodation We hired a cottage via www.newforestliving.co.uk in Sway, which we found was well located to enable us to get around to the other towns and villages in the area. It was wonderfully quiet, not a car alarm in earshot - and a 200 foot long private garden - bliss! There are a range of cottages on the website, 'ours' cost £430 for the week for a 3 bed cottage that could sleep 5 people (and one dog too if you like). You pay per cottage not per person. What we did We had glorious weather, so we did quite a bit of sunbathing in clothes that we wouldn't dare wear in our own back garden, in addition to that we managed to visit:- Brockenhurst - for a general stroll around on a lazy day, and also to catch the train into Lymington. Brockenhurst has a good station that is well connected for the surrounding area. Beaulieu - it is famous for its Motor Museum, but unfortunately we didn't have time to go there - maybe next time! A lovely little village though, of the chocolate box variety. Lymington - we visited the street market which is held on a Saturday - fab, and had a wander down to the docks. You can also get a ferry to the Isle of Wight from here - again something to add to the list for next time for us. Milford on Sea - we had a whole section of pebble beach to ourselves, then had fish and chips in the local pub. Monkey World - Though that is in Dorset, not the New Forest, but we thought while we were down there we might as well go see. All of the little villages that we saw were lovely, all had gorgeous scenery and surroundings and lovely cottages. It was nice just to go and have a wander around. The Ponies There are Ponies and Cattle on most grass verges, and sometimes in the road, so it is important to have your wits about you when you are driving just in case. The animals are there just to be looked at, not touched, because they are wild and if one decides to give you a kick you would know about it! - that said if you don't bother them they wont bother you. The ponies and cattle have right of way on the country lanes and I loved seeing traffic stopped to find there was a mare and her foal trotting down the lane in front! The best thing I saw was a rather nervous looking lollypop man with 2 humongous horned beasts behind him - I wish I had got a photo of that! Other Things There are lots of things to see and do including walking, bike riding, horse riding, water sports to name but a few, you can be as active or relaxed as you like. We were lucky because we had fab weather, but that didn't make the holiday - the place did. We would have enjoyed it just as much if it had been piddling it down all week. Summary Don't be shy, give it a try - give holidaying in the New Forest a go if you haven't tried it before - just don't book 'our week' in 'our cottage'!

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              04.03.2009 16:55
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              Just splendid

              The New Forest is situated on the Southern coast of England. It has many areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), sites of specific scientific interest (SSSI) and is now a National Park. If you visit the New Forest you will find roaming ponies, cattle and in pannage season - pigs!!! I'm perhaps lucky enough to live in the beautiful New Forest. Like most people who live in touristy hot spots we probably never appreciate what people are coming for, but really enjoy the hidden treasures that a visitor would never find. The New Forest does have a lot to offer for both holiday makers and those who live there. It is unique situated close to the sea and has a thriving yachting community along the coastal towns of Lymington, Beaulieu and nearby Christchurch. The coastal leg of the New Forest runs onto the Solent which separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland and is a magnet for leisure sailors and yachties a like. The New Forest is not only forest as the name suggests, it has many square miles of heathland and moor. It is quite flat so makes cycling and hiking a great pastime. Many lanes in the forest have very little traffic and if you choose the right route you will see few cars. The Forestry Commision also have a fantastic network of gravel tracks in many of the inclosures. You can fairly easily find your way around the main forest areas without too much use of the roads. The Foresty Commission also have a few flagship car parks and tourist spots, these are very popular in summer. My advice would be to stray just a little further for a bit of piece and quite. The main tourist villages are that - for tourists. Personally I wouldn't bother visiting Burley or Lyndhurst. These are full of tourist shops and don't really represent true forest life. If you can get off the beaten track so to speak, you will find some delightful pubs and places to visit. There are many secrets of the forest and everyone local will have their own special place they like to visit. If you are visiting seek out the local pubs out of the main villages these offer great atmosphere and are almost a tourist atraction in themselves. You can stay in all sorts of places in the New Forest. The Forestry Commission run some great campsites, right in the woodland. If you're not careful you will wake up to horses eating your tent!!! There is also a wealth of self catering cottages, B & B's, hotels and guest houses. There is only a YHA in Burley and I have never seen it so I cannot comment. This is a shame as there is little offer in the way of budget accomdation in the forest. If you do come to visit the New Forest I strongly recommend getting up just before sun rise and going for a really early morning walk to get a glimpse of some of the wildlife many miss. A view of the last flight of the barn owl, stampede of deer or the wake up call of the birds is something which shouldn't be missed.

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                01.10.2008 17:25
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                A lovely piece of natural countryside with the benefit of wild ponies

                Myself and my boyfriend recently stayed in Southampton and visited the New Forest one day. We were lucky as the weather was gorgeous and we had a lovely day there. The New Forest itself is a great place for walking as the scenery is lovely, it's very open with a lot of bracken and shrubs and even some sandy areas. It's not really what I would call a forest. There are some woody areas, but the majority of it is very open. There are New Forest ponies that roam wild and sometimes even come down into the nearby towns and wander about at the side of the road,or even in the road. There are also cows which do the same, and several cows could be seen holding up the traffic in the village of Beaulieu. If you want to see the ponies then you really don't need to go far into the Forest as they are all over the place. The speed limit through the Forest drivethrough areas and the towns that are situated in the New Forest zone is 40 mph because of the wild animals that are roaming about. The ponies are not dangerous unless you threaten them. If you leave them alone then they will leave you alone. You are advised not to feed them as they are wild and you never know if they will bite or kick you if you offer them food. It is tempting though, and I did stroke a couple of the ones that were in the villages as they seemed really tame. The town of Lyndhurst is one of the bigger towns, although it is still really small with a few traditional shops such as craft shops and old fashioned sweet shops. There is a tourist infomation where you can pick up loads of free leaflets and maps and also gifts. If you have never been to the New Forest I would advise going to Lyndhurst first and then deciding where to go from there. There are loads of little villages, including Lymington and Beaulieu which is home to the car museum. I didn't visit the museum but I have heard that it's a great tourist attraction with loads of different cars from throughout the years. As well as driving through the forest, and walking through the open countryside, you can also hire bikes. It is a great place where you can wander about, taking in the natural british unspoiled countryside. At Lyndhurst there are some car parking areas on the edge of the New Forest Park so you can just get out and walk on the Parkland itself without having to walk to it from a carpark that is far away. It's a very relaxing place to visit and there are plenty of little villages in the New Forest Zone that have some great pubs and tea rooms to stop for lunch or a snack, or you could always take a picnic up onto the Forest parkland, but make sure the ponies and cows don't join you.

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                  23.10.2007 11:45

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                  Brilliant hotel with a great website (www.balmerlawnhotel.com) which made booking much easier.

                  My new husband and I stayed at the Balmer Lawn Hotel - www.balmerlawnhotel.com for our wedding night, which is situated in Brockenhurst in the New Forest. It was a wonderful hotel and we received excellent service. The facilities in the hotel and around it were excellent. There were so many activities available. The food was very good, and of a very high standard. We were so pleased with the decision that we made, and will definitely go back. This is a great New Forest Hotel. It would have made a great wedding venue, but unfortunately it was already booked for the day we wanted.

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                  27.04.2005 14:00
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                  ~~Summary~~ The New Forest is a great area for walking, viewing flora, fauna, ponies and other animals in the wild, also there are good beaches around Bournemouth. In the New Forest there are parks and activities for visitors, along with a variety of small towns and quaint villages to visit. Also there are many little gravel car parks dotted across the forest for visitors to park the car and have a wander at their leisure. ~~Location~~ The New Forest is located on the South Coast of England, it is about 90 miles South West of London in Hampshire. The New Forest covers an area of approximately 150 square miles and is roughly bounded to the south by the sea, to the east by Southampton Water and to the West by the River Avon. The New Forest is made up of woodland, heaths, marsh and some arable land. Approximately half of the area is made up of woodlands ranging from ancient deciduous trees to pine tree plantations. Open spaces of heath land take up the remaining half of the forest with the odd smattering of villages here and there. The only urban area of note within the boundary is Lyndhurst, however there are larger metropolitan areas nearby, these are Southampton to the east and Bournemouth to the south-west. ~~History~~ This is an abridged or quick version of the New Forest’s history, as I don’t want to bore you right now and I do not claim to have any qualifications or deep knowledge of history. ‘William the Conqueror’ created the New Forest, he was the first Norman (French) King of England and victor at Hastings, by defeating King Harold the last Saxon King. After his victory at the ‘Battle of Hastings’ in 1066, he ordered an inventory to be taken of his new territory, this inventory is better known as ‘The Doomsday Book’ and listed all peoples, villages and estates of England. Through the ‘Doomsday Book’ William’s advisors found an area in Southern England littered with wild deer and other game animals and very few people. In this area William the Conqueror set up his royal hunting grounds and called it the New Forest. The crown owns much of the area today, but commoners are still given rights to graze animals and collect wood as decreed by William over 900 years ago. ~~Getting there~~ ~By Air~ The nearest airports are at Bournemouth and Southampton, however these are smaller airports and tend to be utilised by smaller charter airlines. For schedule services Bournemouth mainly serves the Channel Islands and several European destinations, I personally use the ‘RyanAir’ service to Glasgow Prestwick at least once a year, its is cheap quick and convenient. Southampton has schedule services to most of the major cities in the UK, (except the major London airports) and several European destinations. If you are an international traveller coming by air you are likely to arrive in the UK at Heathrow or Gatwick, both are less than 100 miles away and you can reach the New Forest by road, rail or bus/coach. ~By Road~ From London and the South East the easiest route to the New Forest is via the M25, take junction 12 to join the M3. If you are coming from the North of England or from the Midlands try and work you way across to the M40. If you’re on the M1 take the A43 from Northampton to junction 10 of the M40. It is far better going this way than to go via the M25 car park. On the M40 head south to junction 9 and take the A34 south past Oxford. This joins up with the M3 at junction 9. Follow the M3 all the way to Southampton, where you will need to take the M27 West bound at junction 14. The M27 finishes at junction 1, which is just inside the New Forest boundary. The M27 changes to the A31, but if you want to get to the heart of the forest you need to leave at junction 1 and take the A337 to Lyndhurst. Please note that the A337 can get very busy in the summer hoildays. ~By Rail~ The main London to Weymouth rail line runs right through the New Forest. Starting at London Waterloo, the line runs via Southampton and ends in Weymouth. Rail stations of note for the New Forest are Southampton Central (main station), Totton, Brockenhurst, Sway, New Milton, Bournemouth and Lymington. There are other smaller stations in the forest, but most of them are unmanned and along way from anywhere like Beaulieu Road Station (one hotel, one pub and four houses) and only the slow trains will stop at these. ~By Bus/Coach~ The local scheduled bus service in the forest is pretty poor with it being on the edge of two rival companies. The two companies being Solent Blue Line and Wilts and Dorset. For the South West portion of the New Forest you are best sticking with Wilts and Dorset, their service is mainly in the Bournemouth area and along the southern part of the New Forest to Lymington. They have express services going straight through the forest but they only stop intermittently and are really for getting to Southampton from Bournemouth. They are however very good routes along the urban areas, so you can to get to the beaches between Christchurch and Lymington easily. Solent Blue line services are for Southampton and the surrounding areas. They don’t really stray much into the New Forest it self and will only get you as far as Totton or Hythe, right on the eastern boundary of the Forest. National Express coaches also do a service to the South Coast, their main coaches normally terminate in Southampton. I do know however that there is an airport service to Southampton and another service between Southampton and Bournemouth, but please check with National Express for more details. ~~Accomodation~~ There is the usual array of accommodation available in and around the New Forest. There are hotels, guesthouses, Bed and Breakfast (B&B’s) accommodation and finally there are campsites. There are only a few hotels right in the Forest and most of these are privately run, here is a list of some that I know. Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst Rhinefield House, Brockenhurst Chewton Glen, New Milton Busketts Lawn Hotel, nr. Ashurst Bartley Lodge Hotel, Cadnam Beaulieu Lodge Hotel, Beaulieu Forest Lodge Hotel, Lyndhurst Moorhill House Hotel, Burley I have only personally stayed in one of these hotels namely Rhinefield House, it has some lovely grounds and I saw numerous deer wandering the grounds early in the morning and late in the evening, definitely a place to stay. Busketts Lawn Hotel is also a personal favourite as it was where I had my wedding reception. It is easily reached from the M27 junction 1 or 2 it has a pool and is very quite. Again there are many guesthouses and Bed and Breakfast accommodations in the New Forest and here is another list: Lyndhurst House, Lyndhurst Forge Cottage, Lyndhurst Crossings, Brockenhurst Thatched Cottage Hotel, Brockenhurst There are many more to be found in Bed and Breakfast listings such as the AA B&B guides and on the internet. If you are really feeling adventurous then there are camping and caravan sites to stay in. Some of these are regulated by the Forestry Commission, as camping outside these sites on forestry land (aka: Guerrilla Camping) is illegal. Hollands Wood nr. Brockenhurst is one of the ten sites owned and operated by the Forestry Commission. There are also private landowners and campsites dotted in and around the New Forest that allow camping, here is a quick list. Sandy Balls Holiday Centre, Fordingbridge Bashley Park, New Milton Redshoot Camping Park, Ringwood ~~Towns and Villages of the New Forest~~ ~Lyndhurst~ The main town of the New Forest, Lyndhurst is the home of the New Forest District Council and also the main gateway to the heart of the New Forest. It is easily reached from the M27 via the A337, but in the summer the roads through Lyndhurst will be heavily clogged up with traffic. There is a car park in the centre of Lyndhurst for cars and some coaches. There is now a charge for parking, but if you are staying in the New Forest for a long time you could get a parking clock for a fee of £6, as April 2005. Lyndhurst has a church, several pubs, some good restaurants and numerous shops. The shops range from the tacky souvenir shops with postcards and sweets, to antique shops with expensive brass lamps and furniture items. For car freaks there is a Maserati showroom near the Stag Inn on the High Street, they have all the top models and is worth a stop to drool over the lovely Italian sports cars. For a better history of the New Forest there is a visitor centre in the car park, that describes the history and the future plans of the New Forest and is worth a visit if you want to find out more about the New Forest. ~Brockenhurst~ Brockenhurst is south of Lyndhurst, follow the A337 south out of Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst is about 4 miles away and is truly in the heart of the New Forest. It is very much geared for the tourist and in the off-season it can be quite and peaceful. The High Street has a small amount of local shops, cafes and a small car park. The train station has a few pubs around with the famous ‘Snake Catchers Inn’ just over the main road and the ‘Foresters Arms’ just a stagger away. There are some very nice restaurants in Brockenhurst, namely ‘Il Palio 2’ (Italian) in the old station hall and ‘Le Blairaeus’ (french) near Carey’s Manor on the A337. For cycle activities there is a cycle hire shop called ‘Cycle Experience’ in the triangle near the station. This is a good place to hire bikes for an easier way to get into the depths of the New Forest. ~Lymington~ Not really in the New Forest, Lymington is a further 5 miles south on the A337 from Brockenhurst. It is more of a marina town with facilities for yachts and a ferry to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. It has a good range of shops including a ‘Boots’ chemist and would be the best area if you need to do a bit of shopping. There is a market on the High Street each Saturday so try to avoid driving through the middle of Lymington on a Saturday morning. It also has a range of antique and art shops and the obligatory tacky souvenir shops can be found down the cobbled street to the quay front. ‘The Ship Inn’ down on the front is quite nice as you can get a pint and watch the world going by. ~New Milton and Sway~ Again not strictly in the New Forest New Milton and Sway are a few miles west of Lymington on the road to Bournemouth. It is a good area for pubs, restaurants and places to stay. New Milton has a few shops including a small supermarket and some convenience stores. This is a good area to stay for those more reliant on public transport as Wilts and Dorset buses service the area well. At New Milton you are also within striking distance of the sea and the good beaches along this part of the coast. Sway is a few miles north east of New Milton. It is a much smaller village with a good smattering of country pubs. Try the ‘Hare and Hounds’ on the road to Brockenhurst or ‘The Plough’ near Tiptoe. ~Beaulieu~ This is small village with a lot of history and a sense of regency. It has a small car park and a little street with numerous shops including a café, a chocolate shop, a pub ‘Montagu Arms’ and even a shop for your dressage needs. The local palace, abbey and motor museum are all located on the estate across the millpond from the village. The stone walled palace and grounds make for impressive viewing across the still water of the millpond. ~Burley~ An another small village located about 8 miles south west of Lyndhurst and reached by the A35. Burley has a busy high street with shops, and the ‘Queens Head’ pub, there are also antique, cycle hire and gift shops all located around the central cross area. ~~Activities~~ Okay now you are in the New Forest you are wondering what activities there are to do. ~Walking~ Walking is the main activity in the New Forest as there is a large amount of woodland and open spaces to explore. There are numerous marked trails and pathways to follow, most of these marked routes are around the Brockenhurst area. I personally have a book by Mike Power called ‘Pub walks in the New Forest’. This is good book if you want to go for a short walk and then have a good pub lunch. Generally anywhere you go in the New Forest is good for walking, however be aware that some areas are boggy and uneven so it is best to have good walking shoes rather than sandals or heeled shoes. Trainers at the very least will get you around the forest in the summer, but hiking boots are better in the winter. ~Cycling~ Cycling is taking over as the means to get around the New Forest easily and quickly. The only downside is that there are rules that you must stick to the gravel pathways and not go anywhere you want. This enforced by the Forestry Commission and is done to reduce the amount of environmental damage that mountain bikes do to the soft ground of the New Forest. There are many gravel pathways around the forest and again most of these are around the Brockenhurst area. The Forestry Commission produce a map for cyclist showing the routes that you can use for you bicycle. Cycle hire shops can be found in Brockenhurst, Burley and a few other centres around the New Forest. ~Horse Riding~ Horse riding is available to those who wish to go riding around the New Forest. There are many commoners who exercise their horses in the forest and you may be walking on a path and suddenly come across some horse riders. I’ve never ridden a horse in my life, but I do know that my father-in-law visited some stables at Burley to go on an organised horse ride. I don’t know the stable’s name so I cannot pass on that information, however I’m sure that the local tourist information centre will be able to tell you more. Alternatively there is a wagon ride available in Brockenhurst. This wagon is pulled by some sturdy horses and takes you on a little trip along a gravelled road and partly into the forest. ~Car Driving~ Not really an activity, but I felt I should mention one tour that is possible for those that have a lack of mobility. There is area of the New Forest that is almost designed to be viewed from the car and is something you could do in any weather. I will describe the tour in full starting at the Brockenhurst. From Brockenhurst drive through the High Street and the water splash (if it’s a dry summer there will be no water) at the T junction on the up ramp of the water splash turn right. Drive along this road and ignore all junctions. You will pass through the tree-lined outskirts of Brockenhurst village, viewing a melange of cottages and houses, finally the road comes on to an open plain. In the summer these plains are great for picnics and flying kites, there is normally at least one ice-cream van in one of the gravel car parks and numerous ponies roaming wild. Continue driving along the road and eventually you go back into a wooded area, this area is Rhinefield enclosure and is made up of pine trees. Keep an eye out on your left, as you will eventually see the grounds of Rhinefield House and the old hunting lodge itself. If you are feeling particularly flush you can stop and have a coffee in the ‘Orangery’, but at weekends it could have a function or wedding taking place. Passing by Rhinefield house you will eventually come to a sharp right hand bend at the drive way to Rhinefield House, follow the bend right and drive on through the slightly narrower road. This part of the drive is called Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and is enclosed by large pine trees and Rhododendron bushes. Continue on until you reach a cross-road, this is the main A35 road and is a little tricky to cross as you need to go straight over the road and on to Bolderwood Ornamental Drive. Instantly you enter a different woodland made up of Deciduous trees, continue on the road until you see a triangular grass area to your right. You have now completed the car tour and can go and get an ice-cream from the van if he is there. By doing this drive you will see the many differing parts of the forest, open spaces, pine trees, old hunting lodges and deciduous trees. Also there are many gravelled car parks for you to stop and view the forest at your leisure. If one car park is busy you can always move onto the next car park. ~Beaulieu Palace and Motor Museum~ It has been many years since I have been to the Motor Museum at Beaulieu, but it is a very good day out for all the family. There is the Motor Museum itself for the petrol heads, the ruins of a monk’s abbey, the palace building and the palace grounds. There is even a monorail to help you get around and stop at any point of interest. If you were to visit I would plan on allowing for a whole day in the museum and the palace grounds. ~Reptiliary~ The New Forest is the home to the only poisonous snake in the United Kingdom, the common adder or viper. The reptiliary can be found about 3 miles west of Lyndhurst on the A35. I have never been, but from what I have heard they have a good collection of snakes common to the New Forest including grass snakes and small lizards. Good if you’re interested in cold-blooded scaly animals. ~Longdown Dairy Farm~ This is one for the young and old alike, Longdown Diary Farm is located about five miles east of Lyndhurst near the A35 to Southampton. Again I’ve never been, but I’m told that under supervision you can feed the young animals and see a farm in action, very good for young children apparently. ~Beaches~ There are good beaches to the south of the forest along the coast to Bournemouth. There are car parks dotted along the coast with paths down to the beach. The beaches are generally clean and vary from gravely beaches to the soft sands at Bournemouth. Milford-on-sea, Highcliffe, Mudeford and Bournemouth are the places to go for the beaches with parking areas and good amenities nearby. Some beaches have a bit of a walk down the cliffs to the beach, but most are well paved and getting pushchairs down to the beach should pose no real problem. ~Footnote~ The New Forest has lots of rules and regulations, but most of them are common sense, like closing any gates you open, don’t drop litter, don’t feed the animal’s etc. One item to remember is that all speed limits in the New Forest are 40 mph and the animals area allowed to roam free. So don’t be surprised if you come around a corner and there is a cow or pony standing still in the road. If you ever visit the New Forest I hope you enjoy the area as much as I like living in it. Thanks for taking the time to read* Martin. *Please note this is also posted at Ciao.co.uk under the same user name. ~~References~~ A list of all the websites and pages I’ve found on the Wicked Wild Web and referred to in writing this review. ~Map~ http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/NewForestcycle.pdf/$FILE/NewForestcycle.pdf ~History~ http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/ http://www.new-forest-uk.co.uk/history.htm ~Transportation~ http://www.flybournemouth.com/ http://www.baa.com/main/airports/southampton/ http://www.nationalrail.co.uk http://www.wdbus.co.uk/ http://www.solentblueline.com/index2.htm http://www.nationalexpress.com/ http://www.romanse.org.uk/ ~Accomodation~ http://www.balmerlawnhotel.co.uk http://www.handpicked.co.uk/RhineFieldHouse/RhineFieldHouse.php http://www.chewtonglen.com/ http://www.buskettslawnhotel.co.uk/ http://www.carehotels.co.uk/ http://www.hampshire-bed-breakfast-bb.co.uk/ ~Camping~ http://www.forestry.gov.uk/ http://www.sandy-balls.co.uk/ http://www.redshoot-campingpark.co.uk/ ~Book~ Power, Mike – Pub Walks in the New Forest

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                    17.11.2002 02:57
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                    Situated in the New Forest is Breamore House which overlooks the Avon valley & was once the property of Elizabeth the 1st until she sold the estate. I have cycled to Breamore village & the house from Salisbury. Breamore has one post office & thatched cottages. The entry takes you up to a courtyard where you can padlock up bikes by the fence of the teashop. There is a small tearoom at Breamore house which has a mixed menu; there is also a option of whether you can sit in or outside. Breamore House has various events like the classic car show or craft shows, there is also a plant stall. There is the Countryside Museum which displays rustic life, there is displays of heavy horse harnesses & brasses & all the fords and workshop?s which helped a village survive in the last century. Up a path is an ancient church, & the miz-maze which is a bit of a walk. The actual house is worth a visit, including the large kitchen with an old fashioned aga oven which takes 2-3hrs to heat up. You can open the door to peer inside of it. There is a compilation of carriages housed in the stable block. Breamore House is open in April on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, open in May, June, July and September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, open in august every day. Opening hours are: Museum open 1.pm - 5.30pm & house 2pm - 5.30pm, last.

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                    14.08.2001 18:33
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                    I am not long back form a lovely honeymoon in the New Forest - the perfect place for a quiet, romantic escape from the world. Did you know, by the way, that the origin of honeymoon is an old fertility practise in which newlyweds would share a glass of mead (honey wine) for a month (moon) after marriage! We have been doing this. The New Forest is largely in Hampshire and Dorset. The reason it is "New" is that, although like most of britain it would originally have been forested, it was turned into farmland, and later turned back into forest to be used as a royal hunting ground - for this to happen, all the local people were moved from their land. We stayed in Alderholt Mill near Fordingbridge - a lovely area whre most houses have thatched rooves. Fordingbridge is on the Avon and is a very sweet little town. We walked in the forest throughout the week, and there are several spots I can recomend. Bolder's wood - good car park, toilets, marked walks that are suitable for wheelchairs or pushcahirs, and a deer reserve. We saw many deer including a most impressive white stag. There aren't many places to park around Ringwood, bt the walks are nice from there. I would strongly recomend buying an ordenance survey map which will help you find such excellent places as the Knightsbridge oak, the reptillary, barrows, dikes and stones. It's an area rich in history and there is a great deal to see. The heathland near Bolder's wood is lovely, and there are some nice walks near Ashurst. The Heavy Horse centre not far from Ringwood is well worth a visit - lots of shire horses, ponies, ducks, donkeys and the like - a nice afternoon out if you like aimals, or have children who do. Many of the residents are only too happy to be petted and fussed. Costs about 5 pounds for an adult, but it's a good cause. The New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Conservation park is a must. You can see all of the above plus red squir rels, polecats, pine martins, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, fieldmice, a lynx, wallabies, deer, mink, wildcats and more. Feeding times are regular throughout the day and include talks about the animals. Avoid if you are squeamish - day old chicks are often fed to the animals and some children may be upset by this. The park is excellent - well laid out, easy to get around, lots to see and you can spend three or four hours there easily. It costs about six pounds for an adult. Walking in the new Forest:there are plenty of well marked and well mainained walks in the forest, so if you aren't much of a walker, potter round a few of these, they are really nice and you won't need maps or boots. For the more adventurous, an ordinance survey map will set you off nicely, but be prepaired for logging trails that aren't on the maps, streams that change courses, and marshy bits. If you are walking on heathland, be especially carefull as there are swampy bits. Driving - taking the car out is not unusual for holidaymakers, but please, please be careful. Not only are there rabbits and squirrels by the roadside, but also deer, ponnies, foxes, badgers and birds. If you drive rapidly you could well hit and kill a wild creature. Please drive slowly. Sadly, many people don't and the sides of roads are littered with the bodies of dead animals. The ponnies will wander along the roads, some drivers harass them dreadfully, but if you are patient they will let you pass. Cycling - there are places you can hire bikes from and plenty of routes. Be warned though, as there are also lots of places you are requested not to go as cycling can churn up the paths rather. Some areas can get rather touristy - people sitting about in deckchairs as though they were by the sea and that sort of thing. Be assured that you can get away from the hordes very easily - we had a quiet time even in August. It's a big place and you can find a queit place or two i n it, that's certain. Something to be warned about - many areas of the forest are planted with conifers as a cash crop. In these areas there is little other wildlife, and little to see. it is gloomy and not much fun to walk in. Check carefully before you walk - if an area is cled a plantation, you probably want to avoid it. The deciduous woods are lovely and rich with wildlife. sadly, the cash crops are needed to pay for the upkeep of everything else. Other things you can do - lots of places to fish, lots of towns to visit if the weather is bad. Horse riding and pony trekking. Museums, animal sanctuaries, pubs. For larger towns and urban tourism, Southampton is close by. You can also get to the Isle of Wight and the Dorset coast if you are prepaired to travel a bit. A great place for a quiet holiday, we had a lovely time there and I would recomend it for anyone who likes to walk.

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                      19.09.2000 02:53

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                      The New Forest occupies the S.W. corner of Hampshire between Southampton water and the Avon. Today the forest is 93000 acres, but most of it is managed by the Forestry Commision, of which 45,000 is for ponies and cattle to graze, and the rest is woodland, villages and farms. It's open waste is now the biggest stretch of semi-natural vegetation in lowland Britain. The woods are mainly deciduous trees mostly oak, beech and holly, and most of them are rich in wildlife, deers, badgers, and foxes live there as do breeding birds such as, crossbills, goldcrests, and firecrests but most of all the New Forest ponies live there. If you visit you will find many car parks and picnic areas are crowded especially in the summer. Many trails and gravel tracks are open without restriction to walkers. If you want to camp there you have to obtain permission from The Forestry Commision.

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                      05.09.2000 16:46
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                      I have recently returned from a short break with my husband in the New Forest. This is an area of England that I have only visited previously as a child. Located just north west of Southampton, its the largest area of wildland in England, containing ancient forest, heathland, and some wonderful little villages. We camped at 'Hollands Wood' campsite, which is run by the forestry commission. Details of the campsite can be got from the tourist centre at Lyndhurst. Located just 15 minutes walk from the village of Brockenhurst, we really were in the middle of nowhere. The campsite had good basic facilities - showers, water, and a small shop. Its a large place (600 plots) so you only have to book at the busy times. The village of Brockenhurst was like stepping back in time. This must surely be one of the only villages in England to have a butchers, bakers, fishmongers, greengrocer and a post office! The many problems suffered by rural business don't seem to have affected this part of the world - possibly because it is in the new forest, the big supermarkets cannot build their monstrosities anywhere. We spent our first day by popping over the Solent from Lymmington to the Isle of Wight (www.wightlink.co.uk -about 7ukp a head for foot passengers). We had lunch at a pub in Yarmouth, and walked it off by heading up to the Needles. Yarmouth is a very nice little seaside town. It seems unafflicted by the kiss-me-quick trade, and has lots of lovely little streets, like many other fishing towns in England. The Needles a strange place. There are three lumps of rock protruding out to sea, and a lighthouse to warn ships. You walk up the cliff above the sea, to get a view from above. In the cliff are many fortifications, dating from Napoleonic times, to the second world war. The Isle of Wight was obviously of strategic importance. In addition, there are the remnants of rocket launch platforms! This is where the British Space program tested their rockets, before sending them to Australia to the launched. How they got the rockets across the Solent I have no idea! This was a great day out, and I think the Isle of Wight is worth a trip over the Solent while you are visiting the New Forest area. The next day we decided to go walking. We bought a book of walks, and an Ordance Survey map of the area, all from the Lyndhurst visitors centre. We then proceded to pick up some food for a picnic, and set off. We walked about 6 miles, around Lyndhurst, including a nature reserve and the Lymmington river. On the entire walk, which we took several hours over, we only saw three other people, except when we stopped for refreshment at a pub en route! I really felt we had managed to escape the rat race for a few hours. I cannot describe how wonderful it was. It was also good to finish and rest our feet! We finished our day with a barbecue back at the campsite, followed by a few beers down at the pub in Brockenhurst. Finally, walking back we saw the most wonderful sky. It was clear, and there was so little light pollution the sky was unlike any I've ever seen. I could have looked at it for hours. And we saw some shooting stars. This must be my perfect day. And then we headed for home. We stopped off at Winchester on the way, which seemed like civilisation again after our time in the New Forest. I just want to go back.

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