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  • Writer's pictureIna

Explore the Natural Wonders of New Forest: Top 5 Sights to Visit

Updated: Jun 26

The New Forest, located in southern England, is a captivating blend of ancient woodland, heathland, and picturesque villages, offering visitors a serene escape into nature. Outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, or anyone looking for a tranquil getaway will fall in love with New Forest. Why? Because the place is like a portal to an infinity of worlds and galaxies, one more fascinating than the other.


In this blog post, we'll delve into my top five sights to visit: Lyndhurst, Furzey Gardens, Blackwater Arboretum, Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, and Bolton's Bench.

First things first:

  • Accommodation: we stayed at Ormonde House Hotel, just outside the village, but since Lyndhurst is charmingly compact, this means a 5-minute walk from the high street. Super cozy, and ultra epicentric to easily travel in all directions.

  • Dining: if you're on a budget, there's a handy CO-OP and a Tesco Express. If you're feeling fancy, I'd recommend the Italian restaurant La Pergola (near the Ormonde House Hotel) or The Stag (pub).

Now, what should you add to your itinerary? Here are my top 5 recommendations:


1. Lyndhurst Village: The Heart of New Forest


Lyndhurst, often referred to as the capital of the New Forest, is a charming village that is an excellent starting point for exploring the area. Rich in history and brimming with quaint shops and cafes, Lyndhurst offers a delightful mix of attractions.

  • New Forest Museum and Visitor Centre: Begin your visit at the New Forest Museum, where you can learn about the area's unique history, wildlife, and conservation efforts. The interactive exhibits are perfect for all ages.

  • St. Michael and All Angels Church: This beautiful church, with its striking stained glass windows and historical significance, is a must-see. Look out for the grave of Alice Liddell, who inspired Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland."

  • Local Shops and Cafes: Stroll through the village and explore the independent boutiques, traditional tearooms, and cozy pubs. Don't forget to try a classic cream tea!


2. Furzey Gardens: A Hidden Gem of Tranquility (with Alpacas!)


Nestled in the heart of the New Forest, Furzey Gardens is a magical 10-acre garden that captivates visitors with its vibrant colors and serene atmosphere.

  • Floral Displays: Wander through beautifully landscaped gardens featuring a diverse collection of plants, from vibrant rhododendrons and azaleas to rare and exotic species. Each season brings its unique charm, with spring and summer being particularly spectacular.

  • Fairy Doors and Sculptures: Furzey Gardens is famous for its enchanting fairy doors and whimsical sculptures hidden throughout the grounds. Children and adults alike will enjoy the sense of wonder and discovery.

  • Historic Cottage: Visit the historic thatched cottage within the gardens, offering a glimpse into traditional New Forest life. The cottage also hosts a tearoom where you can enjoy refreshments in a picturesque setting.

Tip: don't miss the resident Alpacas, usually living their best life in the most beautiful meadow I've ever seen (and I've seen a few, trust me). They're pretty chill, so make sure not to get too close (or they might spit you in defense) and be respectful of their fluffy personal space.

3. Blackwater Arboretum: A Woodland Wonderland


If you love trees and woodland walks, Blackwater Arboretum is a must-visit destination in the New Forest.

  • Tree Trails: The arboretum features several trails that take you through a variety of native and exotic tree species. The Tall Trees Trail is particularly popular, showcasing majestic redwoods and Douglas firs.

  • Seasonal Beauty: Each season offers a unique experience at Blackwater Arboretum. In spring, the forest floor is carpeted with bluebells, while autumn brings a riot of color with the changing leaves.

  • Picnic Spots: Enjoy a leisurely picnic surrounded by the tranquility of the forest. There are plenty of picnic tables and open spaces to relax and soak in the natural beauty.

4. Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary: A Wildlife Enthusiast’s Paradise


Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is a highlight for wildlife lovers, offering the chance to see deer up close in their natural habitat.

  • Deer Viewing Platform: The sanctuary features a specially constructed platform where visitors can observe herds of fallow deer. Feeding time, typically in the afternoon, is the best time to visit for guaranteed sightings.

  • Scenic Walks: Explore the numerous walking trails that wind through ancient woodland and open glades. These trails vary in length and difficulty, catering to all levels of hikers.

  • Informative Displays: Learn about the deer and the surrounding ecosystem through informative displays located near the viewing platform. The sanctuary is managed with conservation in mind, ensuring the protection of the deer and their habitat.

5. Bolton’s Bench: Stunning Panoramic Views (with Ponies and Cows)

Situated on the eastern edge of Lyndhurst, Bolton’s Bench is more than just a scenic hill; it’s a place where history, nature, and local culture converge.


  • Historical Significance: Bolton’s Bench is steeped in history and folklore. The mound is named after Sir William de Bolton, a knight who is said to have fought in the Crusades. Local legend has it that the bench atop the mound marks his grave, adding a layer of mystique to this scenic spot.

  • Stunning Beauty: Bolton’s Bench provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The open grassy area is dotted with ancient yew trees, and on a clear day, you can see miles of unspoiled natural beauty. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely picnic or a quiet moment of reflection.

  • New Forest Ponies: One of the unique attractions of Bolton’s Bench is the presence of New Forest ponies. These charming creatures roam freely, often grazing peacefully on the hill. Watching the ponies in their natural habitat is a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.

Conclusion

The New Forest is a natural beauty, history, and wildlife treasure trove. Lyndhurst, Furzey Gardens, Blackwater Arboretum, and Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary each offer unique experiences that highlight the diverse charm of this remarkable region. Whether seeking a peaceful retreat or an adventurous exploration, the New Forest provides an unforgettable escape into one of England's most beloved landscapes. Plan your visit today and discover the magic of the New Forest for yourself.


 *All photos were taken by Ina/WithinLondon, unless stated otherwise :)

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