With international travel still off the cards, Wersha Bharadwa makes a case for a honeymoon within the New Forest.
Leave passport worries for later; the south coast’s New Forest National Park is brimming with adventure and romance for an unforgettable UK minimoon. From crowd-free beaches to cosy nights in romantic country farmhouses, here are just some of the reasons you should consider a honeymoon in the New Forest.
1. The New Forest National Park’s Natural Beauty
Since we’ve all emerged as a nation of forest bathers, where better to immerse the senses than in 220 square miles of the New Forest National Park? Featuring unsurpassed pink and purple heather-blanketed plains laced with streams, bogs and mires, the opportunities for gentle trails and romantic hikes are endless.
See the charmingly famous free-roaming ponies (there are more than 6,000) but also fallow, Muntjac, Sika and a few hundred donkeys. Take a picnic from September to November and you’ll spot pigs and cattle too. With so many immune-boosting elements working in your favour, you’ll emerge energised and happier.
2. Picture Perfect Cycling Routes
Ride past dazzling bluebell meadows at dawn then switch over to a romantic tandem bike at dusk. Not a hugely confident cyclist? Don’t fret, the 100 miles of designated tracks are relatively flat, with very few hills and it’s all traffic-free.
3. Cosying up in a Canoe
Hire a guide via New Forest Activities to lead you down the Beaulieu River in a two-seater Canadian canoe. You’ll glide past hidden creeks and swanky multimillion pound mansions before paddling into the reed-lined channels of Keyhaven Nature Reserve. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the river’s resident seals pop up and clown around for some added entertainment. Later, be sure to spend some time tip-toeing through a nearby primeval forest with 1000-year old Oaks.
4. Crowd-Free Beaches
Opting for a Honeymoon in the New Forest National Park means you’re also just a few steps away from some of the UK’s prettiest shorelines. Shingled Barton-On-Sea offers sleepy stretches and panoramic views to the Isle of Wight. After paddle boarding and surfing, a scenic walk from sandy Milford-On-Sea leads to Hurst Castle (a 16th Century fort). Highcliffe Beach is good for sunbathing at low tide and Hythe has Britain’s longest pier.
5. Top-Notch New Forest Cuisine
The concept is easy at Verveine; you let the staff know what you don’t like and how many courses you fancy and Chef David Wykes conjures up faultless tapestries from the land and sea for you. Tiger prawns with home-smoked duck arrive under smoke filled cloches, carrots are cooked in coffee butter, ice cream is made from smoked milk and sweets arrive in edible wrapping.
TV’s Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder have a popular Anglo-Italian inspired menu at Hartnett Holder & Co inside Lime Wood Hotel near Lyndhurst and James Golding at The Pig in Brockenhurst sources every item on the menu within a 25-mile radius, starting with the kitchen garden. He serves mouth-watering gems such as saddleback crackling & apple sauce, sticky lamb belly with lentils and handsomely dressed crab.
6. The Variety of Romantic Boltholes or Quaint and Cosy Farmhouses
For an ultra-private honeymoon, visit New Forest Cottages (the area’s largest cottage provider) for more than 140 unique romantic hideaways and large country homes. 18th century Hangar Farmhouse sleeps eight and is also a great base for hens or family-mooners, and offers a warm welcome inside with various spaces for relaxing and outdoor entertaining (there’s a brick pizza oven, BBQ and overhead outdoor heaters). There’s also an overflowing food hamper welcome pack.
Five-star, detached Clobb Copse Cottage sits two miles from picturesque Beaulieu and has plush interiors and crisp cotton sheets on cloud-like beds you won’t want to stray far from.