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A WEEKEND IN NEW FOREST Where Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away

A Broad In London Exploring The New Forest

Ever bored with London? Ok, that is a trick question. But sometimes you need a get away. Turn down the volume, unplug, breathe fresh air and exhale. New Forest is just the wonderful escape to do just that. Just a two hour drive south of the hustle and bustle of London where the only traffic you are likely to hit are a herd of wild horses taking their own sweet time crossing the street.  

TWO WILD SILVER HORSES. NEW FOREST UK.JPG

Wild ponies, cattle, deer, pigs and donkeys all roam the village streets and forest, unfazed by the people or cars. It truly felt like I was a million miles from London yet in reality only 89 minutes by train from Waterloo Station. New Forest is also home to the largest trees in Britain. In fact the trees were used as inspiration and actual moulds for The Dark Forest in the Harry Potter movies (learned that on my Harry Potter Studio Tour, don't you know).

Giant Trees In New Forest.

I spent two days walking and exploring nature's idyllic playground not even coming close to seeing all 219 square miles of its beauty. There are many villages dotted around the area, and several small towns in the Forest and around its edges. What I was struck by was the variety of topography, vegetation, wildlife and scenery I came across.  Forest’s glades, ancient woodland, open moors, heathland, river-valleys, coastline and cliff top walks.

Up for a walk with no sidewalks, then read on...

Boy walking across stream.  The New Forest, UK.jpeg

DAY 1 - Beaulieu, Marshland & The Forest

RIVER IN NEW FOREST.

New Forest itself is dominated by three large villages, LyndhurstBrockenhurst and Burley, with several smaller villages such as Beaulieu, Godshill, Blissford, Fritham, Nomansland, Minstead and Sway also lying within or immediately adjacent.

Beaulien River Cruises and Map. New Forest.png

I stayed at a quaInt hotel in the village of Beaulieu, pronounced Buel (as in Ferris Buel-ler) and Lee. "Buel-lee". Never could I have imagined even with my limited high-school French that this is how the English would pronounce this French name. However, I awoke to donkeys outside my door so all was quickly forgiven. 

  This ass is parked in the handicapped zone.

This ass is parked in the handicapped zone.

Once a royal hunting ground for William the Conqueror it is made up of vast tracts of unspoiled woodland, heathland and river valleys. There are 140 miles of walking trails and bike paths  spreading over 193,000 acres. The New Forest website breaks them all down for you in terms of distance, interest, terrain and level of difficulty.. 

Green Forest Path. New Forest, UK.

I started in Beaulieu with its marshes, a quiet river and small fishing port. 

Small harbour in New Forest, UK

There was a Marine Museum in this sleepy, historic port with their mariner history and colourful tour guides dressed in period costumes. Like this lovely chap below. He asked me if his photo would be on Facebook, so I said sure. A promise is a promise. 

Bucklers Hard Story Man. New Forest

THE FOREST, IN NEW FOREST

FOREST WITH TREE BRIDGE. THE NEW FOREST UK.jpeg

The name New Forest (which made me question where is the Old Forest and just how old must it be?) takes its name from the latin "nova foresta", which translates literally as 'new hunting ground'. 

DEEP IN THE NEW FOREST.jpeg
A Broad In London, surrounded by trees in the New Forest, UK..JPG

Within areas of the forest there were some beautiful castles that had been turned into inns and restaurants.  So you can choose to be in the middle of wilderness or stroll from castle to castle. I did both. 

Castles and Inns in New Forest
Beautiful grounds, New Forest, UK
 Yup, a tree hugger. 

Yup, a tree hugger. 

I ended my day at an incredible farm-to-table restaurant/inn called The Pig, in Brockenhurst. Highly recommend that if you are planning a trip to New Forest you make a reservation there. The food and ambiance was amazing. If you can't get a reservation go anyway. They serve an afternoon bar menu and it was great. I then walked the grounds, where they had an very impressive large vegetable garden and greenhouse, hen houses, pig sties and a quail coop. 

  The Pig Restaurant, Brockenhurst. 

The Pig Restaurant, Brockenhurst. 

DAY TWO -  COASTAL WALK, MILFORD-ON-SEA, MOORS AND HEATH

Wide Seascape on Giant Spit. New Forest

NEW FOREST COASTLINE

New Forest Lighthouse and Tugboat

If you prefer coast to countryside and forests there were wonderful walks along the cliff tops at Barton-on-Sea. I walked from Milford-on-Sea to Hurst Castle and took the ferry from Hurst Castle to Keyhaven harbour.  It was a perfect outing and very different in terrain from Day 1 and the giant forest of trees. 

Hurst Ferry Lifesaver. New Forest, UK.
Lighthouse and Keeper. New Forest
Picnicing and fishing in New Forest.jpg

Families set up picnics along the pebble shoreline as people fished over the bridge. It was like an snapshot back in time. Even though the area attracts thousands of visitors each year it is said that is rarely becomes crowded.

Pebbles Pier. New Forest. UK

PONIES...AND DONKEYS...AND COWS, OH MY!

Silver Wild Horse grazing.  New Forest, UK.

When you visit New Forest there are a group of about 3000 locals that you can't but help noticing. They have been hanging around for about 2000 years. I am talking about the wonderful New Forest Ponies, of course. As the ponies have been there way longer than you or I have, they have the right of way in The Forest. Many a animal has been killed or maimed by cars so if you are driving keep your speed down and keep an eye out. It is a offence not to report any accident you had with any of the animals.  Also feeding any of these animals can result in a £200 fine and a possible criminal record. Can you imagine going to jail and they ask you what are you in for and you have to say, "I gave a horse a carrot". 

COWS ROAMING FREE IN THE PASTURES OF NEW FOREST, UK.jpg

I walked the peaceful pastures, moors and meadows. The cows were very nonchalant (as cows can be).  I was told to be extra careful not to get too close with any of the animals that had young ones. The mammas can be very protective (as mammas can be) and have been know to get aggressive if you get too close to their babies. Love the cow to the right. You know she is badass. 

FABULOUS HORNED BULL. NEW FOREST, UK.

The New Forest is also well know for a vast variety of reptiles. Although personally I was delighted with not stumbling upon any grass snakes.  Happy with these "ladies of leisure in the pasture". Although keep an eye out for the "meadow muffins". They are everywhere. 

Cows resting in a floral pasture. New Forest, UK.jpg

And below... wildlife of a more unpredictable nature.

 Wish I had rolled video on this fun group of women from Zimbabwe. Came across them in Beaulieu. They were singing and dancing the whole time, even with the very white man in the background who felt compelled to join in.  

Wish I had rolled video on this fun group of women from Zimbabwe. Came across them in Beaulieu. They were singing and dancing the whole time, even with the very white man in the background who felt compelled to join in.  

I look forward to coming back to New Forest again very soon. I think seeing this place in different seasons would be a gift. In the fall they release hundreds of wild pigs whose job it is just to eat the acorns, which apparently can be poisonous to the other animals. Every one has their place or purpose in the forest and I was just grateful to be able to share it with some incredibly friendly locals. 

Two Wild Horses. New Forest.

It is so true what they say, not all those who wander are lost. 

A Broad In London In The New Forest.