Only two hours from London, the New Forest is the go-to weekend getaway of stylish wanderers. Life moves at a leisurely, countryside pace here with charming villages, like Burley, Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst.

We headed to the New Forest with New Forest Escapes as we knew this area had something to offer the whole family. The forest is a living and working place where ponies, donkeys and cattle freely graze the land and help to keep the patchwork of different habitats intact. Adults and children can enjoy exploring the forest on a walk or cycling, with many routes all-round the area. With a whole variety of activities there is something for all tastes.

The area offers fantastic days out including the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park (we have done a few times!) and much more. We knew we probably wouldn’t have time to get around to it all, however, the one thing we were really looking forward, which was to simply explore the forest.

Simple pleasures at its best and not an iPad in sight! Well…for 48 hours at least.

We travelled down on the Friday evening. It took us around 2.5 hours door to door and as we had arrived in the dark, navigating our way to find the cottage, nestled in the heart of the New Forest was our first challenge.

As I followed the sat nav (as you do) which took me down a single track, which I then had to reverse all the way back out of. Deep Joy. The kids were not helping by saying “mummy, you really don’t know where you are going do you?” or “you should ring daddy. He will know what to do”. Thanks for the vote of confidence kids.

Determined not to be defeated, ten minutes later, we found the cottage. Hurrah! If I had re-read the arrival instructions properly, it had very kindly notified me not to follow the sat nav as it would take us down a single track. Whoops. At least New Forest Escapes had that covered, even if I didn’t.

We were staying in a sensitively restored, traditional cottage called Sunnydell, nestled in the village of Burley. This traditional village set in the heart of the New Forest offers everything you might expect including, tea rooms, gift shops, art galleries, ponies on the side of the road and even a cider farm! As we were only here for the weekend, we wanted to pack in as much as we could, without wearing ourselves out, so this blog tells you some of the things we enjoyed the most.

Sunnydell is a pet friendly holiday cottage rental with 3 bedrooms, including 1 double, 1 twin and a further single room with space for a cot. The cottage itself is over 250 years old and has been decorated in a home-from-home style. The outdoor converted stables have been beautifully decorated to a very high standard, which has a further double bedroom, shower room, lounge as well as a fully equipped playroom full of toys. The outdoor pool is heated to 25-26 C from approx. mid-June to mid Sept – start and end dates vary depending on the weather.

On arrival, we made our way into the kitchen where we found a welcome gift for both the children. They were so excited! This included a Toucan Box full of craft ideas and toys to keep them entertained. This was worth its weight in gold. They played with all the items of their bag for about an hour, which was amazing, as it meant I could unload the car and pack away their things. A great idea and the personal touch from New Forest Escapes!

The kids scurried upstairs to find their bedroom (always the best bit!) and they settled amazingly well, considering the excitement. I poured myself a glass of wine and lit the fire.

On Saturday morning we woke excitedly to enjoy the wonders of the cottage. My daughter has noticed the cottage had left a set of keys with a torch attached that said ‘playroom’. “where’s the playroom?” she enquired and off they scurried into the garden to explore. The playroom was in the renovated stables located in the secure garden. They opened the playroom with their key to unlock a world of fun to fuel their imaginations. Don’t kids just always love someone else’s toys?

We went for our first forest walk (the New Forest has more than 140 miles of walking paths) to find some dens and roaming free ponies, before we drove on to New Milton. Here, we picked up some fresh produce in the farmers’ market for dinner. We then waited at the train station to collect my husband, who was travelling down from work in London to join us.


We drove the short distance to Christchurch for lunch. We found a family friendly restaurant will a cool, relaxed vibe called James & White. The staff were incredibly helpful, great with the kids. The food was delicious and I would highly recommend the sticky beef salad or the fish bucket.

To walk off the lunch, we headed across to Christchurch quay to look at the boats, feed the ducks and a play on the adventure playground and pirate ship located there.

Avon Beach

We explored Avon Beach where we enjoyed some sea air. It was glorious. I remembered I had packed a rugby ball in the back of the car, so we played tag rugby on the sandy beach. Although, I’m sure it was just an excuse for my husband to rugby tackle his wife to the ground! I attempted to score a try, which didn’t go as expected and I face-planted into the sand. I prayed no one noticed.

Sunday was our last day, so we headed out for a forest walk to blow the cobwebs away one final time. The colours of the forest were gorgeous and it was so nice to see the kids happy exploring. We then packed up the car and headed home. We drove along the coastal road back towards Sussex and stopped in a country pub for a Sunday lunch. It rounded off a thoroughly relaxing weekend. The whole weekend just flew by so quickly but we had a great time. It was the perfect mix of family time and exploration and I’m sure we will be back very soon.

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