Insider Guide to Sway

Sway is a quiet little village surrounded by National Park. It’s just 5 minutes drive west of Brockenhurst- one of the most popular villages in the New Forest area. The main difference between the two is that in Brock’ the animals have free access and can be seen wandering up the High Street. In Sway there are cattle grids keeping them to the main heathland areas.

The village has a train station – just one further on than Brock’. This is a big draw. You can get to London in 2 hours (more below).

We love that the village has an epic and unusual butcher – Sway Butchers are well known and sell a good selection of vegan/veggie and ready meals amongst their top notch meat. There is a great local store, a pharmacy for nappies/calpol and other family essentials, a convenience store, a tiny café, and even an exhibition space at SpudWorks who have done some really fabulous, large scale environmental exhibitions around the forest.

Fun Fact: 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.

Getting Here

Sway village is 10 minutes drive north of Lymington. 

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. 

What to do in Sway…

SpudWorks

A space with artist studios and a small gallery in the heart of Sway. Free to pop by and have a look- visitors are welcomed, and the residents are happy to talk about any upcoming exhibitions or projects.

 

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!

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 all very sustainable made out of local materials by the locals. Perfect to keep the kids entertained for a few hours.

 

Local Pubs

The Hare and Hound

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 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 is local inn and restaurant that can be found in the centre of the New Forest village 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 area is lovely for many reasons. Our absolute favourites are listed for you below.

Cycling

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. 

Read our blog by Phil, a local keen cyclist here.

Cycle hire:

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). They 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 Ornamental Drive is beautiful. There are good parking spots – short, long and mostly flat walks out into the forest are superb from here. Cream teas at Rhinefield House Hotel, are 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 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 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 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. 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.  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

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 aboutCatching Unicorns– great for birthday parties.
Orbeach treasure hunts. Or my favourite,Swallows and Amazons days outon nearby beaches (with important preparation including watching Ray Mears series on TV for lots of Sunday evenings before your stay).

New Forest Animals

Sway is second only to Brockenhurst for seeing the New Forest Ponies and donkeys. Whilst they don’t have free run of the actual village, the village is surrounded by National Park and you’re sure to see them on your daily travels.  Be careful if driving and keep a look out for animals crossing!  Although these animals are confident and happy to walk alongside people, please do not feed them.

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!  

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. Coombe Stables is based in Sway and has recently re-opened- check out the link here.

Check our blog here for more riding details.

Golf

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

Detour a mile off the main road to Brock, and you’ll find 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 Brockenhurst on the main road to Lyndhurst 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- website here.

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 at Balmer Lawn, Bath House Spa on Lyndhurst Road, the Spa at New Park Manor, or Rhinefield house. In the opposite direction outside Highcliffe is Chewton Glen, which is very well known for its gorgeous spa and dining options.

Chewton Glen

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 is 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….. 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?!

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.

Or fancy an Iconic Swim? Read here about Angus McChesney wild swimming adventures that he organises around the Needles