The New Forest National Park covers an area of 566 square kilometres and is made up of vast tracts of unspoilt woodland, heathland and river valleys. The beautiful New Forest coastline is similarly protected and even though the area attracts thousands of visitors each year it rarely becomes crowded.
The commoner’s ponies and the pretty villages of Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Burley and Lyndhurst are among the main visitor attractions, along with the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, the New Forest Museum at Lyndhurst and Exbury Gardens.
But food is another reason to visit the New Forest, since it is rich in traditional country pubs, cosy tea rooms, fine restaurants and top quality local produce.
Quality is assured by the New Forest Marque, a sign that the highest standards of animal welfare, production and sourcing have been applied to any locally-produced foodstuffs carrying its name.
New Forest specialities include venison, cider, sausages, honey, beef, pork, mushrooms, fresh crabs and sole and many of the Forest’s restaurants, hotels and cafés offer menus featuring local food.
A day of walking, cycling or exploring wouldn’t be the same without the New Forest Breakfast. This hearty start to the day, consisting of locally-produced sausages, eggs, bacon, mushrooms and even bread, is served in many hotels and B&Bs and there’s even a veggie version for non meat eaters.
Tea rooms and traditional pubs are a highlight of the New Forest but there is also a wide choice of restaurants in the coastal town of Lymington. For fine dining and special occasions, the Forest is also home to some prestigious hotels and restaurants, such as Chewton Glen, Hotel TerraVina, Carey’s Manor and Lime Wood.
For those who like to learn about the origins of their food, you can go on mushroom foraging expeditions with experts or experience contemporary and old-fashioned cider making at the New Forest Cider farm in Burley.
You can follow the New Forest Taste Trails by bike, on foot or on hoof, sampling local ice creams, ploughman’s lunches, cream teas, seafood and the New Forest Breakfast along the way.
There are farmers’ markets throughout the Forest year round and Lymington and New Milton also have weekly markets.
The New Forest Show takes place every year over three days in July and includes a tempting food hall where you can sample cakes, ice-creams, sweets, chutneys, jams, meat and fish dishes, vegetables, fruit and honey.