As the country bumpkin that I am, born and bred in the New Forest, I thought I would impart some village dweller wisdom to those lesser informed.
The New Forest is a hot-spot for a good old country pub (think pie and ale propped up on a wooden bench). So to help visitors out, as they stumble past ponies and get wellies stuck in cattle grids, I’ve given you the gift of hidden gems to quench that exploration thirst.
Thank me later!
The Oak Inn
Nothing gets more countrified than The Oak Inn…but then again, I could say that about literally any of the pubs on this list. I also find it quite comical how nearly every pub on the list ends in ‘inn’ – tradition at its finest.
This pub is quite a hard find, nestled away in Lyndhurst. It’s a small, yet intimate place, perfect for a bar-prop session with pint in hand. However, if you’re planning on having a few – be warned, you’re in the middle of nowhere (or a short stumble to Lyndhurst’s not so lively lanes).
It’s an ideal little pub for seeing some of the wildlife the New Forest has to offer.
Where: Pinkney Lane, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FD
The Pilgrim Inn
It might just be me, but when I picture a true-to-tradition country pub, I have to throw a thatched roof on it and surrounded it by garden tables and grass. Queue The Pilgrim in Marchwood, a venue adorned by roaring log fires and a cosy interior, it’s a great spot for catching a ray or two in the beer garden or nestling down with a bottle of red.
Where: Hythe Road, Marchwood, Southampton SO40 4WU
A Haven for Isle-of-Wight views, (and literally called The Haven), this is a great place to catch some rays on the outdoor sun trap, whilst enjoying the wide selection of drinks on offer. Situated in Lymington’s boat haven, the panoramic views will have you lusting over a yacht or two as you’re literally surrounded by them. A short walk away from the solent, it’s a perfect pit-stop after a day’s sailing, and an absolute must-visit.
Where: King's Saltern Rd, Lymington, SO41 3QD
The East End Arms
The super-star of the line-up, The East End Arms was bought in 1990 by John Illsley, bass guitarist of Dire Straits. It’s got a relaxed atmosphere and is totally old school, but that’s just the way we like it.
Where: Main Road, East End, Lymington SO41 5SY
The King’s Head
An all-year-round pub, the King’s Head provides a must-have mulled wine at Christmas, and harbours all sorts of seasonal smells too, as families head in for holiday season roasts and Baileys. However, it’s also a great Summer hang-out situated on Lymington’s cobbles, or The Quay as it’s more fondly known. A stones throw from the High-Street this traditional pub has been a Lymington staple since day dot, and if you’re in the area, despite how small and quaint the pub is, go in and have a tipple or two.
Where: 1 Quay Hill, Lymington, SO41 3AR
The Fox and Hounds
So, if you did end up stumbling from The Oak Inn, and made it to Lyndhurst’s oldy-worldy high-street you’ll find The Fox and Hounds – does anything scream forest pub more than this name? It’s a busy little spot, and the centre-piece of the Lyndhurst high-street.
It’s rustic as can be, and serves fantastic casks and ales.
Where: 22 High St, Lyndhurst, SO43 7BG
The New Forest Inn
Well I just had to throw this one into the mix, firstly because its name is quite literally The New Forest Inn, and secondly because it’s a traditional 18th century country pub, with all the charm, donkeys, cows, pigs and ponies you need!
Where: 2 Boult Bee Cottages, Lyndhurst, SO43 7DY
The Monkey House
The drinking spot for many a Lymington local, the Monkey House is run by a very lively landlord who also wears a smile across his face. It’s a great spot for monkeying around post-work on a Friday and serves the tastiest Lymington gin.
Where: 167 Southampton Road, Lymington, SO41 9HA
The Hare and Hounds
Sway is quite a little place, and in fact every time I’ve frequented it, it’s been to visit this here pub. If you’re after tradition, The Hare and Hounds is where it’s at, as a 200 year old coaching inn with a whole host of character.
The pub has also played host to many a beer and music festival – quite a lively village for a little’un.
Where: Durnstown, Sway, Lymington, SO41 6AL