As the days are getting shorter and the nights grow long, what better way to beat off the winter blues than with a romantic break?
Winter in the magical New Forest is a season of dark, starry skies, rustling leaves, roaring fires, and delicious, comforting food.
It’s the season of frosts and snow; of wild storms, scarlet sunsets and cosying up on squashy sofas or armchairs with nothing better to do than read a good book.
So, make a plan to kick up the frosty leaves in the woodlands or watch a winter sunset from Bolton’s Bench near Lyndhurst. (If you’re very lucky, there may even be snow!)
Wrap up in your warmest coats and take a walk through one of our Ancient Woodlands – we’re home to some of Europe’s finest examples, with cathedrals of beech and oak just waiting for you to explore. Or wander across our lonely heathland or the National Trust’s Northern Commons - whatever you choose we’ve got more than 100,000 acres for you to discover.
Don’t forget, too, our secret coast that’s just waiting to welcome you. We have more than 40 miles of peaceful beaches, from Calshot in the east to Mudeford in the West, including Hurst Spit, which stretches so far into the Solent, you’ll think you can touch the Isle of Wight. Take a wander on Lepe beach, before enjoying a barista-made coffee at their Lookout Café. Or watch the waves pound the shoreline at Barton on Sea or beautiful Friar’s Cliff.
Winter is a great time to try a new hobby or interest, such as the surprisingly mindful activity of bird-watching. Our friends at the New Forest National Park Authority have loads of great info on what to spot and when but, to ease you into it, get along to Keyhaven Marsh near Lymington or the North Solent Nature Reserve with parking at Beaulieu, where you’re sure to see some elegant winter visitors and – if you’re very lucky – one of the Isle of Wight’s famous White Tailed Eagles!
Or how about a little cycling? We have more than 100 miles of dedicated tracks for you to ride – and if you don’t have a bike, New Forest Cycling in Burley can even hire you a romantic tandem!
For something completely different, on a dark, clear evening, park up at one of our heathland car-parks. (But don’t forget your torch!)
The New Forest has some of the UK’s darkest skies in the relatively light-polluted south-east, which make here the perfect place to see the Milky Way, spot Orion, and marvel at the winter meteor showers which are coming up in mid-December.
Now we’ve whetted your appetite, can we suggest some great places to stay?
If you’d prefer to be alone, then self-catering cottages in the New Forest can provide a romantic retreat for the two of you. Many are set in tranquil, secluded woodlands where you can stride out right from your doorstep. Keep an eye out for properties that offer open fireplaces, woodburners or even a hot tub, where you can relax together.
Whisk your loved ones away to a cosy, romantic cottage in the woods with a toasty log fire to warm your cheeks after a walk through the forest. New Forest Cottages has 190 cottages, barns, apartments, and cabins.
Image - New Forest Cottages
If you want to enjoy a romantic meal a deux without all the fuss, The Forest Foodie can sort you with a scrumptious hamper delivered to your door.
If you fancy getting closer to nature, many of our camp sites and glamping venues do winter stays. Campsites in the New Forest will help you locate the best one for you.
If you’d like more comforts, however, don’t forget that the New Forest is home to some of Britain’s best holiday parks and villages, with facilities including day spas and indoor swimming, as well as proximity to the forest and beaches.
New Forest B&Bs are famous for their friendly hosts who can tip you off about all the best places to visit or walk, and we’re also home to some excellent smaller hotels, and cosy inns, for people who really want to get away from the hustle and bustle.
However, if your idea of winter romance is enjoying a killer cocktail at the bar of a beautiful hotel, before gliding into the dining room for a sumptuous meal, you’ve come to the right place.
Image - Chewton Glen Hotel
The New Forest’s hotels are perfect for dress-down days and glammed-up nights. Choose The Pig at Brockenhurst and you can even enjoy a beauty treatment in one of their special huts – and they’ll lend you a pair of wellies if you’ve forgotten yours.
Lime Wood is another fantastic base for a romantic break – and their Hartnett Holder & Co Restaurant serves memorable and award-winning food.
The Balmer Lawn places you slap-bang in the centre of a romantic walkers’ paradise in Brockenhurst, as well as having a lovely spa for unwinding in, after a day braving the elements.
The Montagu Arms at Beaulieu is perfect for river walks, as is the Master Builder’s Hotel in nearby Buckler’s Hard. And, if you’d like your romantic break to include some spa treats for two, book into Carey’s Manor, home of the world-famous, Thai-inspired SenSpa.
Image - The Pig
For special occasions and the treat of a lifetime, try the Chewton Glen. This 5* hotel near the coast at New Milton has had some very illustrious guests over the years and has everything you’d ever need to ensure that romance blossoms – even in the dead of winter!
- More romantic winter ideas here: thenewforest.co.uk