Lianne Kolirin heads to the New Forest for an active break with her boys
There are few things in life that cannot be sorted with a break to a country cottage. The typically British home from home is an instant antidote to the sensory overload of city life, particularly when it’s surrounded by glorious countryside.
Just a two-hour drive from London, the New Forest doubles as both an oasis of calm and a Mecca for adrenaline junkies. And with a brood in tow, self-catering makes perfect sense. Our cottage, complete with obligatory log fire, was located on a quiet country lane in Burley, in the south-west of the forest. Hardly a booming metropolis anyway, the tucked-away spot granted us pure peace, aside from the clip-clopping of horses that passed by.
While our three boys were more than happy to huddle around the fireplace sipping hot chocolate and playing board games, we did manage to persuade them to venture out.
This was our maiden cycling voyage en famille. With more than 100 miles of cycle paths, the New Forest is the perfect place to get pedalling. The friendly staff at New Forest Activities armed us with our bikes and sent us on our way. We powered through crisp woodland and green meadows, stopping intermittently for a family selfie. We were aiming for Buckler’s Hard, a historical shipbuilding village on the banks of the Beaulieu River which you can take a tour of.
The river was an irresistible temptation, so we booked ourselves onto a kayaking session. Our instructor (who also indulged us with a spot of archery) spent hours guiding us along the river, the banks of which are studded with the homes of the wealthy and well-known.
Pedalling, paddling and shooting make for hungry work, so it’s just as well there are plenty of pubs to dine in, including The Three Tuns in Bransgore. While my other half and I would have been happy to hang out there for another couple of hours, the boys were keen to get back to explore our holiday home.
With all that energy spent so fast, the rest of the break was a little more low key – country walks, gentle pony rides and trips to the Setley Ridge Farm shop, which is packed with arts and crafts, and a wide selection of home-cooked meals and fantastic fudge that our boys were only too happy to sample.
A seven-night stay at Oak Tree Cottage (sleeps five) from £490 per week. newforestcottages.co.uk