A history of witches and smugglers awaits you in the New Forest village of Burley; a location surrounded by glorious open heathland and wildlife.
The village is a fascinating place, and still practices the thousand-year-old New Forest tradition of “commoning” – whereby ponies and cattle freely roam around the village. This has even led Burley Fire Station to insert a cattle grid at its entrance, ensuring there are no uninvited guests getting in the way of the firefighters!
Burley is a wonderful base for an active holiday, with cycle shops and a golf club offering some fantastic New Forest activities, while you’ll also find all the amenities you need in everyday life. A post office, newsagents, and village stores are all in the village, alongside a few rather special places we’ll uncover in this guide.
What to do:
There aren’t many better ways to get around the New Forest than by bicycle – and Burley is the perfect place to start your two-wheeled journey. Based right the heart of the village is Forest Leisure Cycling, a wonderful New Forest Cycle Shop and Hire Centre which has everything you need to start your bike ride. It’s close to the huge network of National Park trails, while the staff there are wonderfully helpful, ready to answer any questions you may have.
If you’d rather someone else did the work on your foray around the area, may we suggest Burley Wagon Rides? The Burley-based business allows you to see the New Forest at a leisurely pace, with horse-drawn rides venturing through the village into the nearby woodland. There are options of 20-minute drives to up to an-hour-and-a-half, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of fallow deer, red deer and New Forest ponies.
Just outside the village, you’ll find Burley Golf Club, which welcomes visitors to come and enjoy its nine-hole course, while there are also a variety of gift shops in the area to while away some time. One of the finest is Face The Music, which sells wonderful music-related gifts, while it’s not unusual to see witch-related gifts and ornaments in other shops. This is due to the village having a long connection with witches; most recently, during the 1950s, a self-style witch named Sybil Leek lived in the village and was often seen walking around with her pet jackdaw on her shoulder!
Where to eat and drink:
When it comes to lovely eateries, Burley has plenty of unique choices. Before we get on to the pubs and restaurants in the area, we wanted to showcase a handful of smaller establishments, each of which has a unique offering.
If you’ve a sweet-tooth, Burley Fudge should be the first place on your list. Their handmade confectionary offers up everything from traditional clotted cream fudge, all the way through to more adventurous flavours including chilli chocolate. They also have a selection of gift ideas, perfect to take home for friends and family!
At The Cider Pantry you can of course sample some delicious New Forest Cider! If it’s a quick bite you’re after to refuel before heading off to explore, we recommend a cream tea; scones with raisin and cider, with clotted cream and jam.
Another great pitstop is Burley Licious, whose home-made cakes are delivered in generous portions, while The Old Farmhouse Restaurant and Tea Rooms and The Old Station House Tea Rooms at Holmsley are also well worth a visit to whet your whistle or cure any hunger pangs.
The pubs and restaurants are equally as inviting, with plenty of history to boot. The Burley Inn serves food from noon up until 9pm with a fantastic roast on Sundays, while The White Buck, a Fullers establishment, is a charming country house which offers a range of beers, ciders, wines and soft drinks, while its extensive menu also caters for all ages and tastes.
The village was also previously a haunt for smugglers, and during recent renovation work, a secret cellar was found in The Queens Head pub! Pistols, coins, and other unusual items were discovered in the establishment, which dates back to 1685. Its main menu has plenty of homely dishes, perfect for an evening meal.
Where to stay:
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.
Many are dog-friendly, ensuring you won’t need to leave your pet at home, while there is also plenty of accommodation with sea or river views.
Check out the full range of New Forest cottages by clicking this link.
How to get there:
Burley is on the western edge of the New Forest, five miles south-east of Ringwood. It has excellent access from both the A31 and A35 – just enter BH24 4AB in your satnav to head for the centre of the village.
Direct trains run to the New Forest from London Waterloo, Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth. The nearest stations are Sway, Hinton Admiral and New Milton, all of which have busses running regularly to Burley.
Coaches also regularly drive through the New Forest, with National Express services stopping at Lyndhurst, Lymington and Ringwood. Again, from here you’ll need to catch a bus to Burley.
Map of Burley, New Forest:
Inspired to visit the New Forest, but not sold on Burley? Take a look at the rest of our properties around the region.