Students in Southampton are lucky enough to have the New Forest National Park right on their doorstep. But how many of you have actually been there? If you’re feeling like you need a dose of country air or want to get a few selfies with those famous wild New Forest ponies, look no further! Read on for the details of where to go, how to get there and how to while away a day in the New Forest.
The New Forest is full of character-filled villages and towns (Lyndhurst is a gem), but most are quite tricky to get to without a car. The exceptions to the rule are Brockenhurst and Lymington, which are both easily accessible by train from Southampton and wonderful spots to explore at any time of year.
Trains to Brockenhurst leave from Southampton Airport Parkway and Southampton Central stations on a half hourly basis.
It’s smack-bang in the heart of the New Forest and is surrounded by beautiful countryside full of wildlife. Keep your eye out for ponies and deer on the train journey!
Once you’re in Brockenhurst, head right through the village and out onto the heath. Make sure you’re wearing decent shoes as it’s generally fairly muddy. At the end of the long footpath across the heat (once you’ve negotiated the puddles and had a few pictures with the curious New Forest ponies) you’ll find a picturesque bridge which crosses the river. There are exploring, tree climbing and photo opportunities galore round here.
If funds can stretch to it, there are a couple of cosy pubs in Brockenhurst that serve up classic pub food that will warm you up on a chilly autumn/winter (and let’s be realistic, spring and summer) day, after you’ve worked up an appetite. If you’re on a tighter budget, bring your own sandwich to stave off starvation, but definitely treat yourself to a hot drink or a pint of something to round off your day trip.
A return ticket to Brockenhurst with a railcard is currently around the £4.60 mark, and it takes under 20 minutes to get there!
Top Tip: Brockenhurst is only about 20 miles from Southampton, so you can cycle there and catch the train back!
Lymington is a gorgeous seaside town stuffed with boutiques for window shopping, charity shops full of designer cast-offs, and most importantly loads of atmospheric pubs.
To get to Lymington, get off the train at Brockenhurst and catch the small train that shutles between the two towns.
Get off at Lymington Town and wander towards the high street. After having exhausted the (window) shopping possibilities, have a walk along the edge of the marina and inspect the boats. If it’s raining, my personal favourite place to hide is The Ship, a beautifully decorated pub right on the marina with big windows through which you can watch the wind in the sails of the boats whilst feeling extremely cosy!
If you can’t stretch to pub food, the fish and chip shop on the high street is a great option, and a picnic on the marina’s edge is heaven on warmer days.
A return ticket to Lymington Town currently costs £5.70 with a railcard, and it takes less than 40 minutes to get there!
Happy day tripping!
This article originally appeared in the travel section of the Wessex Scene. Have you got any tips for places to explore in the Southampton area? Share!