TWO popular New Forest attractions are reopening for the weekend for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown – with special measures in place.
Following new government guidance, people are once more able to visit Buckler’s Hard and Exbury Gardens although, in addition to the restrictions to keep them safe, some facilities will remain out of use for the time being.
Yesterday (Thursday) Buckler’s Hard village, including the car park and toilets, reopened to provide an alternative destination for outings. People can picnic or walk alongside the Beaulieu River.
But the Maritime Museum, shipwright cottages, tea room and river cruise are still closed.
The village is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10.30am, with last entry to the car park at 4pm before the facilities and car park gates shut at 5pm.
Those visiting are urged to follow government guidance, which includes staying away if feeling unwell or displaying virus symptoms. They should visit only with members of the same household, or with one other person if outside of the household.
The recommendation to keep a two-metre distance from others should also be respected, and sanitising stations near the toilets used. People should also be prepared to queue for the toilets, which will be regularly cleaned.
There will be a temporary £5 entry fee per vehicle to fund the heritage site’s upkeep, with contactless payment preferred. There will be free parking for annual pass or unused attraction ticket holders.
Online-only ticket booking is among Exbury Gardens’ Covid-19 secure practices when it reopens tomorrow (Saturday), along with a daily visitor limit of 500 and staggered arrival times.
The colourful herbaceous borders near Exbury House are on offer, as well as the recently-opened Centenary Garden, a revamped Iris Garden, a new Birch Walk, and more than 20 miles of meandering pathways.
Regularly sanitised toilets will be available, and refreshments and sandwiches can be purchased Wednesday-Sunday.
However, the steam railway trains and guided buggy tours will not be operating.
Lionel de Rothschild, chairman of Exbury Gardens Trust, said: “We have 200 acres of space at Exbury filled with the most beautiful plants and trees that look absolutely spectacular at the start of the summer, and we’re so looking forward to sharing it with our visitors again.
“There’s lots of room to roam and experience nature at its best, and we’re putting special protective measures in place to keep everyone safe.”
Advance tickets can be booked and arrival times chosen at www.exbury.co.uk