Not far from Southampton lies the unassuming and picturesque village of Ashurst, perched right on the edge of the National Park. Known as the gateway to the New Forest, it’s a lively place that has seen a rise in population over the last 100 years due to its prime location and excellent train links.
The train station is on the Waterloo to Weymouth line making Ashurst easy to get to, while the village makes a fabulous base for exploring both the nearby walks and the plentiful activities within the surrounding countryside. The village itself is host to several pubs, shops, businesses, and restaurants.
The parish was originally made up of three settlements, but in 1920 it became known as the parish of Ashurst and Colbury. Despite being close to the edge of the New Forest, Ashurst is unusual in that it opens out onto the heathland, rivers, wetlands and woodland to the east and leads to deeper woodland that surrounds the Beaulieu River.
Some of the best alder and birch woodland can be found here and this, along with the wetland, allows amazing opportunities to see some wild birds, insects and flowers, along with the usual grazing locals.
What to do
Walking is the main activity of visitors to this village with many mapped-out walks stating varying degrees of difficulty around the New Forest National Park.
There are opportunities to experience wildlife in a different way too, as less than two miles from the centre of Ashurst is the New Forest Wildlife Park in Longdown. It’s a great day out for all the family with the chance to see lynx, owls, otters and wolves up close.
For a reptilian adventure, the New Forest Reptile Centre is only half a mile from the train station, while the Longdown Activity Farm, on Deerleap Lane on the outskirts of the village, is somewhere you can bottle-feed kid goats and calves or hold fluffy, new-born chicks. There’s a farm shop for tasty and wholesome treats and a bumpy tractor ride to enjoy, too.
Where to eat and drink
There is a veritable plethora of places to choose from in the village or a short drive away when eating out. Half of the fun lies in the discovery sometimes, but to point you in the right direction we can recommend a few. The New Forest Inn is a cosy pub with a log fire inside and a beer garden outside and is right next to the train station in Ashurst. It serves delicious and generously portioned roast dinners in a cheerful, warm and friendly atmosphere.
Merritt Coffee Lounge on Lyndhurst Road near the post office is a lovely little cafe with an interesting decor, the perfect place to stop for coffee and cake. Parking nearby is limited, but there is a free car park less than 100 yards away. The Happy Cheese, a quaintly named family-friendly pub, is a stone’s hurl away from the train station and serves multi-coloured ice-cream! It is also vegetarian and dog-friendly.
Where to stay
You’re spoilt for choice with places to stay in this area and, as this is walking country, many are also child and dog-friendly.
There is plenty of accommodation with sea or river views, from luxury houses for the whole family to cosy hideaways for you and your loved one, the perfect property is waiting for you right here in the New Forest.
Come and stay at The Coach House Cottage - Lyndhurst - sleeping four guests, this charming cottage on the outskirts of Lyndhurst is a great base to explore all that the New Forest has to offer. A footpath from the cottage leads you into the forest and there are a variety of shops and pubs only a short stroll from the property. If you are bringing your dog on holiday, they will love the garden and they even have their own wicker doggy bed and bowls ready for their arrival!
Just down the road is Bench Cottage, sleeping seven guests and one lucky dog. This traditional red-bricked cottage with sash windows and pretty flowers around the front door is a delight to pull up to after a tiring drive. Overlooking one of the forest's historic landmark, Bolton's Bench, it is also only a short walk to Lyndhurst as well as Peppa Pig World if you have little ones with you, looking for a day out with their favourite TV character! The pretty twin bedroom has views out to the New Forest where you can spot the semi-wild ponies strolling by looking for their next grazing spot - you couldn't get more New Forest if you tried.
Check out our full range of New Forest cottages to find your perfect place to stay.
How to get there
By Car: Ashurst is situated off the A35 between Southampton and Lyndhurst. If you leave the M27 at Junction 3 and turn onto M271 towards Southampton and the Docks, after a short while, you will need to then turn right at the end of this road and onto the A35. Follow in the direction of Lyndhurst and you soon arrive in Ashurst.
By Rail: Ashurst rail station has trains from London and Poole arriving at 40mins past the hour in both directions.
By Bus: The Bluestar 6 bus runs between Southampton and Lymington stopping at Ashurst hourly Monday to Saturday and two hourly on Sundays - click here for timetables.