Holidaying with less mobile folk? Here's where to go, what to do, walks etc.
Here's the good news. The New Forest is mostly flat and with an older local population, in general, accessibility in the area, is pretty good.
Options for days out:
1. Definitely consider Exbury Gardens. The collection of rhodedendrons and azaleas is world renowned and in April and May quite extraordinary. Throughout the gardens, the tracks and walk ways are very well maintained and again, mostly flat. The views through the gardens and estate are superb, especially in spring and autumn. The mini steam train will entertain young and old. There is a good cafe for informal breaks and the toilet and baby changing facilities are as good as you'll find. Do take balance bikes for small children, and ride-on tractors etc won't be sniffed at either. Ask for wheelchairs or mobility scooters to hire. A mobility bus also runs in busy times.
2. Another excellent option is the Beaulieu Motor Museum and Palace Gardens. It's not the cheapest but it's a full day and there is definitely enough for everyone, including Granda and Gran to do - and no doubt they'll love reminiscing about the cars they used to drive as you wander along. There is masses for little people and everyone can ride the monorail train.
The tracks here are good. Some are small gravel. Most are tarmac. So prams and mobility vehicles, or those using a stick to walk won't have any nasty surprises.
The cafe here is good.
3. Another fun idea is a day trip to the Isle of Wight. You can take a car, but to be honest, going as a foot passenger is more fun.
Take the Lymington-Yarmouth passenger ferry over to the Isle of Wight. The trip over takes 25 minutes and is very pretty. You get a birds eye view of the Lymington marina area and the crossing is rarely unpleasantly wavy.
There are short but steep stairs (with good handrail) to get upto the second floor on the ferry.
Once there, we suggest heading on the very short walk (100 yards) to The George Hotel. A bastion of local smartness and with great views of the comings and goings into the harbour and right by the ferry port. The rest of the family can wander about and look at the few independent shops. It is a nice short walk (500 yards and back) from The George front door, to the end of the pier and back. And again all flat.
The George do great food. Great drinks. Has a superb view and excellent service.
4. There are a few options worth considering around Beaulieu.
A. If you can take two cars then non-walkers and walkers can start at different points and meet at Montagu Arms for a cream tea.
For those who want a longer walk (a hour and a half) then if they park at Bucklers Hard Agamemnon boat yard area, and walk up to Beaulieu on the river boardwalks and trails, they'll end up in the village near the park, just behind Montagu Arms Hotel. You can also park here in the Hotel parking. The longer walk is suitable for prams (take the gravel track away from the river for no mud, and the river trail for a bit of mud (not much but better with wellies). It's more interesting walking for 4's and up by the river.
B. An even simpler and shorter trip, the one with the least walking options here, is to visit Beaulieu Village. Park at Steph's Cafe, at Fairweathers Garden Centre. It's a great cafe and well regarded. You can eat here or do a bit of shopping. Opposite is a beautifully run, educational show garden showcasing interesting fruit and vegetable growing techniques and best practice gardening. It's well worth a visit and suitable for small children too. The walk to the show garden is flat from car park to show garden, but there is a little slope (about 10 metres gentle decline) into the show garden.
5. Tanners Lane beach party (without leaving the car). Very near the SO41 5SY postcode area.
Lastly, for no walking at all, you can drive onto a little beach called Tanners Lane about 3 miles east of Lymington.
We suggest taking champagne and a few treats in the car and watch the sunset from the car. Whilst the small's can go wild and run about on the beach.
6. Take a boat from Bucklers Hard down the Beaulieu River and back. Stop at the Maritime musumn there and go to the Master Builders Hotel for lunch or drinks.
The boat trip is about 20 minutes one way and you'll pass one of our houses Gins Barn as you go.
You can park in Bucklers Hard. The tracks are good and solid, (small gravel) and there is a gentle incline down to the harbour. You can drop guests off very close to the Master Builders Hotel (also a good pits stop for lunch and great views). There are some steps inside the hotel to get to the dining room. It's a 200 metre walk to the harbour from the hotel.
If you're staying in our houses in Keyhaven or Milford on Sea, take the boat from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle and lunch at the cafe there. Also very good and reasonable accessibility on the boat/walk. But definitely more need for balance than the Bucklers Hard trip.