A Day’s Riding in the New Forest…

It’s rare that me and my hubby get a whole day together – either I’m off to work 12-8, or we’ll have part of a day surrounded by Dave working an early morning then an evening shift. So when one of these rare occurrences came by, we were determined to make the most of it. Dave had suggested we take the bike down to the New Forest, as he wanted to take a look at some bike accessories from a company down that way, but we love the area so much, there’s some fantastic riding down there not to mention the incredible scenery, and of course, the cute ponies.

We set off around 10am, making the most of a lie in together but also wanting to be underway fairly soon. The weather wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t wet or particularly windy, and after a year of really naff biking weather, it was good enough for us. Layering up in our thermals, I had to put on two layers of socks because I still haven’t got around to buying myself some proper thick hiking/biking socks, and I really suffer from cold hands and feet – not the best ailment when you’re speeding down the motorway in the English weather. But, they did the job pretty well, and we were on our way towards Chichester, then Portsmouth and Southampton. It was a pretty lovely route the whole way down, because we take the back way from Shoreham round Steyning and Amberly. This route is one of our favourite shortcuts when heading west – lovely country roads and avoiding the awful Worthing/Littlehampton traffic. Once we got to Chichester, the trick there is to actually go through the town, instead of around the ring road. Generally speaking, the roundabouts get so haired up with traffic, its actually quicker to cut through the city centre, which again is a nice change from the motorway. The route from Chichester to Portsmouth goes by pretty quickly, and whilst the leg from there to Southampton always seems to take forever, its exciting to see the countryside changing from fields and hedges to the heathland surrounding the new forest, and eventually the towering woodlands the area is famous for.

It was even more lovely this time of year, with not only the scenery changing, but the colours of the trees were all turning stunning shades of yellow, orange and red. As it was a fairly dry day, the fallen leaves creating a beautiful blanket on the forest floor were whipped up in the wind, scattering all over the place. The sun occasionally shone through the clouds and trees, bringing everything to life with more vivid, golden colours than you can imagine. It was a stunning days riding, especially as we took the back routes through the forest instead of the mainlines from Lindhurst to Lymington – at the end of the day its not the biggest area in the world, and if you see an interesting looking route it’s bound to end up at a sign post to point you back in the right direction eventually. At the end of the day, you don’t come to the New Forest if you’re in a rush, do you?

More reason to take the winding back roads of the New Forest than the sheer beauty of the landscape, is that you’re far more likely to come across some of the locals! (Although to be fair we did see a pony looking rather disgruntled at the door of Brockenhurst’s Tescos, seemingly bemused as to why he wasn’t allowed in). You can’t go far in many directions without at least seeing a group of horses in the distance, let alone grazing at the side of the road, or using the road themselves. We saw ponies, horses, cows, donkeys and even some pigs! We have heard stories that when the pigs are let loose for the season, the tarmac of the road gets so warm during the day, that at night you can often come across a huge bundle of them on the road, sleeping on the warmth of the heated tarmac! All of them are the very picture of cuteness, particularly the little donkey foals!

For lunch, we had been recommended a pub on the Brockenhurst-Lymington road called the Hobler, as offering great pub grub at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, it seemed everyone else had been recommended that as well, so when we got there, it was packed out. But that’s a good thing to know for future instances though! We carried on down the road into Brockenhurst, and after a little bit of riding round the houses, we came across the Snake Catcher. Just north of the railway crossing, we rode into the car park, optimistic, as there were a decent amount of cars  to suggest it was a good place, but not packed out. We were delightfully surprised by the quality and price of the food – I had a jumbo piece of battered fish, but they’d also been sensible with the amount of chips that came with it. The tartar sauce was incredible, really chunky, tasting more of capers than mayonnaise, which is a very good thing for me. Dave ordered the large portion of nachos with meat, thinking it to be the main sized portion as opposed to starter, and even he couldn’t finish it! There was a mountain of nachos and chilli and jalepenos and cheese and sour cream and salsa – all at very reasonable prices.

On the way back home, we took a route via Beaulieu and back up towards Lindhurst, trying to make the most of our time in the New Forest. Dave has a BMW 650gs, his pride and joy, and she has been on many adventures with us. (Yes, she. Tigs, or Tigger, if you want to know.) She really is a great bike two-up, very comfy for the pillion particularly with the comfy seat and Givi topbox. Dave’s also recently added a higher screen, reducing the buffeting from the wind at high speeds significantly, you can barely feel it now. The routes through the New Forest are really amazing for a pillion and rider – the 40mph speed limit means both can get a stunning view of the scenery, and the twisting winding roads are so much fun for both riders. We’ve been told by a rider who lives in Lymington that he can do a full days riding and never go further than 20 miles from his house. That sounds like the life to me!

Yours,

The Vintage Housewife x

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