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The River Avon, New Forest, Hampshire

Choose a hotel in the New Forest and enter a walker's paradise. A horse rider's dream, a mountain biker's Eden and a place of outstanding natural beauty. Whether you want to get active or just leisurely sit-back and simple take in the views, the New Forest is the ultimate retreat.

Things to do in the New Forest

The New Forest is home to 193,000 acres of unspoilt and ancient woodland. With 143 miles of track available for visitors to explore as they please, the biggest decision is how you want to see the forest. Hire a mountain bike and tackle the endless trails that wind through the beautiful forest taking you to the heart of the woody wonderland, through fields and all the way to the coast. Join a guided walk or pick up a walkers guide, which will lead you to neighbouring towns of Ashurst or Lymington to take in local life or to one of the many rustic New Forest pubs. Alternatively, see the forest on horseback. Famous for the 3,000 wild New Forest ponies that roam freely around the forest, it is one of the most rewarding ways of taking in the beautiful landscape. Visit a local riding school and join a forest hack, whether you're a complete novice or have been in the saddle longer than you've been in nappies, all levels are catered for.

New Forest visitor tips

You'll see ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep and pigs roaming freely over the 145 square miles of open forest and farmland, but don't let that put you off walking its paths. Don't feed the animals (and don't set up a stunning picnic too close to a herd of livestock) and they won't bother you. Be sure to avoid approaching any animals with offspring as mothers can be very protective of their young and might act defensively. Take an Ordnance Survey map and a compass if you intend to take a long walk, as it can be hard to get a mobile phone signal should you get lost!

Things to do around the New Forest

The nearby villages of Lyndhurst and Lymington are home to a number of quintessentially British tearooms, where you can sit down to a traditional afternoon tea. The old village of Burley is also a common tourist attraction with its many beautiful art galleries, antique shops and craft stores. Head to the Solent for maritime history and sailing opportunities. Visit Barton-on-sea for a secluded beach with views towards the Isle of Wight or Exbury on the banks of Beaulieu River to visit the world famous woodland Exbury Gardens, complete with steam railway.

Eat

Look out for the New Forest Product Marque when shopping local produce; only truly authentic products that were reared and sourced from the surrounding area are awarded the prestigious banner. For the freshest of seafood, head to Lymington's busy quay and marina where an abundance of cafes and restaurants nestle amongst the period cottages and fishing boats. Stanwell House serves only seafood sourced from local fisherman, whilst The Bistro's stunning terrace is the perfect spot of al fresco dining. Stunning gastro pubs complete with period features, stunning views, and locally brewed ales to boot are dotted throughout the expanse of countryside and are the most popular watering holes in the neighbouring towns and villages. The Drift Inn in Beaulieu is known locally for its log fires and locally sourced menu and real ales; it's child friendly too!

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