A Break For All Seasons
Travel editor and Silver Travel Advisor, David Powell, visits the New Forest on a short break.
A National Park
The New Forest is one of the most unspoilt and glorious parts of Southern England. This unique area, full of picturesque villages, bustling market towns and winding country lanes, is a perfect and relaxing environment for a short break whatever the season.
In 1079 William the Conqueror set aside the area as a royal playground for the hunting of deer, today the National Park is made up of a well cared for mix of forest, pasture and heathland. The environmental impact of the many visitors has to be carefully balanced and the whole forest has a 40 mph speed limit with lots of dedicated car parking areas. Here you’ll give way to ponies and cattle grazing freely as they have done for centuries with plenty of opportunity to see the famous ponies at close quarter. Deep in the wooded areas you’ll also spot the deer. The New Forest is a wonderful spot for walkers and cyclists alike with miles of splendid walks and cycle routes.
There’s a wealth of attractions to visit including the famous Beaulieu National Motor Museum. From the earliest motor carriages to classic family saloons, the National Motor Museum boasts one of the finest collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia in the world.
Over 250 vehicles tell the story of motoring on the roads and circuits of Britain, from pioneering origins to the present day. The stylish, the elegant, the fast, the famous and the plain functional are all on show at what is the most well renowned motor museum in the UK. This is a rather special place and definitely worth a visit when you’re in the area.
Brockenhurst is one of the largest villages in the New Forest which still retains its old world charm and is a delight to visit. Famous for the watersplash at the bottom of the main shopping street where animals stop to drink – just beyond is open heathland and some fantastic woodland walks.
Owned and run by Christina Simons; Cottage Lodge is a perfect location for a well-earned break. Christina’s attention to detail, her commitment to conservation and her customer service is outstanding which has led to many awards over recent years including the AA top 5 star Bed and Breakfast rating.
Constructed as a Forester’s Cottage in 1650 from reclaimed ships timbers and hand made bricks and sand, the accommodation has been extended into a superb B&B, although you can still experience the original building and beams in the charming Snug. A former hotel in years gone by, Cottage Lodge has a hotel-style arrangement with a range of Superior rooms and Standard en-suite rooms, three of which have patio access. The Morant room is ‘dog-friendly’ with wooden floors and an enclosed patio garden. A disabled room is also available with many essential features including room for wheelchair movement and a super kingsize bed.
Whilst all the rooms at Cottage Lodge are delightful, there are a number of particularly romantic rooms like the King William with its four-poster bed and small lounge area. There are also a number of eco rooms such as the first floor James Hill Room. James Hill is a warm and welcoming room overlooking the front of the building with a Romeo and Juliette balcony and a king size four-poster bed hand carved from sustainable sources. All rooms have excellent facilities including tea and coffee trays and a dvd player with a wide selection of dvd’s to choose from.
I also had the opportunity to see the Exbury room with its bed made from a 200 year old fallen New Forest oak, and the unusual Standing Hat room constructed from local Douglas Fir. After check-in you can come and go as you please and the Snug is a comfortable cosy lounge and sitting area for guests to enjoy.
It had been a while since my last New Forest breakfast and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with my first meal of the day here – excellent! Cottage Lodge prides itself on the use of fresh local ingredients wherever possible as a traditional breakfast.
Fallen Tree Restaurant
Christina runs the Fallen Tree Restaurant as a dinner dining experience based on local fresh produce. Dinner was reasonably priced and superbly prepared and served in relaxed comfortable surroundings.
The restaurant is fully licensed, nothing was too much trouble and the quality of the meals and service was outstanding. I had dinner here and can highly recommend this restaurant.
Fallen Tree is a highly appropriate name as Cottage Lodge has a strong eco theme and some of the bedroom furniture has been beautifully crafted from a fallen ash tree by local wood sculptor Rob Dyer. The tables in the restaurant are made from a rare black poplar tree, which had to be felled for safety reasons, and if you line them up in the correct order you can recreate the tree!
On the now tranquil and picturesque banks of the Beaulieu River, Buckler’s Hard was once a hive of shipbuilding activity – providing warships for Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.
With the oaks of the New Forest on its doorstep, Buckler’s Hard was founded by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu in the 1720s as a centre for trade and shipbuilding. Its most celebrated launch, HMS Agamemnon, was famed for being Admiral Lord Nelson’s favourite warship. Since then little has changed, and today it remains unspoilt by the passage of time. Here you can enjoy the peaceful riverside surroundings of this historic village and tour the reconstructed cottage interiors for a taste of 18th Century life. Explore the Maritime Museum to learn more about the village history and its residents before taking a relaxing cruise on the Beaulieu River (seasonal times of the year).
Escape to Cottage Lodge at any time of the year and I’m sure Christina and her team will make you feel most welcome.
If you come by car, parking is no problem as there’s a large car park out front and if you want to you can pre-book your own spot in advance.
Arriving by train and the station is just 5 minutes walk away.
Cycles can be hired in Brockenhurst and horse riding stables are nearby.
Cottage Lodge is located at Sway Road, Brockenhurst SO42 7SH. Tel: 01590 622296.
More information is available at: