New Forest

A Guide to Brockenhurst, The New Forest

Considered to be one of the most beautiful places to live in Britain, Brockenhurst in the New Forest is a fairy-tale village. Set in the heart of the National Park between the port town of Lymington and the New Forest’s ‘capital’ of Lyndhurst, it is surrounded by ancient woodland and shared by a whole host of wonderful four-legged residents including ponies, deer, donkeys, cows and pigs. Needless to say, its unique atmosphere, setting and appeal exude a rare kind of romance and charm that always keeps us coming back for more. 

Beaulieu near the village of Brockenhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire

Brockenhurst, or “Brock” as it is known by locals, is a real highlight of the New Forest. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, signs of human life here date back 4,000 years and the area is peppered with ancient burial mounds. Today, its attractive red-brick buildings date back to the 17th and 18th Century and the whole village exudes an other-worldly feel, as if the cocoon of the forest has protected it from the rest of the world. Surrounded by open common land, ancient woodland and coarse heaths, it has an ethereal air, made all the more dream-like by the village’s four-legged residents who graze its land and wander its streets.

The kind of place that has branched off from the rest of the world (though still easily accessible), Brockenhurst makes for the most idyllic holiday destination. Along its streets, a wealth of independent stores sit alongside high street chains, while wild ponies take shelter in its doorways and deer drink from its streams. Allowing you to kick back and relax or head out and explore, it boasts access to endless walks and cycle trails, while the village itself boasts a number of great eateries and pubs that’ll encourage you to slow the pace after a day of adventuring. 

A New Forest pony walking through woodland - a common sight around Brockenhurst and in the New Forest

With so much to see and do, a holiday in Brockenhurst could easily spill over your allocated time (and you’ll often be tempted to stay). So, to help you enjoy the best holiday in the area, we’ve put together a must-read guide to Brockenhurst filled with local top-tips and unmissable attractions. Here we go. 

Shopping 

Delving into the picturesque streets of Brockenhurst, you’ll find a wealth of shops with a local focus. Along Brookley Road, the main high street, just some of the stores selling local goods and produce include a baker, butcher and greengrocer. There’s also a florist, sweet shop, farm shop and vineyard all within the village, so you’re never short of new taste sensations. Springing up at certain times throughout the year, a market is also held in Brockenhurst’s village hall. Generally, these are held on the first Sunday of every month and are well visiting for the superb array of local produce, delicious food and handmade crafts. 

Tall trees in the ancient woodland areas of the New Forest in Hampshire

Places to Eat and Drink

All celebrating the area, a great local butcher, baker and veg store sell fresh goods and produce in the village, while a wide range of eateries serve up plates of flavour-popping goodness. From British to Italian to Thai restaurants and more, you can find the right style to exactly hit the spot. Of course, there’s also a number of eateries focusing on flavours of the New Forest and surrounds, including the Michelin-recommend Pig restaurant on Beaulieu Road in Brockenhurst. Set within a wisteria-clad manor house, this restaurant follows a philosophy of bringing nature indoors and its dishes’ ingredients are grown, foraged or sourced from within a 25-mile radius wherever possible.

Attractions

Beaulieu National Motor Museum 

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is one of the most popular attractions in Hampshire and beyond. Showcasing an impressive collection of vehicles and motoring memorabilia, it is somewhere that will appeal to all generations. From world-famous racing and world record-breaking cars to vintage motoring film and video to miniatures and models, the varied collections and displays comprise around 1.7 million items and provide a detailed window into British motoring history.

A view of the dining room inside Beaulieu Palace House near Brockenhurst in the New Forest

Beaulieu House and Abbey

One of the first public historic houses, the 13th Century Palace House was originally the gatehouse of the Medieval Beaulieu Abbey. Enjoy an exploration of the house led by costumed guides and learn all about life inside Beaulieu House (home of the Montagu family since 1538). Later, you can also wander the estate’s dog-friendly grounds and see the picturesque mill pond, Victorian garden, themed topiary, and the remains of the 800-year-old Cistercian abbey. 

Buckler’s Hard

Buckler’s Hard is an extensive open-air museum situated on the banks of the Beaulieu River. A virtually unspoilt 18th Century shipbuilding village, it is home to a maritime museum, shipwright’s cottage and workshop and lots of family-friendly activities. It also has strong connections with Sir Francis Chichester, who in 1966 set sail from Buckler’s Hard harbour in his sailing yacht, the Gipsy Moth IV, to become the first person to single-handedly sail around the globe. 

A view of trees in Blackwater Arboretum, a densely wooded area near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire

Blackwater Arboretum

Just 3 miles from Brockenhurst is Blackwater Arboretum, an adumbral haven knitted with trees from all over the world. Among the park’s collection are towering Douglas firs and redwoods – some of the tallest and oldest in the country. Planted during the reign of Queen Victoria, these giant trees can be seen along the Tall Trees Trail, a 1.5-mile route along a relatively smooth gravel path. There’s also the Sensory Trail, a 1.5-mile loop peppered with tactile sculptures.

Things to Do in Brockenhurst

Walking and Cycling 

Brockenhurst takes pride of place in the heart of the National Park and is surrounded by ancient woodland – woodland which both shields it from the rest of the world and shelters all kinds of wonderful residents from humans to wild ponies. For walkers and cyclists, it’s a real paradise and there are all kinds of brilliant routes that you can follow from Brockenhurst and beyond. A particularly recommended route takes you 9 miles along Castleman’s Corkscrew, a disused railway line starting at Brockenhurst’s railway station and finishing at Burley village.

A dog in lavender fields during a walk near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire

Brockenhurst Riding Stables

A wonderful way to explore the New Forest and its harder-to-reach trails is on horseback. Whether you’re an experienced rider or would like to have a go for the first time, you can enjoy a 1- or 2-hour riding experience with Brockenhurst Riding Stables. A great family-friendly activity, horse riding with the stables allows you to relish a whole new perspective of the forest and also see the wild ponies and other animals who live in the forest, all the while guided by experienced handlers.

Brockenhurst Golf Course

If you would like to immerse yourself in the New Forest outdoors, then partaking in a round of golf is a brilliant way to do so. Within putting distance of the town centre is Brockenhurst Manor Golf Club, which boasts an immaculate 18-hole golf course. Open to members and visitors alike, this club extends a warm welcome to all those visit and offers a superb course set within stunning scenery. There is also a restaurant and bar open in the club house. 

Ponies at sunset on misty heath near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, Hampshire

Setley Ridge Farm Shop & Vineyard  

Located on the outer reaches of Brockenhurst, Setley Ridge is home to a superb farm shop and vineyard. To make your visit extra delicious, why not consider signing up for a vineyard and winery tour? Available by appointment, these tours include a leisurely meander around the sun-soaked vineyard and a much-anticipated wine tasting session. Taking around 60 to 90 minutes in total, this is a great one to enjoy with fellow vino fans. 

Brockenhurst Festivals

There are a number of festivals that take place throughout the year in Brockenhurst which are well worth factoring into your holiday itinerary. Of the most famous is the three-day New Forest Show which takes place at Brockenhurst’s showground in July and thrills visitors with countless attractions over 30 acres of showground. In June, you can look forward to the village’s Smoked and Uncut mini music festival held at the Pig, while in August the most hotly anticipated event comes in the form of Beaulieu’s Supercar Weekend (with around 900 cars on display).

Feeling inspired? Have a peruse of our luxury cottages in Brockenhurst here.

 

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