Area Guides

Beat The Blues: What’s On In The New Forest This Winter

Forget “In the Bleak Midwinter,” we prefer “Winter Wonderland” because winter isn’t all rain and gloom, in fact the New Forest National Park is beautiful year-round and winter is the ideal time to escape ‘everyday’ life for a weekend break (or longer).

During the darker, shorter days, having something to look forward to can really lift the spirits. Festive events, Christmas shopping, spa breaks or indulgent afternoon teas are all goers, whatever the weather, but even the simplicity of a tranquil getaway in the New Forest with no plans can do wonders for the winter blues. A dose of ‘Shinrin-yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’, known to lower levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, and a good measure of R&R, self-care, and restoration. Maybe a spa session, good sleep and nourishing food is just what your mind and body need in the middle of winter, which we understand can sometimes feel rather long.

So, here are a few ways you can beat the winter blues…

Get moving this winter

Winter walks

What’s the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing,” well, if you do bring your waterproofs, just in case, and wrap up warm, there really is nothing better than a lovely winter walk through our ancient forest, whether it’s a crisp blue-sky day or a drizzly one, spend hours exploring then come in and warm up, in front of the roaring fire or in the spa at SenSpa.

Cycle hire

Perhaps you’d prefer something a little faster to get the blood pumping on a crisp winter’s day. Bike hire is available year-round from Cyclexperience based in our village of Brockenhurst; with helmets, maps and bike locks provided and a free guiding app with recommended cycle routes through the forest. Wrap up, hire a bike and head out for a winter adventure, at the end of a fun day, you can come in, put your feet up and refuel your body with delicious food and find all the comfort you need at our welcoming Hampshire hotel.

Winter paddling

Embrace the chill of winter and take to the water for a Christmas Canoe Paddle with New Forest Activities. A most tranquil time of year for a water-based adventure, layer up and hop in the Canadian-style canoe for a wonderful 90-minute guided tour along the Beaulieu River exploring the beautiful reserve and spotting birds and wildlife as you paddle. You’ll also enjoy hot drinks and mince pies and you should keep an eye open for Father Christmas!

Slow things down

Nourish the body, and so the mind

This winter, if all you want to do is rest and refuel, then go where the mood takes you. You have the choice between our three distinctive restaurants; if the flavours of France take your fancy then look no further than Le Blaireau for some classic dishes and your own little slice of Paris, or perhaps something to warm you on a cold winter’s day, Zen Garden’s Thai spices, and unforgettable flavours to transport you to Thailand without any of the jetlag. And last but certainly not least, Cambium, modern British dishes created from seasonal, local ingredients and flavours inspired by the globe.

Self-care and restoration

For many creatures winter is a time of hibernation, yet we, despite being cyclic by nature, sometimes expect ourselves to retain the same pace and energy year-round. Maybe sometimes all the body needs during winter is to simply rest, stay warm and find comfort.

Getting away from everyday stimulus and distractions, especially during the winter period, can help to clear the mind. Seeking things that are going to aid relaxation, better sleep, or desire for time in nature – this can be achieved with a sensehacking break or even a day where you consciously disconnect from your life stresses to reconnect with yourself, with nature and importantly, with your senses. You can do this by mixing up the scenery, the sounds, the aromas, and the temperature.

During winter we don’t often recognise the impact the lower temperatures have on already tense muscles. So, from experiencing ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing’ which has shown to improve mood and mindfulness and reduce blood pressure, to stepping into the spa, SenSpa, and allowing the fragrance of our signature blend to envelop you. At SenSpa, you can reawaken the senses and restore inner balance. Find time to simply relax, feel your shoulders drop and tension ease as you take to our hydrotherapy pool, alternating between hot and cold water to aid circulation and soothe muscles, and the Alphasphere deluxe; an extraordinary and unique sensory experience incorporating sound therapy, colour therapy, aromatherapy, and vibration to promote deep relaxation and regenerate the body and mind.

Get together

Forget last minute shopping and the sometimes stresses of the festive season and rediscover the spirit of winter – a time of celebration and togetherness. Whether you’re getting together with work colleagues for a traditional Christmas party or sitting down to a festive dinner with friends and family, make it count and leave the stress behind.

Invite your guests to us and while we host, you can simply enjoy the party, the people, and the delicious feast. From a glittering Christmas Ball or a French-style soirée to intimate private lunches and dinners, you’ll find nothing but a merry winter atmosphere and the spirit of celebration when you book a festive gathering at our 18th century manor house hotel in the heart of the New Forest.

Looking for something more indulgent for a chilly winter’s day… What about a delectable afternoon tea, the perfect way to get together or catch up with old friends. Make yourself comfortable in front of the fire in our cosy lounge and spend an afternoon enjoying a mouth-watering selection of finely cut sandwiches, speciality cakes and of course, freshly baked scones ready to be smothered in New Forest Jam and thick clotted cream. There’s a delightful selection of silk prism teas from Birchalls’ or Fair Trade coffee but as you might already know, a glass of bubbly also goes awfully well with a scone. It is the festive season after all!