Itinerary: New Forest & Wessex

New Forest and Wessex

Something for everyone on this glorious tour through deepest Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire; two cathedral cities; crystal-clear chalk streams in gentle valleys; the serene and timeless landscape of the New Forest; a walking foray to the Isle of Wight; the majestic sculptured Purbeck coastline, a dramatic drive along the Jurassic Coast; and winding lanes through picture-book villages in Hardy's Wessex.

The Itinerary

Day 1

Winchester (cathedral; Winchester College guided tour; water meadow stroll; town trail; Great Hall). Head north to Whitchurch Silk Mill, then follow country lanes south through the glorious Test Valley, visiting Leckford Farm Shop & Cafe en route to Stockbridge, fly-fishing capital of England. STAY – Greyhound on the Test, Stockbridge, Hampshire (from £110); or Peat Spade, Longstock (from £100).

Day 2

Fly-fishing session (May/June) at the Greyhound; or drive back lanes south through Test Valley to Mottisfont Abbey (Rose Garden), continuing to Romsey (Abbey & Broadlands), then through New Forest to Beaulieu (House & Motor Museum & two-mile riverside walk to timeless Buckler's Hard). STAY - The Mayflower, Lymington, Hampshire (from £100); or Mill at Gordleton (from £90).

Day 3

Stay two nights at Mayflower; explore Lymington; take the ferry (as passenger) to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Hop on a bus and tour the Island or follow the old railway trail through the Yar Valley to the beach at Freshwater Bay. Walk west up Tennyson Down, a dramatic chalk ridge rising 480ft above the sea, for glorious island and coastal views. Return to Yarmouth and Lymington.

Day 4

Drive up the spectacular Rhinefield & Bolderwood Ornamental Drives (waymarked strolls through impressive trees; deer-viewing platforms), plus beautiful heath and woodland walk from Fritham. Across New Forest to Fordingbridge (Breamore House & Rockbourne Roman Villa) and B-road to Cranborne Chase. STAY - Museum Inn, Farnham, Dorset (from £90).

Day 5

South to Kingston Lacy (NT) near Wimborne, then to Isle of Purbeck and Corfe Castle (NT), and exhilarating coast path walk from Worth Matravers. West to abandoned Tyneham Village, beautiful Lulworth Cove and dramatic Durdle Door. Inland to Dorchester and Hardy's Cottage (NT) at Brockhampton. STAY – New Inn, Cerne Abbas, Dorset (from £100).

Day 6

South to Hardy’s Monument for magnificent coastal views; down to Abbotsbury (Swannery; Abbey; easy stroll to Chesil Beach); then dramatic coast drive to Bridport, Lyme Regis and Jurassic Coast - walk up Golden Cap from Seatown. Inland on back roads to Forde Abbey Gardens. STAY – Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton St George, Somerset (from £90).

Day 7

Visit Barrington Court (NT) and/or Montacute House (NT), then avoid busy A303, following A30 east via Sherborne (Abbey; independent shops) and Shaftesbury (Gold Hill); then through the peaceful Ebble Valley to Salisbury (cathedral; museums; shopping; riverside strolls). STAY – Red Lion Freehouse, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire (from £150 - riverside rooms).

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