Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to be one of a select few local business who were invited to a special social media day out on the New Forest Tour bus.
It was an organised event, (although we mingled and travelled with actual tourists throughout the day) for us to experience the tour bus first hand and share it with the world.
So we all met at the main car park bus stop in Lyndhurst at about 10.00am and introduced ourselves. There were representatives from Careys Manor Hotel & Spa , Ringwood Brewery, Shorefields Holiday Park, Daisybank Cottage B&B, New Forest Wildlife Park , Brand New Forest, The New Forest Tour, The New Forest, Cottage Lodge B&B, Camping in the Forest, New Forest National Park Authority
We started off on the Red route, this took us from Lyndhurst straight to Burley through some beautiful scenery and past lots of ponies enjoying the sunshine. Burley is the Brand New Forest Village of the Year - 2014 a well deserved award for a lovely village. If you read my blogs regularly you will know that I really like Burley and I wrote a blog all about it. Every time I go there - whatever time of year, it always has a village fate feeling about it and this time was no different. The weather was amazing which enticed some to buy a New Forest ice cream, others bought the handmade Burley Fudge.
This time I just went in search of ponies & deer. Burley is one of the few remaining villages with no cattle grids which allows the ponies and cattle to roam freely. It's always fun as a spectator to see the traffic held up by them.
Ordinarily if you stayed on the red route you would then continue onto Ringwood, Blashford Lakes, Fordingbridge, Sandy Balls Holiday Village, Ashurst, Longdown Dairy Farm, the New Forest Wildlife Park and then back to Lyndhurst.
On this trip we changed buses and picked up the Blue route
at the stop next to the famous Coven of Witches shop. On this leg of the trip we stayed on the bus for about an hour and enjoyed all the beautiful and diverse scenery that the New Forest has to offer, ranging from heathland, forest, coastal paths & beaches, wetlands & nature reserve and some beautiful old historic buildings like Hurst Castle.
This particular leg ended at the lovely Georgian town of Lymington, another one of my favourite places. We had just enough time to take in the pretty cobbled streets at the old quayside end of the village which looked amazing in the gorgeous weather we were so fortunate to be out in. Although I have to say, you still need a cardigan or light jacket on the open top as it does get windy and chilly, and don't worry about doing your hair before you get on - it's a waste of time lol!
If you stay a little longer, one of the things you can do is take the Puffin Cruises,
They depart regularly from the quay side and take you out into the Solent for panoramic views of the Isle of Wight and the National Park coastline. On a day like today it would have been amazing. There are many unique shops, tea rooms, there's a salt water Lido, children's play areas & quiet parks, 10 miles of nature reserve that you can walk through, and even a traditional street market on a Saturday. So much to do and see.
The running commentary that you get throughout all of the journey's is very informative and interesting, talking about the fascinating history of the area and special places of interest.
So after a short stop at Lymington we jumped on the Green route from the main bus station. This took us across country to Elmers Court Hotel, Beaulieu Motor Museum & village taking in the picturesque views of the Palace House across the lake and then some of the tranquil Beaulieu river, onto Exbury Gardens, then to Hythe
where the historic Pier train runs to the ferry that connects with Southampton, it's actually listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the oldest working pier train in the world!
From there we then cut across the open heathland over to Beaulieu Road Station - this particular part was extremely windy but still good fun.
Finally after an extremely enjoyable day out, we arrived back at Lyndhurst main car park.
This particular itinerary was chosen for us as an example of what you can do on the Tour bus. You can do more or less and in a different order if that's what you choose. You can even (if you choose) just sit on the bus all the way round and not visit anywhere, it would still be a good day out, but if you are able to get off you certainly experience a lot more and probably take away a little bit more of the forest with you.
All in all it was a perfect day out, the weather was amazing, the company of the other business's was a pleasure, ordinarily I would probably not have met these lovely people, so it was great to be brought together. The scenery was superb, you can't beat the view from the open top of a double decker bus, the whole event was very well organised and a great success as a social media event, as all of us couldn't stop Tweeting and Facebooking all day.
All that is left for me to say is a massive thank you to Shona, I would have recommended the tour anyway as I always do - but now I can share about all of the routes and attractions with confidence and enthusiasm as I can't stop myself from talking about it