Visit New Forest: Places to stay, things to do

Eleanor Daniel explores the wonders of Salisbury and The New Forest

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Why go there
Salisbury and the surrounding Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside is a wonderful place to explore, with great walking country and the medieval market town itself. Salisbury is home to one of the most impressive and infamous cathedrals in Britain, built in the 13th Century, Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest church spire in the UK and the largest cathedral close. The cathedral also has the honour of hosting an original copy of the Magna Carta. The close itself is also full of charm, as a walled area lined with beautiful Georgian houses. The city is relaxed and perfect for a leisurely wander among the magnificent half-timbered houses. With a wealth of places to stop for tea or even cream tea at The Polly Tearooms, it is a wonderful place to visit on a summer’s day.

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Equally, the surrounding area is definitely worth a visit. Just twenty minutes outside of Salisbury, The New Forest National Park appears. The Forest was originally a medieval royal hunting ground created by William the Conqueror in 1079. With wild New Forest ponies, pigs, cattle and a whole host of other wildlife, The New Forest is simply glorious. If walking appeals, there are a plethora of walks and cycle rides to do, with the added appeal of stumbling across a traditional village pub on the way.

Where to stay
If a quiet, family retreat is what you’re looking for then Burgate Manor Farm Holidays is the place to be. Located on the border of the National Park, it consists of comfortable, self-catering cottages. It is situated on a working farm, so there is always something different to see or hear. Just a five minute walk from the farmyard and the New Forest is at your fingertips. To top that off, the market town of Salisbury is only twenty minutes away.

Where to eat
Whether it’s fine dining or simply a delicious cream tea you are after, Little Mere Restaurant (also known as the Gorley Tea Rooms) is the place to visit. Situated in the New Forest in the picturesque village of North Gorley, the restaurant boasts a fantastic location. Housed in a charming thatched cottages, thought to be around 300 years old, it is modern yet old fashioned. The restaurant serves excellent food in intimate surroundings, and even offers an outdoor terrace for pre-dinner drinks. With a change of menu on a monthly basis, the menu is locally sourced and highly acclaimed.

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Tell us a local secret
George Frederick Handel gave his first performance in England in a room above St. Ann’s Gate, just outside the cathedral close.