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Insider’s Guide to Brockenhurst

Brockenhurst, or ‘Brock’ to the locals, is a sleepy little red brick village in the centre of the new forest. Encircled entirely by National Park. A ford runs through the middle, ponies and donkeys rub their bottoms on the shop door handles and you can take a train to Waterloo in well under 2 hours.

The high street is well worth a visit to explore the little cafe’s and of course a fantastic butcher, baker and a candlestick seller (very good independent DIY store) no less. The village is central in the lower half of the forest area. You can reach the beach in 12 minutes by car or by 2 hours walk. It’s got a lovely young vibe and during term time the village is full of students from Brock College.

This sweet and busy little village sits central in the National Park. The entire village is home to the animals of the forest who are welcomed along all the streets, lanes, and especially the High Street where they often wander along. It’s common to find ponies resting in the shade of shop doorways, begging for food outside Tesco, asleep on the pavements and drinking from the clear water in the ford at the top of the High Street.

The village is also bursting with amazing hotels, 2 world-class spas and various friendly inns and pubs. There’s plenty to do here too. From walking and cycling, to golf at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club and, during the summer, the annual spectacle and celebration of forest life that is the New Forest Show.

Getting Here

Brockenhurst is conveniently located 30 mins from Southampton and under 15 mins from Lymington by car.

There is a main line train stations in Brockenhurst. The trip from Bournemouth will take you 9 minutes and London Waterloo is between 1hr 48 mins and a little over 2 hours.

The area is lovely for many reasons. Our absolute favourites are listed for you below.

Cycling

Many parts of the forest, hidden to the motorist, are easily accessible by bicycle on designated gravel tracks.

Once you get into the open forest, there are family friendly, safe off-road and gentle cycle routes, with tracks through the open heathland and sheltered woods. More active folk can cycle to nearby villages such as Lyndhurt, Burley and Rhinefield. If you do not have your own bikes, Cycle hire is avalible all year round.

Further information regarding cycling routes can be found here or the Forestry Commission website bike pages here. 

Cycle hire:

Cyclexperience are a great company. Our guests get 10% off. Not only can you hire excellent choice of bikes right beside the train station, but you can also get the bikes delivered to your door. They have an extensive selection of routes with good maps, so enjoying the National Park and escaping into the woods has never been easier.

Car drives

Rhinefield walk lane is beautiful. There are good parking spots and short, long and mostly flat walks out into the forest are superb from there. Cream tea at the hotel there is worth it too.

Alternatively you could take the Big Green Bus – an open-topped double decker. If you want the most scenic drives in the area, visit their website for route ideas.

For Foodies

The Pig hotel. The group has since expanded and most British foodie’s will recognise the brand name. It stands for relaxed, British, luxury and they achieve their goal of sourcing all food from a 25 mile distance from the hotel – many of the ingredients are grown in the walled gardens at the hotels themselves. With 25 types of mint (including chocolate) it’s well worth a look around. Here at the Brockenhurst Pig, the spa treatment room is a garden shed accessed by jetty through a pond. Do try to book in. Well behaved children will be welcome. The menu is very seasonal, so check their website here and make sure you book very early!

Another great favourite of ours is Limewood Hotel. Owned by the same group as The Pig it is however, more chi chi and elegant. They do welcome kids, but it’s not as easy going. The spa here is one to write home about. Consistently award-winning, it’ll knock your socks off. Some of our swankiest owners are founder members. They do a great Raw&Cured restaurant and often have Friday night offers for detoxers needing to fast-track a weekend of down-time. Again, book early. Our guests get 10% off in off peak season. Visit their website here. 

  • For walking and getting out in the forest –

  • We’ve done quite a bit of work to prepare some ideas for our guests. Do check our blog about Forest Bathing and Tree Hunting down the wonderful ancient trees in the area.
  • For kids –

The Water Splash near Balmer Lawn Hotel also known as ‘The Brockenhurst Beach’.

This is unmissable if you have small children. In summer the stream is broad, shallow, surrounded by grassy banks and trees for climbing. Float things down the stream, dam it, jump it, paddle, splash, bring the dog… It’s lovely. The parking here can be tricky on a hot weekend.  Look for the parking area just opposite the entrance to the hotel, the stream is just behind.

  • For children, we have blog posts about Catching Unicorns – great for little girls birthday parties.
    Or beach treasure hunts. Or my favourite, Swallows and Amazons days out on nearby beaches (with important preparation including watching Ray Mears series on TV for lots of Sunday evenings before your stay).

New Forest Ponies & Donkeys –

There is no better place to see the New Forest Ponies, and donkies than Brock. They  can still be seen wandering along Brockenhurst’s main shopping street, as well as roaming the open forest – and roads too! Be careful if driving and keep a look out for a pony crossing!  Although these animals are confident and happy to walk along side people,  please do not feed them.

Pigs – 

The New Forest has domestic pigs turned out of during the Autumn which is called the pannage. Pigs are used to eat the acorns in the Oak forest which can be poisonous to ponies if they over indulge. Keep an eye out driving through the area. You may well come across a similar scene to that below.

– Horse riding –

Riding in the New Forest is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the National Park. With over 3,000 New Forest Ponies roaming the beautiful and varying landscapes, there is lots to see for pony lovers! New Forest Escapes staff are nearly all riders and will give you the low-down, just call us. 

You can enjoy a hack across a variety of landscapes within the forest from rolling heathlands to magical woodlands. Keep an eye out to make sure you can spot the incredible New Forest wildlife. 

The riding and trekking places here are good for intermediate or beginner riders. Burley Manor offers a good option for riding and is right next to our Heather Cottage and very close to The Pig Hotel. 

– Brockenhurst Manor Golf Club –

If golf is your thing, visit Brockenhurst Manor golf course for “an excellent course, stunning scenery and a warm welcome”. To find out more including prices and facilities on offer, please visit – http://www.brokenhurst-manor.org.uk/

– Setley Ridge Farm Shop & Vineyard 

Setley Ridge Vineyard  sells wine which is produced on site, you are welcome to have a FREE taste of these at any time.  They also stock as many different types of local produce as possible, everything from Charcoal to Tea towels and have their own kitchens, with many scrumptious delights to eat.

– New Forest Manor Park show –

North of the village is New Park which is the annual home of the New Forest Show, a traditional agricultural show, held in late July – well worth a visit.

– Spas –

If you fancy a chilled out day to relax and unwind, Brockenhurst has several luxury spas on offer.  There is  Senspa at Careys manor, Saltus spa a Bulmer Lawn, Bath House Spa on Lyndhurst Road, the Spa at New Park Manor, or rhinefield house. .

P.S…. Guests at our Gins Barn and Pitts Deep properties can receive 15% off Midweek spa treatments at Limewood House, in Lyndhurst.

Things to do ..just outside Brockenhurst

– Backwater Arboretum – 

Only a few miles from Brock, This is the best place to experience the majestic Douglas firs and redwoods of the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.  You will find some of the tallest and oldest Douglas fir trees in Britain to wonder at as you stroll along the Tall Trees Trail. Have a go at guessing just how tall these famous trees of the New Forest really are from this shady spot. Walk the Tall Trees Trail, take a picnic and wonder at the majesty of two enormous redwoods visible from the path. Stroll around the Sensory Trail and really experience trees from around the world in the Blackwater Arboretum.

– Lyndhurst-

Full of interesting little shops, restaurants, pubs and grass land.

For all you animal and reptile lovers, a trip to The New Forest Reptile centre is not to be missed.

Feel the sand under your feet….. Brocks Nearest Beaches

You need to travel towards the coast to find your nearest beaches. Head towards Milford on sea or Highcliffe for sandy feet, or take a trip to Lymington for beautiful views of the Lymington river and Solent.

Need a little extra?!  Your wish is our command……

We can arrange…

Photographic safari’s are easily organised with good local experts.

New Forest Escapes work with a great selection of foraging experts, who may also cook what you find at home. Kids in particular will get a kick from eating what they find.

Some History

We all love a little bit of History…..

Brockenhurst means “badgers home” in Celtic – which explains the appearance of a badger on so many Brockenhurst-related insignia.

Brockenhurst lies within the Heritage Area of the New Forest which the European Union is funding work to restore and preserve. The manor house of Brochelie was situated on the plot now occupied by the Watersplash Hotel, its manor extending over the lands to the western side of the A337 Lyndhurst-Lymington Road.

The fourth Saxon manor of the area was Broceste which gives the village its name. It was the most important manor, being a grand-serjeanty held by providing accommodation for the King when hunting in the area.

During the First World War, Brockenhurst played host to the Lady Hardinge Hospital for Wounded Indian Soldiers. Meerut Road’s name recognises the Indian troops of the Meerut and Lahore Divisions who fought on the Western Front in the war and were patients here. It was later taken over by the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital and continued in use until 1919. Auckland Avenue and Auckland Place commemorate the stay of the New Zealanders.