THINGS TO DO IN THE NEW FOREST
For lovers of the great outdoors there are endless options, including bike trails, coastal hikes, forest pathways and watersports galore – and if you want to go further afield, you can be on the Isle of Wight in an hour. You’ll never run out of things to do, whether you’re entertaining restless youngsters, looking for a relaxing stroll around a local landmark or keen to discover some of the area’s hidden gems.
New Forest Wildlife Park
A 25-minute drive will take you to the New Forest Wildlife Park – the start of a journey into the glorious world of the New Forest woodland, with insight into conservation and a wonderful range of wildlife in residence. With over 260 animals from 40 species to look out for, the Park’s seamlessly designed trail offers a fascinating journey through nature. A highlight is the chance to observe four species of otter - from the smallest Asian short claw otter to the endangered giant otter from the Amazon – with their new enclosure including underwater viewing that’s perfect for observing their elegant aquatic style.
Keep your eyes peeled as you follow the one-way trail through the woodland! Roaming deer and tiny mice, wallabies, Scottish wildcats and even wolves, lynx and the impressive Eurasian bison are just some of the characters you could spy through the trees.
Part of the fun of visiting Hurst Castle is getting there. It’s a 20-minute drive and just a little longer by bike from Elmers Court to Keyhaven where you can park up and get the ferry to the castle. You’ll enjoy a lovely, scenic ride, with the Keyhaven River and marshes home to a fantastic range of wildlife and habitat and plenty to spot on the 15-minute journey across. Ferry tickets can only be purchased on the day, either on board or at a kiosk by the castle entrance.
From the top of the Tudor Keep, the view across the Needles Passage to the Isle of Wight is stunning. This is also the best place to see and understand the layout of the whole castle, which retains much of its 16th century appearance. The castle was modernised in the 19th century and unusually for a Tudor castle, it remained in military use until 1956, playing an active role through both world wars.
Longdown Activity Farm
Young animal-lovers will be in their element at Longdown Activity Farm and there’s plenty to get involved in. The daily schedule offers a range of interactive encounters including kid goat and calf bottle-feeding, duck feeding, and meeting small, friendly farm animals in the Animal Encounter Experience.
Cows, ponies, donkeys, alpacas, pigs, goats, chickens and ducks are all part of the family and there are free tractor and trailer rides, too. Muck in and have fun in the Piglets Play Barn where pig-themed play is the order of the day and if your clan wants more, there are all sorts of outdoor activities including trampolines, Pitch and Putt and a large outdoor play area. You’re just 25 minutes by car from the hotel so within easy reach of base camp if the fresh air and excitement all becomes too much!