Sunday we took it easy, got some lunch at King and Queen in nearby East Malling, and Blair gave his guitar lesson in the afternoon. We tried to get to bed as early as three night owls can and headed out Monday morning in the direction of New Forest.
The drive started out pretty slow as we headed towards London but we had Chewbacca to keep us company and lots of great music between us. Once we were on a roll and traffic was moving smoothly it seemed like no time before we came to what was clearly the start of a really beautiful part of the country.
New Forest is a rather large area in Southwest England comprised of National Forest, free range pasturing, lots of hiking, biking and riding trails, picnic areas, villages, docks and a great shoreline with a stunning view of the Isle of Wight. The rolling grazeland in the area is known for its free range ponies, donkeys, cows, mules and whatever else might be smart enough to stay out of the road. I looked forward to seeing animals roam freely in a country so old and well established. Overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much open land there is in the UK, but that’s why I love to travel, to learn about places and people and redraw my own internal world map. No one ever known much of anything about anywhere unless they visit.
Almost as soon as we came into New Forest we found a country road to explore with just a little ways down that, a trail with several ponies next to it in an open field. They weren’t particularly excited about people but weren’t annoyed either so of course we took as many photos as possible from a safe distance and enjoyed stretching our legs, breathing clean air (although horse scented) and taking in the green, undeveloped surroundings.
We drove down several country roads headed towards the coast, starting from the town of Ringwood and going Southwest, deeper into New Forest. We started to see lots of parks where hikers, bikers and campers were parked and decided it was a good time to eat our packed lunch. We pulled into Anderwood Park, a forested park with an open field where we ate our food – next to what appeared to be a werewolf den. After we were sufficiently full of donuts, bagels and soda, we drove through the village of Lyndhurst, a quaint little place with a huge park filled with ponies and a steep grassy hill with an ancient looking tree at the top.
From there we headed south towards the coast through the town of Lymington and strolled down Quay Hill to the Marina. Quay Hill is a classic little brick street lined with shops selling nautical collectibles and leading to the Ship Inn, a yacht pub right on the marina. Without any shoppers or tourists, it’s a great place for a photo of an English fishing village street and the Marina was filled with interesting boats, sea birds, with an occasional rowboat or canoer passing by.
When we had our fill of villages we found a road that took us past the ruins of an old farm and more wild ponies, onward to a private sea front view of the Isle of Wight. We hung around for a while before our drive to Bournemouth, appreciating the bent trees and cold sea air. A win surfer came ashore and two “metal-detector clad treasure hunters” wandered slowly on the wet clay beach but it was otherwise it was a nice quiet ending to a long day.
We didn’t have internet so we somehow found a Travel Lodge in Bournemouth, which was unfortunately a terrible and expensive room with holes in the wall, springy beds, no soaps of any kind and a shower head that pops off as soon as you turn the water on. After we packed our things into the room we went next door and got a beer, then, sleep and an early morning to start it all over again!