Rachel Parsons

Rachel Parsons - Founder & Green Queen

Rachel is the 3rd generation in her family who has worked with guests in the tourism industry. Her grandmother ran a self-catering business for years. Her mum does Bed and Breakfast. Rachel made a lot of tea for guests when she was a kid….

Rachel lived in Australia working for an adventure tourism company hosting guests in remote bush camps and farming sheep and cattle. She ended up as a travel writer for an eclectic travel brand that many pennies dropped.  She says, “the most successful businesses were those with a thoughtful set up, the sharing of their knowledge, the interesting, rather than predictable style.

Pre COP 2010 Rachel worked for The Prince’s Rainforests Project, co-ordinating their youth education programme. That followed up with support and consultancy for The Environmental Justice Foundation, a social justice education programme for The People Speak with History Channel, Eden Project and others gave her a good grounding in sustainability goals.

In 2011, with a very small baby in tow, Rachel started renting Ploughmans Cottage as a holiday cottage. It ran it for 4 years before she set up New Forest Escapes, partly with the goal of encouraging more people to holiday in the UK, reducing travel emissions and making UK holidays a proper option to overseas family travel.

She has an ongoing love affair with trees, horses and bicycles and to develop the company brand, creative, work on the sales-side and generally steer the tiller.

Helping us go-green...

How do NFE’s social & environmental goals align with you & your job role?

I head up the green work that we do in the business, so whether it’s weighing rubbish, researching living wages, driving community engagement, or reviewing and recommending local suppliers- we’re into it & my focus is it make it happen!

Encompassing all of the social and environmental work that we all do, I have also been focused on gaining B Corp accreditation. After nearly 6 months of dedication (there was stringent evaluation), we are so thrilled to have achieved our goal of being an official B Corp company! This is just the start of our journey to be greener and greater, but with a mission to be transperant as we evolve our aim is to inspire and educate others along the way.

Next up on my list is a study around how much waste our holiday homes make, so that we can look at ways to help owners and guests reduce this. There’s much work to be done, and its going to be an on-going evolution.. but this really is a journey I am dedicated to continue!

Q&A...

How long have you been local in the area?

I’ve lived in and around the New Forest for the last 14 years. In particular we love the lovely and unspoilt piece of coast between Lymington and Beaulieu. The coast is wild and slightly ‘lost’ there. It’s hard to reach in places and tends to be very quiet. There is a curious patchwork of farmland, little lanes flanked with short-cropped grass verge and the herd of ponies that live (or some would say ‘heft’) there.

I have an 8 year old daughter and have home schooled her for 4 years. We love to take day walks and go off for ‘micro-adventures’; maths on the beach, looking for sand lizards on the heathlands, foraging for spring greens, listening to sky larks. We spend a huge amount of time outside, combining my blog research for guests with ‘life learning’. I hail from Somerset/Devon border area. Having grown up on a small holding (we milked our cow until I was 11), I have a great love for agricultural and wild areas, in particular ancient forest. So living here is a treat.

You’ll find the results of our walks and explorations in the blogs I’ve written. They cherry pick out the best of the best bits. The New Forest is easy on the eye, many come here, but it’s not hard to find wildness if you know where to go. As a company, we will weather these hard times of COVID19 and come out with some more deep wrinkles on our faces. It’s not been easy and we’re by no means half way through. But the future for UK holidays holds good stead and we are grateful for that silver lining.

A huge part of my personal drive to make this business successful is my desire to look after people. I was born into a ‘service’ household. Mum was a nurse. She did B&B at home. Gran did too. We were expected to help. We had kids from less fortunate backgrounds stay with us each summer. I’ve always naturally taken a teaching and enabling role through my career. I really love helping people create memories.

Where is your favourite place to go for friends/family in the forest?

I’ve written a lot of blogs on favourite places now. Read more about them here. 

For walks with friends – Hurst Castle.

To avoid the wind walk from Ranswood deep into the oaks, in the mixed forests around Brockenhurst and I love the walks from Beaulieu village to Beaulieu Road train station.

For walks with kids – Rhinefield circular walk is great for dens, which are built at regular short intervals so kids can run on and find the next one. I also love Tanners Lane beach for summer play. Sand, silt, shallow water. Great.

I also love the walk from Bucklers Hard to Beaulieu. The river is so pretty and English, for anyone who has lived for a long time overseas, they will smile.

For mobile grandparents – all the above of course. 60 is the new 40. Right? For less mobile people, then if you can, put them on the boat service at Keyhaven and boat them to Hurst Castle, then picnic or have a flask cuppa there, then boat them back. Part of the group can walk, or all go together and walk around the castle when you get there. The history there will be most grandparents cup of tea, and there’s one of those in the tiny café too. Do check when it’s open.

Which is your favourite beach in summer and also in winter?

Summer has to be Tanners Lane. In Winter I go to Hordle Cliffs Beach in Milford. The dog comes too and we can go wild with no one around.

Where is the best coffee served locally?

Brockenhurst. The Sett.

But if you have kids in tow, and want a bit of space for them to run around in, Mable’s Garden Centre does a good job.

Where is your favourite place to eat in the forest?

OK, well I used to be a travel writer and I’m very spoilt. My absolute favourite is foraging and cooking for myself, but if you push me…

The Pig Brockenhurst for super spoils. Breakfast is excellent there. And I love walking in for a coffee in the garden in summer.
The Larder in Lymington has been a long time favourite of mine. We go there to home-school quietly at the corner tables in the winter. Where do you go to get away from the crowds and escape for some downtime in the National Park?

What do you do to relax?

I live near Pilley, a tiny village, full of donkeys and ponies (I’m not joking – they are nearly always outside the village shop) and there are some lovely footpaths across farmland in the National Park.

There are large herds of wild Fallow Deer and I love to walk really slowly, listening to the birds, my feet on the grass and the wind. I often sit quietly in a group of large firs in a conservation area. The footpath here isn’t much used. It’s amazing how much you can see when you stop.

What do you love about your job the most?

I love talking to our guests and matchmaking them to the right house. And if I speak with them after they’ve booked then I love to enthuse them with simple ideas for reconnecting with the wildness they seek. Like taking the kids for a night walk to listen to owls along the Beaulieu River.

About Us                Meet the Team