Things to do in New Milton
- Credit: Emma Caulton
Sunsets and seaside, motorbikes and pony rides, celeb spotting and fossil hunting, New Milton makes an eclectic destination says Emma Caulton
Discover the unexpected
Funny place New Milton. Between New Forest and coast it attracts the gamut: the well-heeled cognoscenti stay at the discreetly glamorous Chewton Glen hotel while families descend on the local holiday parks (such as the Hoburnes - Bashley and Naish), for an old-fashioned seaside break. You’re as likely to spot celebs as find fossils - an unexpected combination. But New Milton is that sort of place. Eclectic!
Fossil hunters are attracted to the cliffs at Barton on Sea (New Milton’s coastal suburb) where the soft Barton clay provides an opportunity to explore a prehistoric marine environment dating back 40 million years.
Celeb spotters may be delighted with the glimpse of the occasional recording artist (the likes of 5 Seconds of Summer and The Tide) taking a break from laying down tracks at The Beach Studios (just up the lane from Chewton Glen) to stroll beside the sea.
Yet others are on the hunt for vintage finds. I have it on good authority from Emma Barcia of Shave Green Interiors that New Milton makes good pickings with some of the best charity shops in the county for browsing. For those of us who don’t have the skill of spotting treasure among cast-offs, there’s a Molly’s Den retro emporium with upcycled, recycled and crafted furniture and clothing in a warehouse on an industrial estate (Queensway, Stem Lane).
There are even more unexpected discoveries. Who would have thought you would find one of the largest motorbike museums in the world in New Milton? The Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum attracts visitors from America to Australia with over 400 racing and road bikes, plus memorabilia and archives. The collection includes Sammy’s own trophy room (he was 11 times British champion and twice European champion). There is, as they say, plenty for everyone. Those in the family not into motorbikes can get up close to a variety of animals, including ducks and donkeys, goats and alpacas, there’s a children’s play area, gift shops and Bashley Manor Tea Rooms, which have been recently extended into the museum.
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Lunch & afternoon tea
The Beachomber Cafe in Barton on Sea is a popular family-run tearoom and ice cream parlour perched on the clifftop with stunning views across to the Needles. The menu encompasses breakfast, lunch and ‘Vintage Tea’. Neighbouring Pebble Beach shares similar views but has a totally different swanky vibe, and is always receiving accolades and appearing in those ‘top coastal restaurant’ lists that feature in the national press. There’s a specialism in shellfish so you can lunch on fruits de mer, lobster and Lymington dressed crab alfresco on the sunny terrace above the waters.
A new addition to the eating out scene is Willow Restaurant at Milton Barns (miltonwillow.com). Owners Rob and Caroline Petsinger only recently revamped and reopened Milton Barns after falling in love with this old 19th century listed barn. They were looking for another venture and felt New Milton needed a cafe/restaurant of this ilk within easy walking distance of the centre. They’re already establishing a good reputation for great food including Sunday roasts and cream teas, freshly made each day, and being welcoming and family friendly.
Foodies will also enjoy discovering New Milton-based food producers such as Chocolate by Miss Witt and Olives Direct (both to be found on Lymington’s Saturday market), plus artisan baker Bread Port, and Pinch of Salt - cured meats including New Forest wild boars, made to James Golding of THE PIG’s original recipes and available through Bartlett’s butchers (Station Road). Check out Danestream Farm Shop (Sway Road) for more tasty local produce.
Back to nature
Try a Forest hack with Burley Villa School of Riding (Bashley Common Road). They can take beginners, youngsters and families out on gentle walk and jog ‘Western Trails’ or more experienced riders on hacks across the Forest. Children need to be seven or older to ride out on beginner rides, 90-minute or two hour Forest hacks, but Burley Villa also teach children from four upwards, and there are ‘Cowboy Adventures’ for ‘Cowkids’ aged four to 12.
Those preferring something less strenuous might like to try fishing at Orchard Lakes with 12 different species of fish over five lakes (www.orchardlakes.co.uk). A reasonably priced day out (from 7am into the evening) is just £11 for adults and £8 for juniors, plus there’s tuition available with a coach on site (www.fun2fish.co.uk).
Surprise, surprise! Here in quiet old New Milton is a lively venue, Forest Arts, in a converted former military drill hall. The programme is particularly strong on comedy acts, live music, theatre and quality exhibitions. Some of the acts lining up for summer include Deborah Frances-White (following her hit BBC Radio 4 comedy series), Susan Calman and Mark Thomas, plus Lady Maisery (fiddling and diddling), King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys and Curtis Eller’s American Circus. Finish off the day by watching the splendid sunsets on the seafront.
Eat & sleep
For the ultimate experience, Chewton Glen on the edge of the Forest offers luxury, indulgent spa breaks, and delicious cuisine. Try the tasting menu and stay in one of the Treehouse suites to feel you’ve truly escaped. If it’s coast you want, aforementioned Pebble Beach also has rooms and a penthouse suite, or there’s the newly refurbished Cliff House Hotel and Bay Restaurant with rooms with sea views.
My New Milton - Kerry Witt, Chocolate by Miss Witt
New Milton’s Kerry Witt creates delicious, award-winning chocolates made with a unique ganache using local Hildon mineral water. Kerry was on the international panel of judges for this year’s prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards, and her chocolates can be found at Forage Deli in Lyndhurst , Maison Cuisine, Lymington, and Hockey’s Farm shop, South Gorley as well as Lymington Market.
“In New Milton, a must visit is Bradbeers a family-run department store including perfumery, shoe shop, gents and ladies clothing, haberdashery and coffee shop. It’s a store with a warm feel and very friendly staff.
“For lunch stroll down to The Beachcomber at Barton on Sea with a sea view from the Needles all the way round to Mudeford. They offer light lunches and the most amazing cakes, or ice cream from their ice cream parlour. You can sit outside and relax in the clifftop gardens or sit inside if there’s a chill in the air – you will still have a full view of the Solent.
“If you are after a more luxurious lunch visit Chewton Glen hotel with Executive Chef Luke Matthews at the helm and a great value three-course set lunch menu for £26.50.”
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