The magic of Burley

At the end of the month we can expect much excitement as all hallows eve falls upon us once again, but for one particular Hampshire village, this is something they can celebrate all year round, Elizabeth Barnett investigates

Nestled on a lea in the heart of the New Forest, the Bronze Age village of Burley is far from the sleepy village scene that so many expect. Burley is a hive of activity, especially during October when its spooky past and magical connections come to life. During the late 1950s a white witch named Sybill Leek resided in the area after separating from the New Forest gypsies. She was often seen wandering through the village with a long black cloak and a jackdaw on her shoulder, causing local villagers to assume she was up to no good. Sadly, she succumbed to their speculation and moved to America but since her departure the village has become a shrine to witchcraft and wizardry, with shops such as the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the Covern of Witches lining the high street.But Burley's colourful past doesn't end there. During the 18th and 19th centuries, smuggling was a lucrative business. The Queens Head pub in the heart of the village dates back to the 16th century and during renovation a hidden cellar, believed to be a hideaway for smugglers and highwaymen, was found to be full of pistols, bottles and coins. Much of the village remains unchanged with many of the original features such as the winding lanes and quaint cottages making it easy to imagine how life would have been like throughout Burley's past. Thomas Eyre, steward of Burley Manor erected small milestones and markers that can still be seen in and around the village today, one of which lies opposite the Queens Head and reads 'Rest and be Thankful' - an anecdote that can still be obeyed today.

Ice, ice BurleyVanessa Batchelor has been running the Magpies Nest and Burley Ice Cream Parlour since her parents' retirement six year ago. After spending many happy holidays in Burley the family decided to move to the area 25 years ago to invest in their own small piece of the village. Her mother Faria had a great passion for antiques and together with her husband they developed and improved the business with Vanessa acting as sole ice cream creator. Ice cream and the New Forest go hand-in-hand and since buying the business from her parents, Vanessa's enticing collection of ingredients has attracted visitors from far and wide: "We started selling the ice cream during the summer season but so many of our regulars kept coming throughout the winter months that we decided to run the parlour the whole year through."Working in one of the most popular areas in the New Forest, Vanessa is able to personally welcome visitors to Hampshire: "This year it has been busier than any other, I think, since the recession, families are staying in the UK for their summer holiday and places like Hampshire and the New Forest are ideal locations for a summer full of activities and fun."

Music makerAmanda Elliott has been the proud owner of Face the Music since March 2002. Like Vanessa she first visited Burley on holiday after her family purchased a cottage there. She fell in love with the area and decided to relocate with her daughter to Hampshire from north London to follow her dreams of owning a gift shop in the village that had given her so many happy memories. Amanda's passion for music has influenced her business from the beginning. While touring the local trade fairs, she realised that there could be a market for music related gifts: "There are already several successful gift shops in Burley so I knew that a tourist market would be available." But unlike many of the other stores, Face the Music offers a vast collection for a niche market. Along with her online store, Amanda is able to manage trade throughout the whole year, but is particularly busy during the summer period when the holidaymakers flood in. "Burley is a beautiful place to work, owning a gift shop enables me to meet so many people, some that are visiting on holiday and others that live in the area."Which is witch?Burley is famous for once having its own white which - but did you know:• Witchcraft means 'craft of the wise ones'. In early times a witch could be the local lawyer, psychiatrist and doctor.• Witches believe in 'three-fold law', which states whatever you do (good or evil) it comes back to you three times over.• Contrary to belief witches don't believe in or worship Satan.• A male witch is not a 'warlock', he is simply a witch.• The pentagram (a five-pointed star in an upright, one-point-up position) is the symbol of the witch's religion and symbolises 'the creator' being above the four elements of life: air, fire, water and earth.The best of BurleyTake a tourBurley Wagon Rides offer a unique opportunity to see the village and surrounding forest by horse and cart. Keep an eye out for the local herds of red deer and of course, the New Forest ponies. Prices start from �3 per child and �5 per adult. Tel. 07786 371843Find some wheelsForest Leisure Cycling is situated right in the heart of Burley and is a great place to start if you want to explore on two wheels. They offer some fantastic routes for all abilities and are a great help when planning out your trip to the New Forest. Cycles come in all ranges and styles; you can even try a tandem! Prices start from �6 per child and �11per adult. Tel. 01425 403584Local produceOn the first Sunday of every month Burley plays host to the farmers market where you can find a vast array of local produce such as fruit and vegetables, meats and delis and homemade cakes. The market is situated at the back of the Queen's Head Pub and is easily accessible through the car park.Tee offf you are looking for something to do to while away an afternoon why not head over to Burley Golf Club and play a couple of holes? The panoramic views over the heath land are breath taking and as long as you don't mind the odd hoofed visitor, it is the perfect way to experience Burley's remote location. Weekend fees from �20 per day, non-members welcome. Tel. 01425 402431Tea for twoThe Black Cat Tea Rooms and Antiques is the perfect place to rest your walking boots after a day in the Forest. Homemade sandwiches and cakes are the highlight of this hidden gem and on a sunny day it's lovely to sit outside and watch the hoards of visitors that enjoy Burley every year. Tel. 01425 404110