If you’ve always wanted to celebrate a summer solstice but couldn’t face the Stonehenge schlepp, then may we make a suggestion?
Come and celebrate this magical moment in the calendar year, when the night is at its shortest and the day is at its longest, in the New Forest.
Why? Well, we’re not short of spots where you’ll get an uninterrupted view. We’ve also got some great places to stay, if you want to make a real occasion of it and why wouldn’t you, given that this time only occurs once every year, when the north pole tilts towards the sun, heralding the start of our astronomical summer.
So, here’s what you need to know.
The Time. Summer solstice takes place on Wednesday June 21 this year at 3.57am. So, you’ll need to plan your campaign and then set your alarm accordingly. Alternatively, you can just pull a very late nighter and stay up to watch the dawn!
- Piper’s Wait. Located near Nomansland and Bramshaw in the forest’s north, at 140 metres, this is officially the New Forest’s highest hill and therefore the perfect place to watch the summer sun rise majestically over the horizon. Easy to find, with its own car-park, you’ll be able to take in views to Watership Down in the north east, as well as Danebury Hillfort near Andover, and the Isle of Wight
- Telegraph Hill. Also near Bramshaw, this hill is a great bet for solstice-spotters because it got its name after it was chosen as the site for a 19th century signalling or shutter site, to convey military messages during the Napoleonic wars. The shutter is long gone but the fantastic view remains.
- Bolton’s Bench. If you don’t fancy a huge trek up a hillside, this little hump of a hill, in Lyndhurst as you come in from Ashurst, is a great place to witness the summer dawn, if you don’t want to trek for miles.
- Castle Hill. The castle referred to near Godshill is believed to have been built in 1148 on the site of an earlier Iron Age hill fort. The earthwork ring and bailey remain and there is a car-park nearby.
- The Huff Duff. Originally home to a war-time High Frequency Direction Finding station HF/DF – hence its name – this hill, in the forest’s northern commons, offers spectacular views and a great chance of seeing that solstice sun
The Afters (or Befores!). You may be coming here just for a few hours to enjoy the sunrise. But, if not, why not consider staying for a couple of nights amongst the great outdoors? We have some of the best campsites in England, hidden away in the Forest.
The Big Breakfast. Finally, when it’s all over, you’re going to have worked up quite an appetite. So why not give into the wonderful feeling and book yourself into one of our excellent cafes or tearooms for a New Forest Breakfast?
Our breakfasts are legendary, with most made up of incredible local produce. Take your pick from amazing locations, including Farmyard Café at Hockey’s Farm near Ringwood and Steff’s Kitchen at Beaulieu. Don’t forget that many of our country pubs and hotels do breakfast too.
Finally. When you’ve seen the solstice, don’t forget to tag us in Instagram or your other social channels at @thenewforestuk – we’d love to see your pictures of this special time of the year!