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Insider’s Guide to Sway

Your essential guide to living like-a-local in Sway...

Sway is nestled on the southern edge of the New Forest and surrounded by National Park. It’s just 5 minutes drive west of Brockenhurst, and 3 miles as the crow flies from the georgian town of Lymington and its coastlines.

The village is small, sleepy and renowned for its friendliness. The villages petit ‘high street’ is home to an award-winning butchers, a deli and a couple of much loved, locally owned, pubs.

Sway is second only to nearby Brockenhurst village for seeing the New Forest Ponies and donkeys. Whilst they don’t have free run of the actual village, you’re sure to see them on your daily travels. The New Forest also has domestic pigs which are ‘turned out’ during the Autumn months (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 whilst driving through the area.

Quaint, forest village, dog-friendly, family-friendly... and all together rather lovely -  Sway is just fab for a New Forest escape!

For the foodies...

Sway Butchers – Award winning and renowned in the area for being one of the best butchers, it can be found on the main High Street. They make all sorts of yummy pies and pastries that are perfect for picnics in the forest- or go the whole hog and splash out on some lamb for a Sunday lunch treat!

The Hare and Hounds – This 200 year old coaching inn is now a traditional New Forest, family-run pub. With inside and outside seating areas, there’s also a large children’s play area + dogs are welcome. It sits on the main road towards Brockenhurst, and is perfect for grabbing some food or a drink before/after a long forest walk.

The Silver Hind – The Silver Hind can be found in the centre of Sway. The owners are committed to using locally sourced produce and ales, and serve a range of high quality, fresh, home prepared food.

The Old Mill – Originally an 18th century flour mill, it was operational until just after WW1. The plot has now been renovated into a gastro pub with a smart, chic, and friendly atmosphere. It’s a great spot for a celebration or equally a drink in their sunny gardens.

Setley Ridge Farm Shop & Vineyard – The farm shop at Setley Ridge, sells a range of freshly baked bread, fruit, veg and herbs and a variety of other produce, all sourced from within the New Forest boundary, Hampshire or the Isle of Wight. The popular Vineyard at Setley Ridge produce Red, White and Rose still wines and the occasional English Sparkling. They also offer tours which include a walk and talk around the Vineyard and Winery followed by a wine tasting.

The Pig– Most British foodies 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 restaurant – 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 a 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. They do a great Raw & Cured restaurant. Again, book early.

For seaside strolls...

Milford on sea beach and coastline is just under 4 miles from Sway. Here you’ll find a long shingle beach lined with colourful beach huts. The beach is dog friendly and is a favourite amongst locals for wild swimming, paddle boarding and kite surfing.

For fresh-air-frolics...


Biking in the New Forest is great. Sway village is surrounded by heathland, and there are plenty of 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 Lyndhurst, Burley and Rhinefield. If you do not have your own bikes, Cycle hire is available all year round.

Roadies will love the masses of quiet lanes – there are great ‘Round the Forest’ 50km and 100km rides, well publicised on road-cycling groups. Further information regarding cycling routes can be found here.

Cyclexperience are based in Brockenhurst at the train station– so just hop on the train at Sway for 5 mins or drive by car (also 5 mins away). Not only can you hire from an 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. Our guests get 10% off on midweek cycle hire (not redeemable at Weekends or Bank Holidays).

Sway cycles – Based in the nearby town of Lymington, Sway cycles are experts in foldable electric bikes. These bikes are lightweight, easy to store and enable you to leave the car behind and explore the New Forest in a more scenic and eco- friendly way. The team are offering NFE guests a discount when hiring their ESTARLI folding e-bikes on a multi-day hire basis (3, 5 or 7 days), with free local delivery and collection.

Walking –

The Backwater Arboretum is beautiful. Only a few miles from Sway, 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. 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. Alternatively, park in the heart of Ornamental Drive at the Bolderwood car park to catch a glimpse of the wild deer from the purpose built platform which overlooks a large meadow

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!

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.

Coombe Stables is based in Sway and can be contacted to book in lessons or hacks which suit all abilities.

Check our blog here for more riding details.


If golf is your thing, visit Brokenhurst Manor golf course for “an excellent course, stunning scenery and a warm welcome”. Although the club is primarily a members club, they do welcome visiting golfers at certain times of the day.

For the family...

Jubilee Sports Ground – Sway has a great range of sporting facilities available for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy including tennis courts, football pitches and cricket grounds.

Stanford Rise Green – This is the perfect playground for kids and has been made out of sustainable, local materials. Perfect to keep the kids entertained for a few hours.

Whilst it can get busy, head to Brockenhurst and The Water Splash just opposite The 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 birthday parties or beach treasure hunts. Or my favourite, Swallows and Amazons days out on nearby beaches.

Did you know..?

  1. The village is best known for Sway Tower (also known as Peterson’s Folly) – a 200 ft tall tower built entirely out of concrete. Even today Sway Tower remains the tallest structure built out of non-reinforced concrete in the world.

  2. Described by their own vicar as ‘little better than bandits’; a few hundred years ago, residents of Sway used to help smugglers to store their contraband on its travels up the coast towards Beaulieu! … nowadays we can assure you that you’ll find a lovely lot of law-abiding citizens!

Getting here...

There is a main line train station in Sway. Fast trains (under 2 hours) come to Brockenhurst which is the next station toward London. Trains often do a rural/slower stop pattern after Brock’ and many stop here at Sway. If you get the train from Bournemouth it will take you about 8 minutes. London Waterloo is about 2 hours.

If you want a scenic drive in the area, jump on one of the open top buses with New Forest Tours. They offer 3 routes around the New Forest in the summer months, and their tickets allow you to hop on/ off wherever you like or switch between routes, all on the same ticket. Plus bikes go free!