I had the supreme delight of visiting the New Forest at the end of September. What a magical place! It’s not quite as wild as some of the forests I’ve hiked around in New York, but it is filled with quiet beauty, verdant life and ponies at every turn. What’s not to love?
The man and I rented a car and went down for a long weekend (side note: I drove on the left for the first time – SO PROUD!). We stayed at an AirBnB in Brockenhurst, which I can highly recommend. The house was decorated in calm colours like pale teal. They had delightful accents like one wall in a wallpaper that had a delicate gold pattern or this geometric pattern painted on the stairs.
Our host was an old salt who used to be a professional sailor. He also ran a chandlery until retiring to run his AirBnB. He was delighted when he found out we were both sailors as well and gave us loads of great advice on how to best explore the area on our short visit.
A breakfast was also included in our stay. Wow. It was so delicious! Local produce and eggs from their very own chickens in the backyard!
After rolling ourselves away from the table, we walked over to the local bike rental place at the train station and rented two bikes for the day. We pedaled down the town’s streets searching for the entrance to the New Forest. It wasn’t long before we began spotting ponies, just hanging out.
This one was waiting for the bus.
I’ve ridden horses all my life, but haven’t seen them much since moving to London. I got such a kick out of seeing the ponies just lounging around wherever they pleased.
Luckily, I have a very patient boyfriend and he totally indulged me as I took about a million photos of ponies. Soon enough we were on our way and I was indulging him oo-ing and ah-ing over the local houses. Well, ok, they are quite charming.
The ponies are truly everywhere. And they don’t seem to mind sharing the forest with each other and everyone else.
We saw lots of beautiful plants and wild berries.
The things that grow in the forest and really astounding. Check out this beautiful lichen.
The ponies and other animals do a good job of clearing out the grass in the forest. Because everything is so trim, it gives the forest the odd appearance of being very manicured. At the same time, you are very aware you are in the middle of a very old forest. I was very impressed with the size of the trees.
We were also delighted by the fairy-tale ambiance. It would not have seemed out of place for someone in a velvet dress with bell sleeves to appear from behind a tree…
Or to see hooves splashing through a stream…
Or watch a line of wizards wind their way through a grove of standing dead…
The plants and terrain of the forest are quite varied and we enjoyed biking through several different parts. It took us about 6 hours to bike around, go to a pub in Bank, and then come back another way. On the way there, we rode past a field of heather.
And tall forests
There are also parts of the forest that they are farming for lumber. We quite liked this sign which warns about climbing on log piles. The graphic is great, but can you make out the text below?
It says, “we apologize for any inconvenience.” HA!
Riding on a bike in a forest along side your man en route to a pub on the most perfectly warm day. Does life get any better?
We had a great pub lunch which included honey comb ice cream made in Hampshire County (recommended!). On the way back, we paused in a big open meadow where a few ponies were mingled with some pigs!
We also passed a beautiful, enormous tree with low branches.
There was a smooth spot rubbed into the lowest branch where it was clear everyone climbed on. We couldn’t resist and climbed up as well.
We biked back to Brockenhurst and returned our bikes. We thought Lymington would be worth checking out too, so we drove down and parked at a marina. There was a mini boat show going on and we walked amongst the yachts for sale that were on the hard, day dreaming about buying one.
There’s a long walking trail in Lymington all along the coast for several miles and it conveniently picks up at the marina. We walked a little ways along the trail. It was low tide, so there was a lot of mud, but it was still very pretty.
And it gave us a beautiful sunset.
A lovely trip to the New Forest indeed! I hope I will get to go back soon and bike around to some of the parts we did not explore.