Just 90-minutes outside of London, the New Forest National Park is a beautiful and tranquil protected forest where visitors can get in touch with nature. Famous for its ponies, ancient woodland trails, and medieval market towns, this is one of England’s most charming and endearing regions. The number of great towns, trails and attractions on offer within the park makes it impossible to explore in just one day. It takes at least 2-3 days to really take in the beauty here, and there are a number of hotels in the New Forest National Park that offer clean and comfortable accommodation with numerous amenities. On your next trip to this lovely corner of England, do not miss these five attractions located within New Forest:
Lyndhurst may be considered the unofficial capital of New Forest, but Beaulieu actually has more to offer in terms of attractions. Voted the best large visitor attraction for 2013 by VisitEngland, the site is famously home to the National Motor Museum, as well as a beautiful 13th-century palace house with adjoining gardens.
Motoring enthusiasts will instantly fall in love with the National Motor Museum, which houses over 250 automobiles that together weave the story of motoring in Britain. This museum has everything from F1 cars, to the real Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Donald Campbell’s Bluebird. Beaulieu is also proudly home to the World of Top Gear, which houses many of the crazy cars that have been used throughout the show’s history.
Next to the Motor Museum is the stunning Beaulieu Palace House, which dates back to the 13th century. Acquired by the Montagu family in the 16th century, the magnificent home is still owned by the Lord of Montagu and contains many family treasures collected over the centuries.
2. Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway – Near Beaulieu
Exbury Gardens is located just down the road of Beaulieu, in a quiet corner of New Forest. The 200-acre award-winning garden is owned by the London branch of the Rothschild family, and is full of beautiful flowering plants, such as rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. Along with 20 miles of pathway that wind all the way to Beaulieu River, the grounds also feature a historic steam railway. Steam trains still operate three separate routes around the gardens, with a round trip journey taking around 20 minutes. Along the way, keep a lookout for the many deer, rabbits, squirrels, and foxes who call the gardens home.
3. Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary – Lyndhurst
Deep within New Forest is an old coach route that goes from Lyndhurst to Bolderwood. At the end of the trail, the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is your best bet for viewing the forest’s famous fallow deer. There is a large viewing platform here where it is often possible to observe the resident deer herd, as well as several marked trails that take you through ancient woodlands, picnic sites, and beautiful meadows.
4. The Solent Way Walk – Lymington
The southern border of New Forest stretches all the way down to the sea at the wonderful town of Lymington. The Georgian market town lays claim to a scenic stretch of the Solent Way, which is a 60-mile walking and cycling path along the Hampshire Coastline. At Lymington, the green grass along the beach contrasts beautifully against the deep blue of the see, and provides a perfect backdrop for bird watching. Several species of curlews, egrets, sandpipers and gulls all frequent the area, and are quite easy to spot. In town, you’ll have a wide selection of boutique shops at your disposal just off the walking path, as well as lovely seaside pubs and teahouses.
5. New Forest Museum – Lyndhurst
The New Forest Museum in Lyndhurst is an informative place where you can learn all about the history of this fascinating region. Created in 1079 by William the Conqueror as hunting grounds, New Forest has seen many significant historical events over the past thousand years and its story continues to grow. Visitors to the museum will gain insight into what makes this ancient woodland so unique, how the New Forest Pony came about, and how people have lived in this area for thousands of years.