Wild, Wild Horses
Take a drive along the meandering, narrow country lanes in New Forest National Park and no doubt you’ll encounter a group of wild ponies, or better still, donkeys with foals in tow, holding up traffic as they leisurely lead the way. The wilderness here requires a slower pace of living. It’s a place of peace and quiet, serenity and freedom — for both wildlife and people.
This forested national park and mostly low-lying land — once the hunting grounds of royals — is a lush patchwork of woodlands, wetlands, and vast heathlands, home to an array of wild animals, from ponies, deer, and cattle to nose-pierced pigs during the autumn months. It’s a nature haven and to really appreciate the true unspoiled beauty of the vast open space, it’s best explored on foot or by bike.
Quaint towns, including Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst, both with a variety of bistros, tea rooms, and independent shops, are perfect for country strolls, and the seaside town of Lymington is a popular yachting center with three marinas and a traditional street market on Saturdays.
Must-Do: The wild ponies that roam free amidst the heathlands lend to the New Forest’s quintessential charm. Hang out with horses and witness the woodland wilderness during an exciting forest hack at Coombe Stables. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced rider, there are trusty horses to suit all abilities — and you can get that little bit closer to nature by spending time with these intuitive, intelligent animals.
Eat: Enjoy an elegant twist on classic pub fare — not to mention a collection of tempting craft cocktails — at The Angel & Blue Pig. Situated close to the harbor in Lymington, it’s perfectly located to accommodate after-dinner strolls. For an elegant twist, pair your meal with a seasonally crafted cocktail. Or, for a special occasion, reserve a table at Lanes of Lymington Restaurant & Bar, a converted church and school, with cozy alcoves perfect for a romantic meal with your loved one. Dishes vary from baked avocado to fillet of seabass.
Day-Trip: Experience the coastal scenery from the water and on a paddleboard with The New Forest Paddle Sport Company. There are a variety of stand-up paddleboard adventures catering to all abilities, ranging from introductory sessions for first-timers to the Hurst Castle or West Solent tours. For a special treat, opt for the post-paddleboard sunset picnic or the moonlight experience. Kayaking, dinghy sailing, and wingsurfing are also available.