Less than five miles from the 2022 Dogstival site lies a land of promise for you and your dog: the New Forest National Park. Straddling the border between Hampshire and Wiltshire, the New Forest is Britain’s second smallest national park and one of its youngest – it only officially received the accolade in 2005 – but it’s also one of the most diverse destinations for a holiday in the UK. Despite its relatively small size – it covers just 580km2 – it has an astonishing array of things to see and do, and a surprisingly varied landscape. While there is indeed plenty of woodland here, with oak, ash and beech making up most of its treescape, it also features pasture, moorland and shingle beaches.
Why not make the most of your Dogstival weekend and spend some time exploring the New Forest. From the brand-new Dog-Friendly Weekends guidebook, which features 50 breaks in Britain for you and your dog, here are some of the best days out nearby:
Enjoy the Beaulieu Estate
More like a theme park than a country estate, Beaulieu – a 15-minute drive southeast of Lyndhurst – started out as an impressive Victorian home surrounded by beautiful gardens and grounds. Those gardens are still a lovely place to stroll with the dog – the Millpond Walk by the tidal river is most picturesque – and you can explore the Victorian kitchen gardens and flower beds with your pet on a lead, not to mention enjoy glorious views of the gothic Palace House. While dogs can’t enter the indoor areas, there is a designated space for tying them up if you’re happy to do so; alternatively, take it in turns to head inside to explore the National Motor Museum and World of Top Gear.
Visit Exbury Gardens
With over 35km of footpaths to pound, Exbury is a superb spot for a dog walk. This vast garden has a brilliant collection of tropical plants, colourful rhododendrons and elegant wisteria,and there’s also a fun little steam train that trundles along a narrow-gauge railway through woodland, around a small pond, over a bridge and through a tunnel – a great activity for kids (and dogs) with weary feet.
Explore Hurst Castle
Perched on the end of a coastal spit near the village of Milford on Sea, this fortress was established by Henry VIII and added to extensively during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was key in defending the area during the Napoleonic Wars and World War II, and today you can visit for spectacular ocean views and an insight into Victorian defence systems. You can’t drive out to the castle, so park in Milford on Sea and walk the 3km along the spit, or take the ferry from nearby Keyhaven.
Paddle about with New Forest Activities
See the New Forest from an alternative perspective on a guided canoeing trip along the Beaulieu River. You can bring the dog in canoes for up to four people, and your guide will offer commentary on the local flora and fauna, as well as the history of the area.
Don’t mind travelling a little further afield?
North of Dogstival’s Broadlands Estate lies a pair of cities well worth exploring while you’re in this gorgeous part of the world. Salisbury is all historic buildings, ancient hill forts and a world-famous cathedral where the dog’s allowed inside, too, while Winchester offers enchanting architecture so pretty it inspired Keats, plus heritage railway adventures and charming old pubs.
Get more information from Lottie Gross’s brand new guidebook, Dog-Friendly Weekends: 50 breaks in Britain for you and your dog, and use code DOGSTIVAL25 to get 25% off the RRP.