Here’s the good news. The New Forest is mostly flat and with an older local population, in general, accessibility in the area, is pretty good.
Options for days out:
1. Definitely consider Exbury Gardens. The collection of rhodedendrons and azaleas is world renowned and in April and May quite extraordinary. Throughout the gardens, the tracks and walk ways are very well maintained and again, mostly flat. The views through the gardens and estate are superb, especially in spring and autumn. The mini steam train will entertain young and old. There is a good cafe for informal breaks and the toilet and baby changing facilities are as good as you’ll find. Do take balance bikes for small children, and ride-on tractors etc won’t be sniffed at either. Ask for wheelchairs or mobility scooters to hire. A mobility bus also runs in busy times.
2.Beaulieu Motor Museum and Palace Gardens. It’s not the cheapest but it’s a full day and there is definitely enough for everyone, including Grandad and Gran to do – and no doubt they’ll love reminiscing about the cars they used to drive as you wander along. There is masses for little people and everyone can ride the monorail train. Link to their site here. Or Read our Insiders Guide to Beaulieu here.
The tracks here are good. Some are small gravel. Most are tarmac. So prams and mobility vehicles, or those using a stick to walk won’t have any nasty surprises.
Extend your trip for a walk along the Beaulieu River. The track is hard and pebbly and suitable for rugged or powered wheelchairs or mobility vehicles. It’s a pretty walk and mostly flat bar one small dip.
More about this walk:
A. If you can take two cars then non-walkers and walkers can start at different points and meet at Montagu Arms for a cream tea.
For those who want a longer walk (a hour and a half) then if they park at Bucklers Hard Agamemnon boat yard area, and walk up to Beaulieu on the river boardwalks and trails, they’ll end up in the village near the park, just behind Montagu Arms Hotel. You can also park here in the Hotel parking. The longer walk is suitable for prams (take the gravel track away from the river for no mud, and the river trail for a bit of mud (not much but better with wellies). It’s more interesting walking for 4’s and up by the river.
B. An even simpler and shorter trip, the one with the least walking options here, is to visit Beaulieu Village. Park at Steph’s Cafe, at Fairweathers Garden Centre. It’s a great cafe and well regarded. You can eat here or do a bit of shopping. Opposite is a beautifully run, educational show garden showcasing interesting fruit and vegetable growing techniques and best practice gardening. It’s well worth a visit and suitable for small children too. The walk to the show garden is flat from car park to show garden, but there is a little slope (about 10 metres gentle decline) into the show garden.
5. Tanners Lane beach party (without leaving the car). Very near the SO41 5SY postcode area.
Lastly, for no walking at all, you can drive onto a little beach called Tanners Lane about 3 miles east of Lymington.
We suggest taking champagne and a few treats in the car and watch the sunset from the car. Whilst the smalls can go wild and run about on the beach.
Read more about Tanners, our favourite wild beach here.
6. Take a boat from Bucklers Hard down the Beaulieu River and back.
Stop at the Maritime museum there and go to the Master Builders Hotel for lunch or drinks.
The boat trip is about 20 minutes one way and you’ll pass one of our houses Gins Barn as you go.
You can park in Bucklers Hard. The tracks are good and solid, (small gravel) and there is a gentle incline down to the harbour. You can drop guests off very close to the Master Builders Hotel (also a good pit stop for lunch and great views). There are some steps inside the hotel to get to the dining room. It’s a 200 metre walk to the harbour from the hotel.
7. Boat trip from Keyhaven and Hurst Castle trip for a cafe lunch.
If you’re staying in our houses in Keyhaven or Milford on Sea, take the boat from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle and lunch at the cafe there. It’s not wheelchair friendly on the boat, but the rest of it is pretty good. Read our blog about Hurst Castle here to help you decide.
8.Isle of Wight trip for lunch at The George Hotel.
Another fun idea is a day trip to the Isle of Wight. You can take a car, but to be honest, going as a foot passenger is more fun.
Take the Lymington-Yarmouth passenger ferry over to the Isle of Wight. The trip over takes 25 minutes and is very pretty. You get a birds eye view of the Lymington marina area and the crossing is rarely unpleasantly wavy.
There are short but steep stairs (with good handrail) to get upto the second floor on the ferry.
Once there, we suggest heading on the very short walk (100 yards) to The George Hotel. A fortress of local smartness, with its own pebble beach at low tide, it has great views of the comings and goings into the harbour. It is right next to the ferry port.
The town is right there too so it’s easy if some of the group want to wander about and look at the little independent shops. It is a nice short walk (500 yards and back) from The George front door, to the end of the pier and back. And again all flat.
The George do great food. Great drinks. Has a superb view and excellent service. Visit their website here.