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Top gardens and outside spaces for eating and drinking in the New Forest

AT long last locals have been able to enjoy that much-anticipated freedom drink in the sun as pubs, restaurants, hotels and cafés opened up their gardens once again.

There is no shortage of venues with outside spaces and beautiful surroundings in the New Forest; so to celebrate the easing of lockdown and the opening up of outdoor hospitality, the A&T, in collaboration with Anthony Climpson of Go New Forest, has compiled a list of some of the best outside hospitality venues across the New Forest.

For those fans of a more traditional pub, look no further than the 17th century Waterloo Arms in Lyndhurst. Its ample, sunny, fenced garden is perfect for kids and dogs, and when the weather is less favourable there is a large marquee over the patio area, complete with pretty lights for added ambience.

The 17th century Waterloo Arms at Lyndhurst
The 17th century Waterloo Arms at Lyndhurst

Owner Michelle Rodgers said the first week welcoming customers back was "magnificent".

“Everyone is just so happy to be back enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the pub again," she said. "And they came dressed for the weather, with some even bringing along their own blankets for extra warmth.

Up the road, The Trusty Servant in Minstead and the New Forest Inn at Emery Down boast all-weather beer gardens with a mixture of marquees and gazebos to fend off the very changeable British weather.

Owner Debbie Lewis said both pubs were packed last weekend, and while Covid rules made waiting tables "extremely challenging" for staff, they provided service with a "big smile" throughout.

After months of closure, the New Forest's hotels have also created some very enticing outdoor spaces and are back doing what they do best.

South Lawn Hotel at Milford have built a completely new dining area, and customers have been enjoying traditional roasts and live music.

South Lawn Hotel's The Outside Inn at Milford
South Lawn Hotel's The Outside Inn at Milford

In Brockenhurst, Balmer Lawn Hotel’s new beach bar themed Lodge Kitchen & Bar has been open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with live DJ nights on Fridays and Saturdays.

General manger Michael Clitheroe said: "Our opening week was a roaring success, serving more than 1,700 guests across the seven days.

"The key message for us has been to showcase how the national park and hospitality as a whole can respond to the challenge and operate in a safe and Covid secure way.

"Guests have been amazed by our recent improvements, especially our new restaurant and extended terrace, with patio heaters and views across the cricket pitch into the Forest beyond.”

James Martin and his team at the Chewton Glen Hotel in Barton have been creating a delicious menu for diners at The Kitchen restaurant terrace, featuring last year's favourite Plateau de Fruits de Mer, a selection of pizzas, a mouth-watering Wagyu Beef Burger and, of course, the return of their famous ‘Kitchen Apple’ for dessert.

Heating and cover have ensured that whatever the weather, guests are assured the great experience they have come to expect. The Kitchen is also dog friendly.

Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst
Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst

Forest Park Hotel on Rhinefield Road in Brockenhurst has reopened their spacious garden daily from 10am until 7pm, and guests can enjoy lighter bites like sandwiches and tapas along with main dishes and Sunday roasts.

For something a bit different, take a trip to the Pyramid Field at Sunnyfield’s Farm in Totton, which serves authentic wood fired pizzas, local ales and wines and delicious weekly farm kitchen specials!

Tea lovers can enjoy a cuppa at one of the Forest's many cafés and tearooms, including Steff's Kitchen in Beaulieu which offers homemade and locally sourced produce wherever possible, and The Old Station Tearooms at Holmsley, where walkers and cyclists can take a well-earned break and enjoy a cream tea, light lunch or refreshing beverage.

Families wanting some extra entertainment as part of their dining experience can visit Hockey's Farm Farmyard Cafe near Fordingbridge, where guests can meet some of the animals, or Furzey Gardens Tea Rooms, which features an enchanting secret garden.

Mr Climpson has just launched a campaign called Taste the New Forest, which he said will be the "mainstay in our efforts to help tourism businesses bounce back from the very serious challenges created by Covid-19".

"Our aim is to drive the social and economic recovery by connecting up everyone involved in growing, producing, cooking, serving and selling local food & drink.

"We not only have one of England’s most beautiful destinations, we also serve some of the very best food in the country as well and that’s something we can all celebrate!”

Throughout the rest of the year, the campaign will showcase many other great places to eat and drink, along food festivals and events and local hospitality personalities, producers and growers.

To find out more visit www.thenewforest.co.uk

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