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River Walks and Fine Dining in the New Forest

6th Aug 2019

The beautiful New Forest National Park is abundant with walking routes and trails to explore but have you discovered its beautiful river walks?


Beaulieu River

Just a stone throw from our New Forest Hotel is one of our favourite New Forest activities, the Beaulieu River walk. Following the Beaulieu River, this trail forms part of the Solent Way and takes you all the way to the unique haven of Buckler’s Hard. The walk is a special one; approximately 2 ¼ miles one way, as it takes you on a wonderful transitional journey from woodland to saltmarsh, with the chance to spot a variety of plant and bird species on the way.

Serene and peaceful, whilst you are there why not take to the water for another popular New Forest activity, a river cruise, where you will enjoy ‘a peaceful 30-minute boat trip along one of the few privately owned rivers in the world.’

If you are in need of a little sustenance for the journey back, what could be more perfect than a picnic beside the river? At our beautiful country hotel in Beaulieu we understand how special it can be to enjoy spontaneous moments. When you have a picnic packed you can stop and enjoy the views from anywhere you choose, so let us make it extra special with a luxury picnic hamper, complete with delicious homemade delicacies, crockery, cutlery – and that all important picnic blanket. Choose between the luxury picnic, a true al fresco feast or a traditional afternoon tea picnic, full of sumptuous goodies and of course, speciality tea.

Beaulieu River picnic spot

Lymington River

For an alternative New Forest activity visit the quaint coastal town of Lymington. Sitting on the bank of the Lymington River, today this pretty town is a yachting hub, popular for its three marinas and rich maritime history. 

There are many ways to enjoy the Lymington River and the surrounding water ways; whether you seek sights of wildlife or simply want to set out for a good walk. 

For wildlife, visit the Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes Local Nature Reserve, found between the towns of Lymington and Keyhaven. The area spans 500 acres and is a wonderful place to wander and stroll around for bird and wildlife watching.

Or perhaps you are eager for a more energetic New Forest activity? We have just the thing...

Enjoy a rewarding 10-mile walk that takes you from the doorstep of our New Forest Hotel to the historic town of Lymington. You will certainly have an appetite for dinner after this walk and Head Chef Matthew Whitfield has some exceptional dishes to lure you back with.

This hike starts from our very own village of Beaulieu, passes through Buckler’s Hard and continues along the Beaulieu River, following the Solent Way before crossing the Lymington River and into the pretty town of Lymington itself.

Walk the cobbled streets, find a spot for lunch and simply relax, and if that is enough walking for one day, try the New Forest Tour bus to get back to Beaulieu, you may even want to hop on and off wherever you please to continue exploring our beautiful New Forest National Park.

NFS Bus Tour

River Itchen

At the edge of the New Forest National Park, the River Itchen’s crystal-clear water winds its way to the Solent. Running from the centre of Hampshire to the old capital city, Winchester, there are plenty of pathways that will take you along the River Itchen, but one walk that is truly unique, is the Keats Walk.

Start in the centre of Winchester near King Alfred’s statue and follow in the footsteps of the great English poet, John Keats. Walk the same route he took daily during his stay in Winchester and see the sights that inspired one of his most famous works, ‘To Autumn’.

The River Itchen along with the Test are ‘the two most iconic chalkstreams in the world and is the spiritual home of upstream fly fishing for trout’. In his book Life of a Chalkstream, Simon Cooper explains just what makes the River Itchen so special:

“Ninety-five per cent of the planet’s supply of pure chalkstream water exists only in southern England.  The water in the river today fell as rain miles to the north six months ago, was deep underground yesterday and will be in the English Channel in a few hours, a cycle that has been repeating for tens of thousands of years”. 

Montagu Arms Picnic

Matthew Whitfield’s summer menu

Staying true to sourcing responsibly and supporting local producers, Matthew Whitfield’s menu features as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, including the extra special Chalkstream Trout which Matt has perfectly paired with Hampshire Watercress, Toasted Almonds, Beurre Blanc and Lemon’.

As always, the delectable menu honours our very own kitchen garden with seasonal ‘Terrace Garden Vegetables’ and also features local Hampshire Beef, beautifully paired with ‘Beer Braised Onions, and Pickled Walnut’.

If that is not enough to tempt your taste buds, the dessert menu certainly will, with an indulgent selection including a Seville Orange Soufflé with Bitter Dark Chocolate Ice Cream and Roasted Passe Crassane Pear with Fig Leaf Ice Cream, Cheesecake Mousse and Crispy Ginger Arlette.

The Terrace Beef Dish

Ready to get away for river walks and fine dining? Book your stay and experience the best New Forest activities and sample the summer menu, proudly inspired by and served in Hampshire.



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