English hotels will be opening their doors to guests on July 4th. Safeguards against COVID-19 are in place and at last a summer holiday is possible. And there are many lovely places to explore in England. The magical New Forest has an interesting variety of attractions to delight its visitors.
The New Forest in Hampshire, England
Today, the New Forest is a National Park that covers a large area of forest, heathland and coastline. Nine hundred years ago William 1 of England established his royal hunting grounds here. Since then a wealth of laws and customs has evolved. Ancient grazing rights granted to parcels of land are still upheld here. Ponies, donkeys, sheep, cattle and deer all graze freely throughout the forest. Pigs are only allowed out in the autumn to feed on the acorns. These rights and the park bye-laws are enforced today by the Verderers Court in the small town of Lyndhurst.
Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire in England
Lyndhurst is central to all the activities in the New Forest as befits its legacy as King William’s favourite place when he came to the forest to hunt. The seventeenth century Queens House reflects its royal heritage. This building houses the Verderers Hall where the Verderers Court sits. This court enforces the ancient rights of Commoning which include the right to graze animals and collect fuel.
Water-based activities are popular in the coastal town of Lymington, not far from Lyndhurst.
Lymington in the New Forest, Hampshire in England
The boat-building Georgian market town of Lymington stretches along a coastline that embraces a wide river estuary fringed by salt marshes. It is also home to the oldest open air sea water baths in the UK. Every Saturday there is a large market filling the wide High Street that was built for this purpose.
On the other side of Lyndhurst, right in the heart of the forest is the pretty town of Brockenhurst.
Brockenhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire in England
Herds of ponies and cows wander nonchalantly through the streets of Brockenhurst. They know they have the right to be here. The forest surrounds this small town so it is an ideal base for keen cyclists and walkers. The curious Snake Catcher Pub (thereby hangs a tale) is a popular venue for a cooling beer.
Where to Stay in the New Forest
Balmer Lawn Hotel on the outskirts of Brockenhurst is conveniently situated for excursions into the surrounding forest or a bus ride to nearby towns and villages. It has several outdoor terraces and cosy lounges so it can safely cater for parties of all sizes. I can personally recommend its Beresford’s Restaurant where I enjoyed one of the best meals I have ever eaten.