With the heatwave sweeping the UK, leafy shade and watery adventures were calling, so we packed our bags, excited to head off for a few days away in the UK’s most famous forest. With his tail wagging, ready for some adventures, Rigby, our pet-friendly muse jumped happily in the car keen to get on his way, (and possibly get to luxuriate in the air conditioning!) as we made our way out of London.
Our first stop, Lyndhurst. Having persuaded Rigby that it really was worth getting out of the cool car, we made our way to the paw-friendly visitor’s centre. Walking maps soon in hand we moseyed into town to find a well deserved cup of tea and bowl of water for the furry one, now keen to explore. Plan formulated and focused on the shadiest walking spots, we picked up a picnic from delightful deli The Forage and jumped in the car once more.
Now, who would be the first to spot one of the famous New Forest ponies? Setting off towards Emery Down we needn’t have feared, ponies were very soon all around! Pulling over to watch the lovely sight of the string of ponies going about their business, oblivious to the interest they were creating, Rigby was soon sitting-up sniffing before doing a double take at the ponies passing his window. Not a peep emerged from the furry one as he sat head cocked, curiously watching them, totally captivated as they meandered past. Eventually, drawing ourselves away we set-off to further explore. Driving through the area, over towards Burley was a magical experience, from expansive heathlands to the forest paths, with the regular stream of the famous wildlife, it was a charming spot. With the picnic calling us we pulled over to one of the many forest walkways to enjoy lunch and take a stroll to stretch our legs and paws through the cool glades, which were a welcome retreat from the heat!
All in need of a siesta, we took the short drive to our host for the night, the dog-friendly coaching inn, The Bell Inn in Brook. With over 200 years in the same family, this cosy spot came complete with sheep and ponies across the village green, keeping us all entranced as we relaxed in the garden together. When dinner time dawned, despite the loveliness of the bar, we could not leave the beautiful summer evening so plumped for dinner in the garden, Rigby loving rolling round in the grass at our feet.
With a menu that breaks away from the usual gastropub fare, we plumped for potted crab and forest mushrooms to start, followed by roasted breast of chicken served with borlotti beans, smoked pancetta fricassée and summer vegetables, as well as butter roasted fillet of sea trout, with salsify, samphire, new potatoes and salade verde. Dessert, a deconstructed Eaton mess – delightful on a summer’s day.
After the last of the sun had set and Rigby had taken one final peak under the fence at the passing ponies, we headed off for a good night sleep.
Rising raring to go, Rigby got us to the garden to find yet more ponies there to greet us – a really charming way to start the day!
After a hearty and rather tasty breakfast, we were set. Now off to explore once more, this time to the southern parts of the New Forest, our first stop Beaulieu. Find out more about our adventures and our picks of pawfect pet-friendly places to eat, sleep and play with your dog with our dog-friendly guide to the majestic New Forest.