The New Forest is one of my favourite areas of England. My first puppy came from there, a cross between a Welsh Border Collie and a smaller dog of mixed breeds that herded cows in the Forest for its keep. He (my dog) inherited the herding instinct and would try to keep me and my friends all together when we visited the Forest.
The New Forest was a royal hunting ground created by William I (the Conqueror) in 1079. He chiefly hunted deer there, and there are many deer still in the Forest. You can buy venison and venison sausages in the speciality butcher’s in the village of Brockenhurst, which actually makes a good base if you want to explore the New Forest. It has a railway station as well as being on bus routes, so it is easy to get around from there if you don’t have a car. You may see ponies and donkeys ambling down the streets here, but they are a part of the town and the Forest.
Lyndhurst (sometimes referred to as the capital of the New Forest) is also a god place to stay, and you would be following in the footsteps of English monarchs if you stayed there. One of the nearby attractions is the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wild Life Park. Alice Liddell, thought to have inspired Lewis Carroll to write his Alice books, is buried in the pre-Raphaelite church of Saint Michael and All Angels here.
Lymington, on the coast, is also part of the area and a good place for eating freshly caught fish and seafood. It is especially vibrant on a Saturday when it holds a weekly market. If you fancy a day trip to the Isle of Wight, you can take a ferry from Lymington. The village of Sway is quaint and picturesque and worth a visit. Captain Marryatt’s book “Children of the New Forest” was set in the surrounding area.
Burley is a village in the Forest with tea rooms for tourists and a saddle and horse accoutrements shop for locals. You can relax in the pub, the Burley Inn, which has log fires in winter and is full of olde- worlde charm. It’s a good place for a drink, food and accommodation. There are witchcraft associations in Burley, although they began in the 1950s, unless some of the local legends are true! The witch was Sybil Leek who used to wander around the village in a long black cloak with a jackdaw perched on her shoulder, before she emigrated to the US. You can buy witches’ cauldrons and broomsticks in the village, so it’s a great place for Harry Potter fans to visit.
Of course there were many wise women who lived in the New Forest and who practised the art of healing with herbs and natural substances. There are stories of witches being drowned at places in the New Forest and of various black magic rites being performed there. There are tales of Gardner and his encounter with a coven of witches and various mentions of Aleister Crowley, but you can find these tales elsewhere on the Net.
For me the New Forest is an enchanted, enchanting place full of tranquility and harmony. It’s a great place to recharge one’s batteries!