We have decided to go to the New Forest after seeing an episode of Location Location on TV. Created by William the Conquerer in the 11th century and called the New Forest it is not really that new. We were taken in by the fact that people are required to live in harmony with herds of undomesticated horses donkeys and cattle.
As usual the day is not looking to flash. Grey skies and cool breezes are the order of the day. It takes about one and a half hours to drive to Lyndhurst the largest settlement in the New Forest. We went to the information centre grabbed all the leaflets we could and went off to develop our plan. First of all we took a walk through the village and although it appeared charming when boiled down it was mostly coffee shops and a Ferrari and /Maserati dealership. Oh there is a notable grave in the church yard. Alice Liddel is buried there. Alice was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
Our plan was to drive to Beaulieu then to another small village which was formerly a smugglers den then onto to Lymington and finish the day in Poole. We set off for Beaulieu hoping to catch a glimpse of the roaming horses, donkeys and cattle. We weren’t disappointed and Kerry even befriended one. Even in Beaulieu the animals had the run of the street. Again the village appeared old and quaint but was largely designed for tourism. Even worse still was Buckler’s Hard. If it was a village then it has been taken over by commercial interests as we could not enter the village without paying an entrance fee.
Next stop Lymington but somehow we got distracted and ended up in Keyhaven looking for Hurst Castle the last prison for Charles I. The castle was built by Henry VIII as part of his coastal defences in the late 16th century. Built for the age of gunpowder it is a low profile with a central keep and external walls in the shape of a clover with defensive towers on four sides. The castle was extended in both WW1 and WW2 and used in both conflicts.
It stands at the end of a remarkable peninsular of pebbles (another tombolo). It is one and a half miles from the carpark and if you miss the ferry (as we did) you can add another half a mile for the trip from the ferry terminal to the foot of the pebble sea wall. Well we walked the sea wall whilst the wind blew and the sky was blanked out by the sea mist. In fact we could not see the castle for most of our journey. The pebbles were hard work to walk on but we both enjoyed the exercise. We missed the ferry at 2.20pm and managed to walk to the castle in time to see the 3.00pm ferry departing.
Inside the castle there are two distinct parts – the Tudor castle and the modern extension. Large Georgian canon stand alongside modern Bofors guns. There is a display on the lighthouse nearby and wartime memorabilia. One of the most remarkable things is the memorial to all people who served in the castle between 1544 and 1955. We caught the boat back to the ferry terminal and picked up the car.
We then drove to Poole which did not excite us at all so we headed for home and dinner at Westers Bar.