Our second day on our English countryside adventure was to be a pretty varied and relaxed day. Starting off making use of some more John Lewis Perks and then exploring the beautiful New Forest and South Coast area.
We Started off with our full English breakfast and then took a walk around the grounds of the Abbas. The Rainstorms that had effected yesterday had been forecast to vanish for the next few days and a return to the heatwave of the last month. By 10 pm it was nothing but blue skies and soaring temps. We picked up our Picnic lunch (Provided by the hotel) and headed off to the Water Gardens.
Another part of the Leckford Estate is the world-class Water Gardens of Longstock. Built by John Speden Lewis (Founder of the John Lewis Partnership) These beautiful gardens are open to the public only on very rare occasions. They consist of large shallow lakes/ponds fed by the crystal clear water of the river test. They are well manicured and lined with an array of fantastic plants from around the world.
As guests of Leckford Abbas, we were lucky enough to be given a key to explore and enjoy the gardens all by ourselves. It really was a complete joy to have the whole area to ourselves. Unfortunately short of getting a job with the John Lewis Partnership this is not available to most people. But it is still nice to be able to share a few snaps of the blissfully peaceful gardens and waterways.
If you would like to visit the Gardens yourself they open for charity days on select days of the year see here for more details.
Leckford Farm Shop
After an hour or so in the Gardens, we headed up to the Leckford Farm Shop and Cafe. We were not planning on eating so didn’t try the cafe. To be Honest the Farm shop was a little disappointing. We expected a lot more produce from the actual estate but found very little and it was mainly branded from the surrounding area that can be bought from most shops. So we didn’t stay long before heading off for the coast and the tiny hamlet of Beaulieu.
This little village is really an unspoilt English setting that takes you back to a different time. Set upon the Tidal Beaulieu river that flows into the English channel it is a really fantastic location. After struggling to find anywhere to park up. We set up our picnic on a park bench and enjoyed sandwiches and Fizz by the river in the glorious sunshine. A really nice way to spend lunch. And very different from most picnics we have where we are forced to cower from the wind and rain!
After Lunch, we headed off into the New Forest National Park. This is a vast track of open heath and ancient forest in the south of England. It has been a protec5ted area since 1079 (not a Typo!). The forest is home to numerous rare plants and animals and is home to the Iconic New Forest Pony. While the Ponies are technically owned they are to all intents an purposes wild and simply roam around the heaths and woodlands as they see fit. It is one of the only places in the UK you can See wild Horses so it is great to see them roaming around, paying scant regard for the traffic!
We made fleeting visits to the towns of Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, and Lymington as we toured around and made plenty of stops to see the Ponies Donkeys and Deer that inhabit the area. We then headed back to the Abbas to make maximum use of the Honesty bar. And afternoon on the sun terrace before another fantastic 3-course dinner then drinks as we watched the sun disappear over the horizon before bed before another busy day