The New Forest, a break for all seasons
The TravelEditor visits the New Forest on a short break and discovers Bond cars, Brockenhurst and Cottage Lodge, a superb 5 star B&B .....
A NATIONAL PARK
The New Forest is one of the most unspoilt and glorious parts of Southern England. This unique area, full of picturesque villages, bustling market towns and winding country lanes, is a perfect and relaxing environment for a short break whatever the season. In 1079 William the Conqueror set aside the area as a royal playground for the hunting of deer; today the National Park is made up of a well cared for mix of forest, pasture and heathland.
The environmental impact of the many visitors has to be carefully balanced and the whole forest has a 40 mph speed limit with lots of dedicated car parking areas. Here you’ll give way to ponies and cattle grazing freely as they have done for centuries with plenty of opportunities to see the famous ponies at close quarter. Deep in the wooded areas you’ll also spot the deer. The New Forest is a wonderful location for walkers and cyclists alike with miles of splendid walks and cycle routes.
BOND IN MOTION
There’s a wealth of attractions to visit including the famous Beaulieu National Motor Museum, which houses more than 250 vehicles and is currently staging Bond in Motion. The exhibition features a whole range of vehicles which have appeared in Bond films over the years including cars, motorbikes, sleds, jets and many more. This collection of iconic movie vehicles include the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldeneye, the 1937 Phantom III Rolls-Royce from Goldfinger, the ‘Little Nellie’ autogyro from You Only Live Twice, the Bede Acrostar jet famously flown in Octopussy and the BMW 750iL from Tomorrow Never Dies, plus fabulous vehicle action clips from the the films!
Brockenhurst, one of the largest villages in the New Forest, retains its old world charm and is a delight to visit. Famous for the watersplash at the bottom of the main shopping street where animals stop to drink - just beyond is open heathland and some fantastic woodland walks. It was here in Brockenhurst itself, that I discovered Cottage Lodge, a beautiful eco-chic, environmentally responsible 5 star B&B.
Owned and run by Christina Simons; Cottage Lodge is a perfect location for a well-earned break. Christina’s attention to detail, her commitment to conservation and her customer service is outstanding, which has led to many awards over recent years including the AA top 5 star Bed and Breakfast rating.
Constructed as a Forester’s Cottage in 1650 from reclaimed ships' timbers and hand-made bricks and sand, the accommodation has been extended into a superb B&B, although you can still experience the original building and beams in the charming Snug.
A former hotel in years gone by, this means that your room isn’t just a room off family accommodation - it’s a hotel-style arrangement with a range of Superior rooms and Standard en-suite rooms, three of which have patio access.
The Morant room is ‘dog-friendly’ with wooden floors and an enclosed patio garden. A disabled room is also available with many essential features including room for wheelchair movement and a super kingsize bed. Whilst all the rooms at Cottage Lodge are delightful, there are a number of particularly romantic rooms like the King William with its four poster bed and small lounge area.
There’s also a number of eco rooms such as the first floor James Hill Room where I had the pleasure of staying. James Hill is a warm and welcoming room overlooking the front of the building with a Romeo and Juliet balcony and a king-size four-poster bed hand carved from sustainable sources.
All rooms have excellent facilities including tea and coffee trays and a dvd player with a wide selection of dvd’s to choose from. I also had the opportunity to see the Exbury room with its bed made from a 200-year-old fallen New Forest oak, and the unusual Standing Hat room constructed from local Douglas Fir. After check-in you can come and go as you please and the Snug is a comfortable cosy lounge and sitting area for guests to enjoy.
It had been a while since my last New Forest breakfast and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with my first meal of the day here - excellent! Cottage Lodge prides itself on the use of fresh local ingredients wherever possible as a traditional breakfast.
FALLEN TREE RESTAURANT
Christina has recently introduced the Fallen Tree Restaurant as a dining experience based on local fresh produce. Three young and enthusiastic professionals are behind this enterprise, which is separate from the B&B. Philip and Radko the chefs and Diana maître d’. Dinner was reasonably priced and superbly prepared and served in relaxed comfortable surroundings.
Nothing was too much trouble and the quality of the meals and service was outstanding. I had dinner here on both nights and can highly recommend a meal here. Typical dishes include starters of smoked salmon with avocado, vodka shot and Melba toast or pan-fried scallops with sweet-corn puree and quail eggs.
Main course examples include roasted belly of pork with New Forest black pudding, whole grain mustard mash & apple puree, or pan-fried lemon sole with burnt butter sauce and a lightly spiced tomato chutney.
Delicious desserts might include orange and vanilla créme brulee served in an orange skin with hand-made lavender shortbread biscuit, or chocolate sticky toffee pudding. The restaurant, which is fully licensed so guests can enjoy wine with their meals, also serves a local New Forest cheese of the day with fresh apples, grapes and celery.
Fallen Tree is a highly appropriate name as Cottage Lodge has a strong eco theme and some of the bedroom furniture has been beautifully crafted from a fallen ash tree by local wood sculptor Rob Dyer. The tables in the restaurant are made from a rare black poplar tree which had to be felled for safety reasons and if you line them up in the correct order you can recreate the tree!
Escape to Cottage Lodge at any time of the year and I’m sure Christina and her team will make you feel most welcome. If you come by car parking is no problem as there’s a large car park out front. Arriving by train and the station is just 5 minutes walk away. Cycles can be hired in Brockenhurst and horse riding stables are nearby. Cottage Lodge has also introduced a new eco-friendly, electric two seater Twizy car, which guests can hire by the hour - great fun!
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Disclaimer: This review was posted independently as a personal opinion and as such, The Plymouth Daily cannot accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the article.
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