Unique things to do in the New Forest

Hampshire's famous New Forest Ponies

Hampshire's famous New Forest Ponies - Credit: Victor Ochieng / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The New Forest is a natural jewel in the south of England that has long enamoured all that encounter its exquisite landscape, from William the Conqueror, who declared it a royal forest in the 11th century, to people from all over the world hoping to encounter roaming ponies.

While simply taking a stroll through any of the 71,474 acres of forest, heathland, and pasture land have so much to offer, here are some unique and exciting things to do while visiting the New Forest.

Dine like a King

Enjoy a fire-cooked banquet in the heart of the New Forest, and don't just take our word for it Ritual Feast was featured on ITV's James Martin's Islands to Highlands last year. With a menu perfected over 5 years, this woodland banquet is likely to be one of the greatest dining experiences to be found in Hampshire. With a lineup of tender lamb, smoked garlic and chilli chicken, soy and lemon glazed pork belly, and slow-cooked teriyaki beef...it's safe to say nothing here is vegetarian—Bon appetite. 

Take a walk to see the Oldest tree in the New Forest

Knightwood Oak

The Knightwood Oak is said to be the oldest oak tree (400-600 years old!) in the New Forest, and it's also the largest, with a girth of 7.4m. If you're keen to see the majesty of the Oak, often referred to as the Queen of the Forest, there is a walk that starts at the Knightwood Oak Carpark, which is easy to follow and rather delightful on a summers evening or a crisp autumn morning. 

Have a spot of aquatic fun

Take a dip or a colossal splash at Lymington Sea Water Baths, if you're after an adventure, there's an exciting 200m inflatable obstacle course to tackle, or if you're looking for a slightly more chilled out time on the water, you can try out stand up paddleboarding.

Take a mindfulness retreat

Get in some me-time at The Retreat New Forest by taking a yoga class, a gong bath or practising a little Tai Chi. Or maybe a rejuvenating deep tissue massage is exactly what the doctor ordered. With the UK slowly opening back up, it's just as important as ever to practise well-being. Just like it was strange and baffling to isolate and stay indoors constantly, it will take time for many people to get used to things going back to normal.

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Let off some steam

Train journey through the gardens

Sit back, relax and explore the exquisite array of flora on board a beautiful steam train that meanders through Exbury Gardens. Dogs are welcome along for the ride, too, making it a perfect way to unwind after traversing the grounds. To make a day of the visit, bring along a scrumptious picnic or grab a bite to eat from the on-site restaurant.

Have a sweet escape 

Become a Beekeeper for a day with the help of The Noble Bee. Learn about all Bees and the process of Beekeeping, sample some delicious honey, and get stuck in and inspect a real-life working hive. 

Medieval Madness 

Have a go at some exciting medieval field sports such as Archery, Crossbows and Axe Throwing. Forget paintballing; insight Activities also have a great team-building game called Castle Siege. The aim is to work together to build a catapult that will help you bring down a target Castle. 

Take a Tour

Hop on an open-top bus and enjoy expansive views over the New Forest landscape alongside an audio commentary. Spot intrepid ponies and take in the charm of quaint Hampshire villages, stop off in Burley for a cream tea, head to Beaulieu to explore the motor museum and catch some rays at Milford-on-sea. 

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