It’s thought that it never rains in the New Forest. Actually, we do have the odd shower, but being bordered by the South Coast. According to official climatic statistics, New Forest has more rain free days than other areas of the country. However, there are only clouds up above, but not trouble ahead.
Tip, we all know the old adage about cows laying down linked with the possibility of rain. Well if you scan the horizon and are unable to spot a New Forest pony out in the open, dig out that mac and brolly. New Forest ponies are particularly astute at forecasting bad weather. They will often mooch off to find shelter in the woods long before the storm or windy squalls actually arrive. They don’t mind a bit of drizzle, but anything more serious and they are off. Tout de suite.
To cover a rainy day on holiday, have a little back up plan all ready to go and then organise the troops. If rain looks set for the day, the best idea is too choose one location that has several options, rather than driving around all day looking for inspiration. Here are three wet weather destinations.
An easy location to access from all parts of the New Forest. There is something for everyone here, even in the rain. First call, Russell Coates Art Gallery and Museum. Very family friendly, it has an activity area, super café with children’s meals on offer, and the best bit, it is situated right by the beach. If the sun decides to break through, you can have a quick sprint and a paddle. Entry to the Museum is free, but you will be happy to make a donation just because it really is a one off, forget stuffy old museums. This is fun.
Bournemouth has good shops, beach hut hire for the day, a funky artificial Reef for surfing, award winning Littledown Centre has great facilities for all the family with a large swimming pool with fun flumes for the kids, swimming lanes for the adults and a baby pool, so you will get wet one way or another. Drift in to one of the big hotels and indulge in a delicious and calorie packed High Tea.
Again, an easy distance from most parts of the New Forest. Wall to wall history on offer here and a good little spot for dodging inclement weather. The Cathedral itself offers shelter from the elements (excellent food in the Cloister Café) and the green is surrounded by a wealth of ancient buildings. The National Trust property, Mompesson House is worth a visit, often used as a film location, so step back in to Sense and Sensibility.
Whilst looking for your own Mr. Darcy in the picturesque Cathedral green, make a stop at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. 5000 years of history and the home of the award-winning Stonehenge Gallery.
Back again to the Cathedral for choral evensong. A wonderful experience and very atmospheric – this takes place every day and is a concert in itself, open to all.
Beaulieu Motor Museum, Palace and Abbey. Deep pockets required here, a family ticket will set you back £46 but if fact this is a perfect wet weather option because you can come back for FREE within six days, so go for a second visit on a drier day where you can take advantage of the Mono rail, Vintage Bus rides, Go Karts and plenty more.
So for the rainy day scenario, you have the Beaulieu Motor museum that even for non petrol heads holds the imagination and there is a lot more to it than just a collection of old motors. Next, on to Palace House and have a good nose around in someone else’s stately home.
If it does rain on you during your stay in The New Forest, Nil Desperandum. Remember its that gentle shower that keeps the forest verderant and lush, plus providing essential water in the streams for the wildlife. We do find that the biggest issue with our weather down here is the changeability, often within the same hour, so pack accordingly. But there is a lot to be said for a evening stroll along a forest byway, where the recent rain has brought out all the colours and aroma of nature, honeysuckle, fresh fern, autumnal fruit and nuts.
Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who represents a number of UK businesses. For New Forest holiday accommodation, he recommends New Forest Living, a leading provider of cottages for rent in the New Forest area.