There can’t be many people who don’t know that being by water – the so-called Blue Mind effect – is super-beneficial to our wellbeing.
Given the recent heatwave – with promises of more to come – isn’t it time you decided to reconnect with water and enjoy all the wonderful things it gives us?
We think (but we admit we’re a little biased!) that the magical New Forest is the perfect place to do this.
Why? Because, although we’re famous for being a forest, we’ve been connected to the Solent for millennia.
Our 40 or so miles of peaceful beaches, tranquil shorelines and bathing spots – some so natural, the trees come down to the sand – are one of the UK’s best-kept destination secrets. And then there’s the beautiful streams, rivers and lakes that splash across the New Forest’s map.
We’re a watersports paradise, with paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and even wakeboarding available, along with instruction and equipment hire from trusted adventure providers.
So, if you’re looking to reconnect with water, here’s a few fantastic suggestions!
Start with a paddle in the Solent – perhaps at the tiny Tanners Beach near Lymington or at Milford on Sea or Barton on Sea.
Calshot beach is on the New Forest’s most easterly tip and a real secret spot, too. The shingle shoreline is set against the backdrop of trees and jolly beach huts.
If you like your beaches to be as wild as possible, steal along to Lepe Country Park, which has over a mile of shoreline and pine fringed cliffs with spectacular views across the Solent. Historic D-Day remains, wildflower meadows and a children's play area can also be found here, along with an excellent café for a bite of something tasty when you’ve finished. Plus it’s a great place to launch your kayak or windsurfing board. While you’re appreciating the water, make sure that you stay wildlife aware.
Please note, many beaches do not have lifeguards and may be subject to currents or other dangers.
Or why not consider a paddleboarding session? The New Forest Paddle Sport Company is based in tranquil Keyhaven and offers a variety of experiences, from exploring the Keyhaven and salt marshes, to taster sessions for beginners.
Image - The New Forest Paddle Sport Company
Or opt for the Canadian-style canoe and kayak trips along the Beaulieu River organised by New Forest Activities. Calshot Activities Centre and Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Centre are also great for water-based activities.
If you really want to create a splash, don’t forget to check out New Forest Water Park at Fordingbridge. They have plenty of amazing things to do, including two giant aqua obstacle courses, plus a new-concept, five-corner wakeboarding facility.
Want to reconnect with water without actually going in it? For the experience of a lifetime, why not book one of Escape Yachting’s lunchtime or evening sails? Departing from Lymington, you can help sail their luxury yacht under the guidance of a friendly skipper – or sit back and let the crew do all the work – it’s up to you!
Image - Escape Yachting
Dream away the hours, relax on deck and sip your welcome glass of champagne – then prepare to eat a luxury lunch or a divine dinner, depending on which package you’d prefer.
You’ll also find boat trips along the Beaulieu River – England’s only privately-owned river - and some wonderful trips from Southampton on the SS Shieldhall, believed to be Britain’s largest working steamship.
Reconnect with water via our rich maritime heritage at Buckler’s Hard, where entry will allow you to explore this Insta-worthy location, which once built ships for Nelson’s Royal Navy and which recently appeared in the BBC adaption of Great Expectations. Don’t forget to book lunch or dinner at the Master Builder’s House Hotel, where their terrace looks out onto the water.
You can see how water is used, even today, to grind flour at Eling Tide Mill, the only one of its kind in Britain. Overlooking Southampton Water, Eling has had a working mill on this site for more than 900 years. Its museum explains and interprets this fascinating part of our industrial heritage and you can even buy their flour.
The New Forest is criss-crossed by little streams and brooks – perfect for a quiet sit down by the flowing water. Puttles near Rhinefield is a good one for ‘Pooh sticks’!
And, if you’d like to introduce a little science, rock up to the Iron Well near Fritham. Its alternative name, Chalybeate, explains things better as the word means: ‘a natural spring with iron salts’ which are what make the water appear a dull red.
For lots of other ways to reconnect with water, as well as accommodation with pools and coastal access, visit thenewforest.co.uk