Dog Walks in the New Forest – Holmsley Circular Walk

One of the great things about walking is that it’s a great excuse to eat cake. You need to refuel right?! It has been known for us to go on a walk to specifically visit a cafe and we found this walk when searching for ‘holmsley circular walks’. We wanted to park up somewhere in the New Forest, walk the Old Station Tearooms in Holmsley, eat cake and then walk back to the car. This walk was perfect for that. Phil had searched for good tea rooms in the New Forest and the Old Station tearooms came up so we knew we had to pay them a visit.

Holmsley walk New Forest ponies New Forest circular walk New Forest New Forest dog walk Holmsley circular walk Holmsley dog walk Old station Old railway walk

This is the second time I’ve been to the New Forest and I still find it completely breathtaking. In a time where it feels like every scrap of land is being built on, to find such an expanse of green is heartwarming. I love seeing the horses and cows roaming free too. They never seemed bothered by us in the slightest and Poppy is used to seeing different animals now so she’s not bothered by them anymore either.

Once we’d parked up, we headed off, using the map at the top, which comes from the AA website (click on the map to go to their website). While the map is pretty clear, the directions aren’t. We weren’t sure how long we should walk once we’d past the cider shop. It turned out that we had to walk quite a way! We eventually found the right path we needed to go out onto the heath. It was incredibly beautiful all the way along. Every so often we’d come across an old bridge from the railway that’s no longer in use. It’s hard to imagine trains running through the New Forest now!

Holmsley Tea Rooms Old Station tea rooms Old station cream tea

The weather had threatened rain all morning but we were spared until we were close the tearooms. Foolishly, I hadn’t checked to see if the tearooms was dog friendly (which it isn’t inside) so as we approached in the rain, I was a little worried that we’d be sitting outside in the rain, eating wet scones. Fortunately, we arrived to see plenty of outside seating, with a fair chunk of it undercover. The tearooms are adorable and it’s such a great way to use an old station house. The menu looked pretty good, but we were there for one thing and on thing only – the cream tea. And it didn’t disappoint. We had two fresh homemade scones with ample cream and jam. They were delicious and the perfect reward for walking all that way.

Just as we were finishing up, the heavens opened for a final down pour before the rain stopped. We were so lucky. We took a slightly shorter route than the one on the map because my knee was playing up a bit. Hilly walks make it unhappy so we took a path that had less of an incline and before we knew it, we were back at the car. It was a lovely walk and I’d love to do more New Forest walks as it’s such an amazing place.

The Walk: The walk is pretty flat and beautiful. As it’s part of the New Forest, you can change your walk at almost any point, to make it longer or shorter.
Cost: Free
Car Park: We parked at the free car park in Burley. It wasn’t the one on the map as I took a wrong turn and carried on the road round to the right in Burley, rather than making a left. I think it was just opposite a cricket ground.
Refreshments: The whole point of our walk was to visit The Old Station Tearooms in Holmsley, which is well worth a visit. Dogs aren’t allowed in the cafe, but there’s plenty of seating outside, with some undercover.
Toilets: There are some at the tearooms. Use these as there are none anywhere else!


Tuesday Treat – Castles and Coastline

Last weekend, we went on a flying visit to my home county of Pembrokeshire to celebrate our engagement with my family. It came at a good time, as I needed my fill of coastal views and sea air. We started with a dog walk around Pembroke Castle and the Mill Pond in Pembroke, which remains one of my favourite walks of all time. I love walking around the old walls and imagining times gone by when the castle was inhabited. The Mill Pond is also a great place for some bird watching – we saw two herons, four cormorants and loads of swans and ducks.

Pembroke CastleCarew Castle Freshwater West

After a spot of lunch at the Quayside Cafe in Lawrenny, we went for a walk around Carew Castle and the old mill. It’s a magnificent structure and a lovely little walk after a delicious lunch. I wish I’d appreciated these buildings more when I lived in Pembrokeshire and I’d love to learn more about their history. (At the moment, I like to make things up about their history and it’s a bit of a cross between Game of Thrones and The Tudors!) Finally, Sunday morning called for a visit to Freshwater West. As soon as I stepped out of the car and smelt the salt in the air, I felt restored. Sadly, this wasn’t to last as there were thousands (not exaggerating) of jelly fish washed up on the shoreline and they covered the beach. Poppy likes to bite them and fling them about. So we had quite a stressful walk, trying to keep her away from them and a few dead seagulls. Either way, there’s something about being by the sea that just fills my soul, even if it’s just for a few minutes!

Dogwalks in Hampshire – Keyhaven to Lymington

While we were on our glamping holiday a few weeks ago, we knew we wanted to explore the area, as it was fairly new to us. We also wanted to do some birdwatching and take Poppy on some amazing walks. So Phil found us a lovely circular walk from Keyhaven to Lymington that took in the Keyhaven Nature Reserve. There are a number of different walks you can take, as you can see here on this map, and we walked along the coast on our to Lymington, but we were knackered on our way back so went on a shorter route to get back to the car.

Keyhaven Yacht Club Keyhaven Nature Reserve Coastal Flowers

The weather was a bit chilly and overcast to begin with, but straight away we spotted a reed warbler by the yacht club. It was a sign of things to come. The views across to the Isle of Wight were amazing and I had no idea we were so close to it. As we neared the nature reserve, we could see more and more birds that we hadn’t seen before. We turned a corner to find a little egret, two spoonbills and quite a few shelducks. Having never seen these birds before, we spent a long tim watching them. Poppy was brilliant, as she must have been very, very bored!

Little Egret ShelduckSpoonbill

When we finally got moving again, we noticed how busy the walk was. There were lots of people walking, cycling and dog walking along the coastal path. (Dogs should be kept on leads as there are some ground nesting birds about.) The different pools used to be used to make salt so it’s lovely to see so many different species enjoying their return to nature, including the painted lady and lapwing below.

Painted Lady Butterfly LapwingKeyhaven to Lymington walk

The walk was longer than we’d anticipated. We thought that it was 3 miles in total, but it isn’t. It’s three miles each way! We hadn’t planned particularly well and hadn’t brought any snacks. Rookie error! So by the time we arrived at Lymington marina, which is an amazing place in itself, we were desperate for some lunch. Phil had done some research and we headed for The Mayflower, where we enjoyed an amazing ploughmans lunch in the beer garden. The garden is pretty big so we were able to find a table in the corner where Poppy could rest up.

The Mayflower Ploughmans

As the walk had taken longer than anticipated, our return journey was via a shorter route, as we had to get back to the car (plus, I needed a lie down!) After a quick stop at the shop for a 99 each, we headed back. By this time, the sun was out and it was boiling. We were keen to get back to the hut and take our walking boots off. It was a brilliant walk and just looking at the pictures writing this post, I want to go back and maybe even take a boat trip over to the Isle of Wight!

The Walk: The walk is mainly flat and easy to navigate. There are a number of shortcuts you can do if you don’t fancy doing the 10 mile circular walk we started!
Cost: Free
Car Park: We parked at the car park in Keyhaven and paid using Ringo (a godsend!) It is easy to find and has toilets and plenty of spaces.
Refreshments: I highly recommend visiting The Mayflower in Lymington. They do a great range of food and it’s a lovely treat part way through the walk.
Toilets: There are some really fancy (yes, fancy!) toilets at the Keyhaven car park which are well worth a visit!


Relaxing at Fawsley Hall Spa

A few weekends ago, a couple of friends and I headed to Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa for a spot of well earned pampering. We’ve been before and it remains to be, in my opinion, the best spa I’ve ever been to. When we arrived, we chatted in the seating area in reception while we waited for our appointments. We were all having different treatments – I went for my usual back massage and wasn’t disappointed.

Fawsley Hall SpaFawsley Hall Back Massage Fawsley Hall Afternoon TeaFawsley Hall

After an excellent massage, which was just right and managed to work out the tension in my shoulders, it was time to wait for the others in the relaxation room. We had booked afternoon tea over in the hotel so when it was time, we left the spa and headed to the main building. We were in the main room, which is incredibly lavish and ornate. The sofas are enormous and comfortable and the staff are always on hand, without being pushy, to help with anything. I asked for the veggie afternoon tea and had some delicious sandwiches to accompany my scones. I also asked for soya milk with my tea and as pleased that they had that too. While the sandwiches were good, the scones and cream were amazing. We had one fruit and one plain scone each and we were able to get extra cream and jam, as we didn’t hold back!

We had such a lovely time there that we’re going back in a few weeks time for an end of school treat. I think we all deserve a little de-stressing!

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