There is something magical about choosing to have a staycation and the weather working in your favour. Royal wedding weekend we chose to go to one of the most quintessentially English places – the New Forest – for a weekend of walks, fresh air and seaside, with a bit of afternoon tea thrown in.
The only issue with travelling in England is the cost. We have a 2together railcard, but that didn’t stop the price of the trains, even when booked in advance nearing £60 return, and we just wouldn’t have it. Luck would have it, however, that both of us had the day off on the Friday so we could drive down in the afternoon, and avoid the traffic instead.
We arrived Friday afternoon, checked into the beautiful beautiful Huntsman of Brockenhurst and immediately set out on a walk. Now, without a map and without wanting to pay for some fun apps that would have taken us on a great walk, we downloaded some instructions from New Forest Explorers that included a pub along the way and was about 10km. Perfect timing to be back at the Hunstman for dinner. Well, if you have a look at the details of that walk, it is more of a poetic riddle of where to go than a map, so it turned into a bit of an adventure. But it was the most beautiful, serene, and exciting adventure nonetheless…and most importantly we found our way. The one time we did pass any other human life along the way was when we stopped in to the Filly Inn, a pub mentioned in the walk…unfortunately having left everything in our room and the card machine in the pub being down, we didn’t manage to stop for the drink and crisps that we imagined we would! Rather than explain the beauty of the different terrain, the wild nature and animals, and the beautiful sunsets, we’ll leave you with a photo essay. Trip continues below.
Tired and extremely hungry, we had a quick clean and went for dinner in the place we were staying. We normally tend to push the boat out and explore more, but the recommendations and reviews we had read of the Huntsman’s food were second to none in the area so we thought we would give it a go. Boy are we glad we did! Firstly, the whole place is decorated exquisitely. The millennial’s dream. Geometric shapes, industrialised country chic and great lighting levels. Seriously fab. We did splash out and have three courses for dinner, but the food was so fantastic, the wine excellent and the service brilliant that we didn’t mind!
Our evening stay was excellent, beautiful rooms, comfy beds, and the white company shower luxuries, it was the most relaxing evening we could have asked for. Quiet, perfect temperature and a range of drinking facilities all included. As was breakfast. Breakfast was fabulous. All included in the price, a buffet of continental breakfast, and a choice of cooked breakfasts too, even though we weren’t overly hungry after our rich dinner, we still managed a bit of both (well we had to make up for the energy exploring the New Forest right?).
After breakfast, so distracted we were by the Royal Wedding (both of us swore we weren’t interested before we left for the trip), we almost missed check out time, but we made it and decided to drive down into Lymington, to check out where Jess had spent a lot of her childhood holidays, and to see if we could find somewhere to watch the rest of the wedding.
Wasn’t the wedding glorious? Even if you aren’t a royalist it was a sight to behold. We managed to find a hotel showing the wedding on a big screen and had a coffee to go with it. We were torn between wanting to watch more and wanting to use the beautiful weather and chance to escape ad explore, but we watched the gospel choir, the brilliant American priest and “I-dos” and then made our leave.
We wondered through Lymington – a beautiful port town, and it was market day. It literally looked like something out of a Visit England postcard it was amazing. We did have one accidental slip up at the market, and bought some amazing cheeses: jalapeño cheddar, firey cheddar and a port infused stilton, you can’t blame us!
We wondered down to the marina, something that was brilliantly old school and yet wonderfully in the present. Watching a group of young boys crabbing, the Isle of Wight ferry leaving in the near distance and seagulls circling over people’s food. As the self-proclaimed king and queen of gelato around the world we so managed to stop for some incredible ice cream made from local cream.
Our final stop in Lymington was to Elmers Court – a hotel and residency right on the Solent. We only popped in to have a look around as it was the place Jess stayed in her holidays. It hadn’t changed one bit, and if you have the money we would definitely recommend it for the surroundings and grounds, it’s epic!
From there we realised we had time before our final stop of the day, so thought that we would head out to Hurst Castle, at Milford on Sea. Turns out, it’s a really, really long walk from the car park and was far too long for us to fit in. But it is spectacular. Even the beach leading to it is amazing for a walk down, and we were fortunate (?) enough to watch a boat race too. We managed to see Hurst Castle from a distance, but spent time reading about it even though we didn’t manage to get in! It was built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses and was completed in 1544, to defend the Solent and England, after him it was used as residence and defence, and in 1648 Charles I was imprisoned there before being taken to London to his trial and execution. During the Napoleonic wars the castle was made bigger to house huge 38-ton guns (installed in the 1870’s) and during World War II it was again used as defence – manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights.
From the castle, we then went to New Park Manor back in Brockenhurst. Jess turned 30 this year (shocking!) and one of her beautiful friends bought us an afternoon tea, and we thought what better time and place then the New Forest on Royal Wedding Day, right before the school exam rush!
The setting was lovely, a grand manor house deep in the New Forest, and an afternoon tea to die for. Simply delicious. There was so much food that we couldn’t finish it all and the service was impeccable. Although we could definitely have done with a sleep after, we had a 2 hour drive home listening to the FA Cup final to see the cat!
There is no doubt that we will go back and visit, the beautiful setting and proximity to home is amazing. We definitely have to go and have some more staycations, is there anywhere you would recommend we look into next?