New Forest: Your UK Family Summer Stay Sorted

New Forest
Bazaar's Louise, baby Kit and Welly the lab with the miniature gypsy caravan in the garden at The Ploughman's Cottage
Swap camels for ponies and the Arabian Gulf for the UK’s Solent on an outdoor escape in the New Forest

We’re not short of a sandy beach here in the Arabian Gulf, so when it came to planning my family summer getaway in the UK, I wanted a destination that offered greenery, nature and outdoor adventure of the muddiest kind. Lymington, in the New Forest in South West England’s Hampshire, is a handy one-and-a-half-hour drive from Heathrow airport and home to a wealth of rental houses that are perfect for rambunctious families. With a four-year-old, two-year-old and baby in tow, we were after somewhere that offered enough luxury for the adults to feel pampered, while not being terrified that my two-year-old would cause irreversible destruction at every turn. The lovely Rachel of New Forest Escapes came up with the perfect solution for us: The Ploughmans Cottage near Lymington. The four-bedroom main house is complemented by the Shed (more glamorous than it sounds), which houses an additional four-poster and twin-beds.

English interiors at The Ploughman's Cottage

The star of the show is undoubtedly the mini gypsy caravan in the garden, a haven for the children to host make-believe tea parties and a definite winner on my Instagram feed. Ponies wander freely outside – although my desert-born son did insist on referring to them as camels – adding to the Swallows and Amazons-vibe. A wealth of adventures await on the doorstep of The Ploughmans Cottage. Here are my family’s top five:

1. Take the ferry from nearby Lymington to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and enjoy strawberries and cream at the romantic George hotel by the ferry dock. Wightlink.co.uk; Thegeorge.co.uk

2. Eat at the next-door gastro pub The East End Arms, or get them to deliver and enjoy a slap-up meal in the cottage’s beautiful garden (babysitter not required). Eastendarms.co.uk

3. Go fairy-spotting at Woodside Park in Lymington. Tiny doors are built into the trunks of beautiful old trees, which my kids delighted in exploring. Lymington.com

Fairy-spotting in Lymington

4. Brave Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park, a 35-minute drive away. The kids will thank you for it and some of the bigger rides in the non-Peppa area of the theme park are just as much fun for adults. Paultonspark.co.uk

5. Our best day was spent cycling round Moors Valley country park with its cute steam railway, epic adventure playground and augmented reality Gruffalo Spotters Trail. Moors-valley.co.uk

Gruffalo-spotting at Moors Valley

From Dhs4,000 for a two-night stay; Newforestescapes.com

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New Forest
New Forest
Bazaar's Louise, baby Kit and Welly the lab with the miniature gypsy caravan in the garden at The Ploughman's Cottage