By: Blonde Two
Walking Holidays in the New Forest
Despite a variety of rather lovely trips away over the last couple of years, I am not, by any means, a hotel expert. I have stayed in enough hotels, however, to know what I like and what I appreciate after a day out walking. These include,
- A warm room with plenty of drying capability
- A large and comfortable bed
- A swimming pool big enough to swim in
- The treat of a bubble pool to massage away any walking aches
- A sit in a sauna followed by a cold shower to get me in the mood for dinner
- Dinner generous enough to fill a hungry walker but tasty enough to thrill
So when looking for a luxury hotel, intended to be a bit of a 50th birthday treat after a busy couple of days with Ordnance Survey, it made sense to stay on at the very comfortable Careys Manor Hotel in Brockenhurst in the New Forest. Mr Blonde Two and I enjoyed two nights and days of a wonderful combination of outdoors-on-the-doorstep and back-after-a-walk comfort and I have to say that Careys Manor and the SenSpa ticked all of the above luxury walking holiday boxes. We wandered around the pretty village of Brockenhurst, explored a few woodland walking highlights along the Rhinefield and Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drives and had the luxury of trips down to Careys Manor’s peaceful and most welcoming SenSpa in between times.
One of the great things about Careys Manor Hotel is that it offers diners the choice of three completely different eating experiences. We choose to spoil ourselves with Thai cuisine from the Zen Garden Restaurant on our first night and then take on an entirely different eating experience in the New Forest focussed Cambium Restaurant on the second. Both experiences were delightful with delicious food (highlights for me were the best pork that I have ever tasted in the Cambium and my very first Espresso Martini) and attentive but unobtrusive staff. Incidentally, another highlight of our stay at Careys Manor was the generous breakfast buffet at which we ate enough to fuel ourselves for 20 miles of walking (we definitely didn’t walk that far).
Walking in the New Forest took a bit of getting used to after Dartmoor. For a start, it is very flat (I found a trig point on the map at only 64 metres high) and secondly, although I always recommend a compass when walking in woodland, it was often too wet to wander off the set paths.
Being a bit of a tree fan, I really enjoyed the Blackwater Arboretum where almost all of the trees were labelled including several beautiful oaks (quercus robur) and a rather surprising, knobbly-barked silver birch (betula pendula) and we continued our walk from the Arboretum on a circular route along some of the forestry trails.
One thing that did surprise me about the New Forest was the expanses of heathland that, on a clear, frosty morning were draped in other-worldly mist.
Our short New Forest walking holiday at Careys Manor Hotel was a pleasant and relaxing experience in so many ways but if I could highlight one thing, it would be the helpfulness, generosity and politeness of the staff. Right across the hotel we felt welcomed and looked after. What more could you want from a 50th birthday celebration?
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