7 of the best ways to enjoy autumn in Lyndhurst
- Credit: Claire Sheppard / Getty Images / iStockphoto
As the mellow fruitfulness of autumn takes hold across the New Forest, what could be better than spending a few days in and around Lyndhurst?
1. Cosy pubs
As the evenings lengthen, resting up at a country inn with a roaring fire takes some beating. The New Forest Inn is in the nearby hamlet of Emery Down and offers 18th-century charm, CAMRA-rated beer and delicious home-cooked fare, much of it locally sourced. You don't need an occasion to call in, because as dogs are welcome it's the perfect pit-stop after a bracing walk.
2. Fungi spotting
Around 2,700 species of fungi are present in the New Forest, making this one of the most productive habitats in Western Europe. Autumn is undoubtedly the best time to spot mushrooms and toadstools, amongst the forest floor and heathland.
One of the most distinctive and most commonly found is the fly agaric with its white stem and bright red, white flecked cap. However, in order to preserve the area's biodiversity, since September 2016 foraging for fungi is prohibited on Crown land. So, now it's a case of 'look' but please don't 'pick'.
3. Soothing spa day
Whatever the weather, there's a sanctuary in the heart of the forest that's sure to wash away the stress of busy lifestyles. The Herb House at Lime Wood Hotel, is dedicated to well-being. Designed over three levels, it has a massive sauna and indoor hydro pool with forest views, a mud house, steaming outdoor hot pool and 10 treatment rooms, including two doubles. Once you're feeling pampered and refreshed, head to the Raw and Cured food bar for healthy eats.
4. Pedal power
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With the New Forest beloved by cyclists, round trips from Lyndhurst by road can take in Buckler's Hard and Lymington if you fancy a trip to the coast. A Lyndhurst circular ride includes Fordingbridge returning via Cadnam.
The off-road trails weaving in all directions from the town are family-friendly so perfect for getting close to the wildlife, or linking up with long-distance national cycle routes (click here for details). As there's free GPS hire available at many cycle hire centres, it's easy to navigate your way around.
5. Stag party
Observing two stags rutting is rare, yet a possibility during autumn. Two of the New Forest's species of deer - the sika and muntjak - are notoriously shy, but roe and red deer are more visible. For an, almost, guaranteed sighting, Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary has a trail and viewing platform above their grazing herd of resident fallow deer. Settle down with a flask and binoculars and your patience may pay off.
6. Twinkle, twinkle
Dark night skies are one of the special qualities of the New Forest, which has several tranquil areas with few houses and street lights that provide good conditions for budding astronomers to see an array of stars and planets and even the Milky Way. Interactive maps for other areas can be found here.
7. Pack a picnic
The New Forest bursts with artisan food and drink producers, so assembling a picnic is a doddle. The Forage Deli in Lyndhurst's High Street is the place to head for, and for a more leisurely visit opens its café for Friday evening acoustic music sessions washed down with local wines. Close by in Minstead, Acres Down Farm Shop is open Tuesday to Saturday and stocks their own reared beef, pork and lamb, as well as free-range eggs and other delights.
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