Last summer I spent a lovely holiday in Hampshire. Hampshire to me is that one piece of old England that always made me dream through movies and literature. It is so inspirational for inner searchers, everything sparks your attention and your senses. From nature to narrow streets and villages, from free-roaming animals (cows, ponies, donkeys) to quiet and warm people, far from the rush of everyday life. Nature makes you feel at ease with the rest of the world, and living your day at a slow pace will do so good to your body and soul. The New Forest in Hampshire offers lots of pretty towns and villages to visit. Let’s see some of them.
Amongst the places I have visited, I had to start with Lyndhurst, the largest village in the New Forest, also the birthplace of Alice Liddell, the child who inspired Lewis Carroll’s novel. I saw her grave and visited the church where her memorial is. In fact, a must do is to visit this magnificent gothic church. From there you can walk up and down in this small and quiet village and let your thoughts float away. You can stop at the wooden craft shop to buy some little pretty souvenirs or you can treat yourself to a homemade cake and an afternoon tea at Peggy May’s Cafe. I loved this tea room, so bright, cheerful and colourful, surrounded by pinks, light greens and all shades of pastel colours, maybe you will feel like celebrating your UNbirthday too :). And if you want to dream for a couple of minutes a richer lifestyle you can always stop and stare at the Ferrari and Maserati latest models in their big central showrooms. After your walk, take the opportunity to relax by choosing within the wide range of tea rooms, pubs and restaurants that this stunning fairy-tale village has to offer you.
a lovely tea room in Lyndhurst
The first time I visited Lymington was on a cloudy day but I liked it so much that I had to go back and see this little and charming Georgian market town for a second time, this time luckily, it was bright and sunny. As you get to the marina, you find yourself surrounded by fishing boats and yachts and all you can think of is how good it is just to relax and appreciate little things in life: the warm sunlight on your face, a slow pace style of life, a tasty chocolate ice cream cone, and as you take a stroll around the little shops and boutiques, you fall in love with this ancient and colourful town. If you fancy shopping, Lymington High Street has several independent shops and designer boutiques, but if you are more into outdoor activities, you can opt for a sailing day off on your own or through a skippered yacht charter company. Lymington is the kind of place where you want to stop and learn to sail. Or you might just enjoy wandering around the old town, watching boats come and go in a sort of “carpe diem” mood. As you walk outside of the town you will find the Wightlink ferry port, from which a car ferry travels to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.
Lymington – marina
The Isle of Wight
From Lymington, you can take a ferry boat and in just 40 minutes you are in Yarmouth town. Yarmouth is such a pretty historical port town, I enjoyed walking through its cobbled streets, magically lost in time, while the sunshine warmed up my face. Then I left the shops and people behind me, and literally wandered, in admiration of the beautiful residential houses, till I found myself in front of a multicoloured real postcard.. between the sea and the gardens, silence all over, such a peaceful scenery with just a few fishermen in distance. In Yarmouth, you will find plenty of cafes where you can just sit and relax in front of a delicious coffee and a homemade cake, but you also will find all sorts of shops and some interesting art galleries. While you are there do not miss the beautiful 17th Century church that overlooks the main square. Take a walk up Yarmouth Pier to enjoy the view of the West Wight coastline or simply see the ferry coming into the dock and watch the sunset over the sea. If you love nature and photography and have the time you should definitely explore the entire Isle of Wight. You can move around with public transport of course or if you fancy having some exercise then why not hire a bike and cycle to visit all the picturesque villages (Bembridge, Freshwater, etc) and pretty small towns (Newport, Ventnor etc) around the island. You will find yourself inside a pretty postcard with those typical English thatched cottages, surrounded by unique spots of astounding natural beauty. If you are into history and want to know more about local heritage do not miss the famous historical monuments such as St Catherine’s Oratory, the Mottistone Longstone, and Tennyson’s Monument. The Isle of Wight is really for everyone: for families with kids who will get entertained with animal attractions at the zoo or at the Robin Hill Country fun Park, for young groups of people who love sports (there is a great offer of outdoor adventure activities), and for couples who want to relax and find romance in this awesome island with an amazing choice of the most beautiful sandy beaches in England.
You cannot visit Hampshire without stopping at least for a day or two in Brockenhurst, a lovely small village (3000 inhabitants) located in the heart of the New Forest National Park. Between Lyndhurst and Lymington, Brockenhurst is a bustling, attractive old village. If you love nature and animals you will be amazed finding ponies and donkeys roaming free. Brockenhurst has also top quality pubs and restaurants and friendly tea rooms. If you are without a car, as I was, getting to Brockenhurst is very simple because the village is located along a mainline railway route.
Free – roaming horses in Brockenhurst