The New Forest is just a lot of trees, right? Yes, and then again no. It is trees but so much more than I thought while on a trip there last week. Just 90 minutes from London’s Waterloo, Brockenhurst was a good place to start.
A bus took us the lovely Bartley Lodge Hotel near Cadnam, beautifully styled, welcoming and very comfortable.
Walk in the Forest
A good walk around part of the forest was led by Lyndsey Stride and Tom Hordell who explained so much that we would have missed. They are both Commoners, people who are allowed to live in the New Forest so are really in touch with it on a daily basis in a totally hands-on way.
Of course, the only rain we got for the week was on this walk, so we headed off into an open barn where they showed us the branding irons used to brand all the ponies as they are all owned by someone, they are not actually wild as I had thought.
It took just 38 years to build Salisbury Cathedral, from 1520 to 1558, and today is stunningly beautiful. John Constable was so right to paint it from the Water Meadows, changed now of course by development over the years but nothing detracts for the tall spire which dominates the landscape.
One of the only four copies of the original Magna Carta is on display there, a small document which has shaped the life of these isles ever since it was written.
Full of light, the cathedral it is inspiring even for non-believers, a wonderful standing testament to the men who built it 500 years ago.
The final day was a very early rise so as to be at Stonehenge for 8am. It was a cold January day and with a wind blowing it was tempting to skip it but I’m so glad I didn’t.
Our guide Pat Shelley gave a good and thought provoking tour around the inner circle of monoliths, magnificent in their simplistic beauty and a testament to the sheer will power and energy of its builders.
Its true purpose can never be known, but academics and scholars have deduced that its purpose was largely ceremonial, not that it can be either proved or disputed.
The Bartley Lodge Hotel at Cadnam near Lyndhurst is set back amongst trees and was a lovely place to stay.
Excellent meals were available in many places but the meal at The Red Lion pub in East Chisenbury in the Wiltshire countryside was the highlight, the Old Ale Coffee House in Salisbury ran it a close second.
Would I go back to the New Forest? Definitely, now I can see the wood for the trees!
For travel information about the area visit www.thenewforest.co.uk
My thanks to Go New Forest www.gonewforest.com for all their help and assistance during my visit.