New Forest – 25th - 28th September 2023

Six of us (Ken, Richard, Cathy, Eileen, Louise & Marion) went youth (age is just a number) hostelling in Burley, Hampshire, organised by Eileen. Some of us availed ourselves of the unlimited breakfasts, including liberating fruit for the walks. Two opted for DIY breakfasts.

We travelled down in two cars and met up at the Shappen Café in Burley for a nice lunch, marred slightly by a few wasps which wanted a share of a cream tea. You do however have to give way to horses which saunter down the village streets.

efog new forest ponies cPonies in the New ForestWe then drove down to Bournemouth where some went in the Upside Down House and on the Observation Wheel then we all sauntered down the pier.

Whilst looking at the menu outside an Italian restaurant one customer dashed out and enthused over how wonderful the food was, she just seemed too over enthusiastic and we wondered if she was actually employed by the restaurant. So, after a lovely meal in a Thai restaurant we returned to Burley and the Youth Hostel.

Tuesday during breakfast, the rain came down in torrents, but by the time we were ready to leave it had blown over and we ended up with a lovely 8.5 mile circular walk from Whitemoor Car Park up to the Tall Trees Trail where we ate our sandwiches, then past Rhinefield House and back to the car park. It was a pleasant mix of forest and heath sometimes walking alongside streams, though at one point a massive puddle on a bridge over a stream made it feel like we were almost in the stream.

That evening we ate at the White Buck Inn just a stroll down from the Hostel. We were allocated seats at a rather sticky table, then had a long wait for our orders to be taken and an even longer wait for the food, which was OK, but nothing outstanding given the price and wait. The wines were also slightly expensive, but that’s another story.

efog new forest cottage in brook cA cottage in the village of BrookOn Wednesday we drove to the Rufus Stone (site of the death of William the Conqueror’s son in a hunting accident) from there we had a 5.5 mile walk up to Brook, where we stopped at the Green Dragon for refreshments and saw picturesque thatched cottages. Then back down to the Rufus Stone on the way we saw a couple of deer cross our path in the woods.

Although both walks were taken from a book and so were pre-walked, the directions sometimes left a bit to be desired leaving us at Much Dithering on the Moor. One was ‘turn right at the water tower’. You’d think that would be easy to spot even with all the trees, but we saw no sign of it.

A good map and compass or sometimes even google maps helps keep you on track.

In the evening we had an excellent meal at the Burley Inn. Service was quite a contrast to the night before.

On the drive back we stopped off at The Vyne (National Trust) near Basingstoke where we experienced a variety of guides – one outside and others in the rooms - giving us some of the history. We also had a pleasant stroll through the attached woods.

We slightly misjudged our leaving time so hit rush hour or worse round the M25/A406 and took 4 hours from The Vyne, but otherwise a good time was had by all.

Richard.   6th October 2023