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Fordingbridge is a small town in Hampshire, on the northwestern edge of the New Forest National Park. The town itself is mostly known for its 13th-century bridge over the River Avon, but the nearby villages of Breamore and Rockbourne each have sights of their own, from the remains of a 2000-year old mansion, to a fascinating agricultural museum. Meanwhile, the surrounding countryside of farmland and forest offers some great outdoor pursuits, chief among them fishing, riding and watersports.

Understand[edit]

The River Avon and Great Bridge

The River Avon that flows through these parts is not the same river that Shakespeare's Stratford is upon, nor is it the one that goes through Bath and Bristol. Avon is in fact a Celtic word meaning "river", but the irony of naming several watercourses in their newly-conquered country "River River" was lost on the Anglo-Saxons. This Avon rises in the Wiltshire downs, flows lazily past Stonehenge and south through Salisbury to Fordingbridge, from where it meanders on to meet the sea near Christchurch. It is a quintessential southern English chalk stream, with water clear as glass and high numbers of fish, particularly brown trout, pike and perch.

There has been a crossing over the Avon here in the form of a ford or a bridge for longer than the records go back, but the current seven-arched stone Great Bridge was built in the 13th century, and widened and reinforced in the 19th. The bridge was once an important access point to the New Forest, so much so that the lord of the manor was for many centuries charged with ensuring no poachers smuggled venison out of the forest by means of the bridge.

The celebrated Welsh portrait artist Augustus John lived in Fordingbridge for over 30 years until his death in 1961. The polyamorous John fathered at least seven children, and it is said that even as an old man he used to affectionately pat the head of every Fordingbridge kid he passed, just in case. Evidently he still inspires a good deal of local pride, as not only have they erected a statue to him, they've also named a pub and even a whole new neighbourhood after him.

Fordingbridge is a typical small Hampshire town, with a population of around 6,000. It was a market town in the medieval era, but those days of regional importance are far behind it. The laidback town centre is not especially lovely, but there are some old buildings of note such as the parish church and an Art Deco cinema. Most of the shops are independents rather than chains, making Fordingbridge a good place to shop for local produce.

North of Fordingbridge, two outlying parishes covered by this article are definitely worth your time: Breamore has a Tudor mansion with several attractions on its estate; Rockbourne is an idyllic village that's home to an excavated Roman villa.

Tourist information[edit]

Get in[edit]

On the northwestern edge of the New Forest and very close to the borders with Dorset and Wiltshire, Fordingbridge is 12 miles (19 km) south of the cathedral city of Salisbury.

Map of Fordingbridge

By car[edit]

By far the best means of reaching Fordingbridge, not least because most of the area's attractions are out of the town. The A338 Salisbury to Bournemouth road passes just to the east of the town centre. At Ringwood, 6 miles (9.7 km) further south, the road meets the A31 trunk road, which most traffic from the Southampton, Dorchester and London directions will use to access the area.

The main 1 car park can be accessed via (and is signposted from) Shaftesbury Street. For satnavs, use the postcode "SP6 1AQ".

By public transport[edit]

Fordingbridge lost its railway line in the 1960s, and the nearest station is now at Salisbury, which receives trains from towns and cities across southern Britain, including London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. See Salisbury#By train for more details.

The Salisbury Reds bus service X3 runs from Salisbury's main square to Bournemouth via Fordingbridge and Ringwood. Adult fares are around £5 for a single and £7.50 for a return; pay by cash or contactless. The bus runs every 30 min for most of M-Sa; an hourly service operates before 9AM and after 7PM on these days, and all day on Su and public holidays. Journey times are: from Salisbury 25 min; from Ringwood 15 min; from Bournemouth 1 hr. Drop-off and pick-up at Fordingbridge is at the 2 Post Office bus stop on Salisbury Street, two minutes' walk from the information centre and museum.

On foot[edit]

The Avon Valley Path is a 34-mile (55-km) trail linking Salisbury to Christchurch via Fordingbridge, broadly following the River Avon through pretty Hampshire and Wiltshire countryside.

Get around[edit]

Fordingbridge is a small town that any able-bodied person can comfortably navigate on foot.

If you're visiting attractions in the surrounding area, you need your own motorised transport as aside from the X3, there's no local public transport to speak of. Even the New Forest's famously dense warren of cycling trails seems to have almost completely bypassed Fordingbridge and what cycle routes there are, are shared with road vehicles.

  • Express Cars Fordingbridge, +44 1425 650 000. Private hire taxis, the only firm in town.

See[edit]

The town of Fordingbridge will likely only take half a day at most to explore, but the nearby villages of Breamore and Rockbourne each merit their own side trips.

Fordingbridge[edit]

St Mary's, Fordingbridge
  • 1 Great Bridge, Bridge Street, SP6 1AH. One of only two bridges in the UK with seven arches, this is a pretty spot to take in the river. If the constant stream of traffic puts you off, you can get a more peaceful view of the ancient crossing from Riverside Park.
  • 2 Augustus John Statue, Bridge Street, SP6 1AH (on the right river bank, just north of the bridge). Grade II-listed bronze sculpture of the Fordingbridge artist, by Ivor Roberts-Jones. In contrast to many overidealised memorial statues, John is depicted as rather showing his age, looking unsteady on his feet, albeit still brimming with passion and something akin to defiance.
  • 3 Fordingbridge Museum, King’s Yard, Salisbury Street, SP6 1AB (next to the tourist office), +44 1425 655 222, . Easter-Halloween M-Sa 11AM-4PM. Volunteer-run museum which, over two floors of a former granary, packs in displays on almost every aspect of local life and history you could think of: small businesses, archive photos, Augustus John, town life during the Victorian and wartime eras, the local footie club... Free, donations welcome. Fordingbridge Museum Trust (Q59536579) on Wikidata
  • 4 St Mary's Church, Fordingbridge, Church Street, SP6 1BB, +44 1425 653 163, . Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Anglo-Saxon St Mary's was rebuilt from circa 1150 until 1230 by the Normans. It's attractive, if fairly typical of rural churches in the region, with the main historical interest being two memorials: one to Charles Chubb, the locksmith and safe manufacturer; the other to James Seton, a young man whose sad claim to fame is for being the last person to be killed in a duel on English soil, in 1845. St Mary's Church, Fordingbridge (Q7594329) on Wikidata St Mary's Church, Fordingbridge on Wikipedia

Breamore[edit]

Breamore (say "Bremmer") is 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Fordingbridge, on the A338 Salisbury Road whose traffic rather spoils this otherwise attractive village's atmosphere. However, while there are undoubtedly some pretty cottages and a set of stocks to photograph as you pass through, the main attractions here are north-west of the village proper, on the estate of Breamore House. By car, follow the brown signs from the main road, or by bus the X3 drops you by the village hall, about a mile's walk from the house.

  • 5 Breamore House, SP6 2DF, +44 1725 512 858, . Apr and Oct: Tu, Su noon-5:30PM; May-Sept: Tu-Th Su noon-5:30PM; and open bank holidays throughout the year. An Elizabethan (late 16th century) manor house with very fine period furniture, paintings, and tapestries. Each of the main rooms is seemingly frozen in a particular era, from the Tudor great hall and bedrooms, to the Stuart dining room and Regency-era drawing rooms. The house was built on the site of an Augustinian monastery, a victim of the Reformation, and has been in the hands of the Hulse family for nine generations. The ground floor is accessible to wheelchair users. Adult £9.50, senior £8, child (5-15 years) £6, under 5 free. Breamore House (Q4959727) on Wikidata Breamore House on Wikipedia
Breamore House
  • 6 St Mary's Church, Breamore, +44 1425 653 163, . A handsome flint church whose external architecture has scarcely been altered since the 10th century, having survived a millennium during which almost every other Saxon church in the country was extensively modified by successive generations of 'improvers' who thought they knew better. The insides were messed with a bit more, yet many of the original features remain. Look out for an exceedingly rare example of a surviving Old English inscription, above a sturdy arched doorway, along with an equally old and rare 'rood' (depiction of Jesus on the cross) and other ancient wall paintings. It's no exaggeration to say that this is one of England's most historically important churches. Free. Breamore#St Mary's Church on Wikipedia
  • 7 Countryside Museum. Open same days as house, 1PM-5PM. The comprehensive collection of steam-powered farm machinery, including a gorgeous red traction engine called "The Dreadnought", is just the start. This museum brings Breamore life as it was 100+ years ago into the present day with a replica farm worker's cottage, and faithful recreations of numerous village amenities: the schoolroom, smithy, dairy, brewery, the wheelwright's shop, the saddler's shop, a laundry... Fully accessible to wheelchair users. Included in entry to Breamore House, or if just visiting museum: adult £4, senior £3.50, child (5-15 years) £3, under 5 free.
  • 8 Breamore Mizmaze (1 mi (1.6 km) on foot from house. Walk left of the clock tower, enter the woods and climb uphill until you reach the top, bear left through a clump of yew trees and you'll see the maze.). Accessible daily, during daylight hours. A medieval turf maze in a grove of yew trees atop Breamore Down, one of only two surviving examples in England. Composed of concentric rings which lead to the centre and bisected by a Christian cross, it is believed to have been created by the monks of Breamore Priory, who apparently crawled to the middle on their knees while praying as penitence. The maze is fenced off, so you can't try it out, but you can see all of it and the hike to get there offers some fab views over the countryside. Free - not necessary to purchase entry to the estate. Mizmaze on Breamore Down (Q17641056) on Wikidata Mizmaze#Breamore Mizmaze on Wikipedia

Rockbourne[edit]

4 mi (6.4 km) north-west of Fordingbridge, the prosperous village of Rockbourne makes a pleasant half-day trip. The archaeological remains of a Roman villa are the main attraction, and are reached just before the village on a drive from Fordingbridge via Station Road and Rockbourne Road.

Hypocausts provided underfloor heating and hot bathwater to Rockbourne's Romans
  • 9 Rockbourne Roman Villa, Rockbourne Road, SP6 3PG, +44 1725 518 541, . This luxurious courtyard villa was built during the first five centuries of the common era, and subsequently vanished beneath the earth before being rediscovered by a farmer's dog in 1942. The few visible remains include an excavated portion of hypocaust and some wonderfully-preserved mosaic. The adjacent museum houses other Roman objects discovered at the villa and in the local area: tools, pottery, a hoard of coins, a mysterious skeleton, and two 3rd-century milestones with Latin inscription. Kids can make their own mosaic and dress up as a centurion. On-site café and picnic area. Adult £4.50, concession £3.50, child (5-15 years) £2.25, under 5 free. Rockbourne Roman Villa (Q7354971) on Wikidata Rockbourne Roman Villa on Wikipedia

The villa and museum will take no more than an hour or two, but it would be a shame to leave without seeing the charming village, best accomplished on foot. A walk from the villa car park up the lane to the brilliant Rose and Thistle pub (see below) is a mile each way and allows you to see the best of Rockbourne's thatched brick-and-timber cottages and well-tended gardens. Running parallel to a chalk stream called Sweatfords Water, the lane is very quiet with little traffic, which is just as well because there's no pedestrian path. If fly fishing is more your thing, a few hours at Rockbourne Trout Fishery (downstream on Sweatfords Water, see below) may be just the ticket.

Elsewhere[edit]

  • Alderholt Mill on Sandleheath Rd has been restored and also has B&B accommodation, see Sleep.

Do[edit]

Thanks to its proximity to the New Forest National Park, there is a lot of open space in and around Fordingbridge and a variety of activities to suit most interests.

Fordingbridge[edit]

  • 1 Riverside Park (Fordingbridge Park or Recreation Ground), Ringwood Road, SP6 1AN (left bank of the river, off Bridge Street). Daily 8AM-7PM. Despite not knowing what to call itself, this has pretty much everything you'd want from a small town park: a decent-sized playground, sports pitches, a snack kiosk that makes its own ice lollies, and even a shingle beach where you can paddle or swim in the languid waters of the Avon.
    • Fishing (angling) in the Avon, +44 7539 797 510 (mobile), . Daily dawn-dusk, kiosk 7AM-7PM / dusk (winter). Fish anywhere along the river's course through the park and try your luck at landing grayling, pike, perch, roach, or trout. One day permit: adult £5, concession £2.50, under-16 free. Purchase from Riverside Kiosk in the park, or from the information centre in town. You must also have a rod fishing licence from the Environment Agency (£6/£12/£30 per day/week/year).
  • 2 Regal Cinema, 35 Shaftesbury Street, SP6 1JF, +44 1425 652 602, . Box office M-F 8:30AM-1:30PM, 2:30PM-5PM. Classy Art Deco cinema, built in 1933 and lovingly restored in 2016. The façade is nice, but the lobby and the bar are something else, so make sure you allow some time to enjoy them before or after the film. The intimate 30-seat auditorium makes each screening - of film, live theatre or opera - special. Ticket prices can vary, but most are £10.70 for adults and £7.70 for children and students.

Further afield[edit]

  • 3 Arniss Equestrian, Southampton Road, Godshill, SP6 2JX (2 mi (3.2 km) E of town centre, via B3078. Turn R off road onto narrow driveway marked by wooden sign.), +44 1425 654 114, . By appointment only. British Horse Society and Pony Club-accredited stables offering group and private tuition at all levels of experience. Or you can enjoy some of the finest horse country in England with a guided "hack" (leisure ride) into the New Forest. Lessons: 30 min from £33 pp, 1 hr £35 pp; hacks: 1 hr from £45 pp, 2 hr from £80 pp, 3 hr £115 pp.

  • 4 Insight Activities (archery & axe throwing), Feather Down Farm, SP6 3DA (1½ mi (3 km) SW of town. Follow B3078 until L turn at staggered crossroads signed Somerley / Harbridge), +44 7752 302 010 (mobile). Booking essential. Email via online contact form (page bottom). Supervised fun with mediaeval weapons in the woods! Guided sessions for absolute beginners in longbow archery, crossbow shooting and axe throwing. The tuition is personable and humorous with an emphasis on safety and proper technique. Combine a lesson with an activity: in 'Siege the Castle', groups design their own giant projectile and fire at a model castle, while 'Combat Tag' combines a number of archery team games - back-to-back duelling, capture the flag and something called 'death match'. The archery range is open to all ages, while the other activities aren't suitable for children under 12. Archery only (2 hr): £25 pp; archery, crossbow and axe throwing (2 hr 30 min): £35 pp; siege the castle (2 hr): £30 pp; combat tag (2 hr): £30 pp.
  • 5 New Forest Water Park, Ringwood Road, SP6 2EY (2½ mi (4 km) S of town via A338), +44 1425 656 868, . Easter-early Nov. Times and days vary, but most often W-Su noon-8PM. Check site. A private lake for water sports and activities. There are two wakeboard systems; one for beginners to practise (15 min lessons are usually enough even for first-timers), and a main course on which to try out tricks, jumps and rails. The Aqua Park features two floating obstacle courses with hurdles, climbing walls, slides and more. For a more relaxing activity, the park also offers kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and freshwater swimming. The park also has a campsite (see below). Wakeboarding: 15-minute lesson £35, 2 hr on main course £30. Aquapark 1 hr £20. Kayaking 1 hr £20/£30 single/double kayak. Paddleboarding 1 hr £20. Swimming £7. Wetsuits for hire £5.

  • 6 Rockbourne Trout Fishery, Rockbourne Road, SP6 1QG (2¾ mi (4.3 km) NW of town, via Station Rd and Rockbourne Rd), +44 1725 518 603, . Daily 8AM-7PM / dusk (winter). Fish for trout at this complex of six lakes with exclusive access to a 1-mile stretch of pristine chalk stream. The wild Hampshire natives are brown trout, though other species have been brought in from around the world to supplement these. At the end of the day, you can swap your catch for a packet of smoked trout. Day tickets from £48; tuition 1 hr £40, 3 hr £100; tackle / rods for hire £15.

Events[edit]

  • 7 Fordingbridge Festival (Riverside Park), . 2021 cancelled; July 2022. Annual community festival on a Saturday in mid-July. Expect heavy horse obstacle racing, dog shows, tug of war, falconry, arts and crafts, and live music.
  • 8 Pumpkin Pastures, Ringwood Road, SP6 1AN (slip road off A338 just south of the Riverside Park), +44 7904 280 832 (mobile), . Mid-Oct until Halloween daily 9:30AM-4PM. Early bonfire night fireworks display, Sat 30 Oct 6PM. Pick your own pumpkins: choose from 30 varieties (and not just the bright orange ones), explore recipes, or carve your own jack-o-lantern. Family-friendly games, seasonal crafts, and hot and cold refreshments are all part of the fun. Free entry and parking. Pumpkins from £1 each. Fireworks £5 pp.

Buy[edit]

Fordingbridge is no retail paradise, but its small high street has managed to conserve a number of interesting independent stores. One success story is the number of shops selling local food and drink produce.

Specialist[edit]

  • 1 All The Cool Stuff, 64 High Street, SP6 1AX, +44 1425 650 696, . M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM. Children big and small love this toy store, selling figurines, playsets, games and other collectibles. Wide range of brands from Lego and Playmobil to Star Wars, Transformers, My Little Pony and Sylvanian Families. Even better, the owner knows his Stormtroopers from his Decepticons.
  • 2 The Fordingbridge Bookshop, 15 Salisbury Street, SP6 1AB, +44 1425 653 725, . M-Sa 10AM-4PM. A friendly and knowledgeable couple staff this shop which has everything you'd expect from a chain (including next-day in-store delivery), plus extras that only an independent could provide: hot drinks while you browse, a piano to tinkle on if you're brave enough and, most importantly, plenty of local interest books.
  • 3 Timothy's, 10 High Street, SP6 1AX, +44 1425 657 755. M-Sa 9:30AM-5PM. Ladies' clothing, accessories and interior design. Full of beautiful and original things, this shop attracts customers from far and wide.
The High Street and Town Hall

Local produce[edit]

  • 4 D Price Butchers, 69 High Street, SP6 1AS, +44 1425 652 228. Tu-Sa 7:30AM-5PM. Delightfully old-fashioned butcher shop which, as the handpainted sign over the door proudly boasts, is "licensed to sell game and venison". The vast majority of their meat comes from Hampshire or Dorset, and much of it from the New Forest. Try their breakfast special - pork sausage and a fried egg dripping with yolk served in a bagel; it ain't kosher, but it sure is tasty!
  • 5 The Cottage Loaf, 51-53 High Street, SP6 1AS, +44 1425 652 460, . M-F 7AM-4PM, Sa 7AM-3PM, Su 9AM-3PM. Artisan bakery known for its sourdough breads and seasonal cakes and pastry. Takeaway only.
  • 6 The Gourmet Grocer, 71C High Street, SP6 1AS, +44 1425 658 007, . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 8:30AM-4PM. Foodie heaven. The colourful wall of fruit and veg is just the start: you may also be tempted by their charcuterie and cheese counter, focaccia selection, preserves and condiments. If you're self-catering in the area, why not try one of their recipe boxes?
  • 7 Fordingbridge Farm Shop, Whitsbury Road, SP6 1NQ, +44 1425 652 228, . M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Opened in 2021. A vast range of exquisitely-presented groceries from Hampshire and Dorset. Loads of affordable fresh veg, cheese, preserves, pastries and wine, while the dry-aging meat is a sight to behold. Hot and cold ready meals prepared on-site. Staff are friendly and knowledgable about food.
  • 8 Hockey's Farm Shop, South Gorley, SP6 2PW (3 mi (4.8 km) S of Fordingbridge. Turn L off the A338 at North Gorley, then fork R and continue through village.), +44 1425 652 542, . Daily 9AM-5PM. This shop's tagline is "Bring the New Forest home", and that's exactly what you can do with their range of regional food and drink produce. Hockey's butcher much of their own meat, and source the rest from nearby farms; their pigs forage for acorns and mushrooms in the traditional way in the forest during autumn. It's not all raw protein, though, as you can also pick up local fruit and veg, dairy, beer and cider. Further information on provenance is published on their website.
  • 9 Fordingbridge Country Market, Avonway Community Centre, Shaftesbury Street, SP6 1JF, +44 1725 518 350. F 9:30AM-11:30AM. A weekly homemade market for fresh bread and cakes, seasonal fruit and veg, preserves, flowers and knitwear.

Supermarkets[edit]

There are no large supermarkets in Fordingbridge, but two small branches of national chains:

  • 10 Co-op, 38-50 High Street, SP6 1AX. M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 10AM-4PM.
  • 11 Tesco Express, 10 Salisbury Street, SP6 1AF. Daily 6AM-11PM.

For a bigger shop, Ringwood has full-sized Sainsbury's and Waitrose stores.

Eat and drink[edit]

Ultra-local Fordingbridge fudge, made in town with milk and butter from a herd of Guernseys who graze on pastures less than a mile away, is a traditional treat to sample while here. The classic flavours are butter and vanilla, but for something a bit more special, try the chocolate orange, or else the New Forest honey and cream. Buy it from Gourmet Grocer, Hockey's Farm Shop or the kiosk in the Riverside Park.

Every pub in the area serves food, though their kitchens mostly close at 9PM.

Fordingbridge[edit]

Augustus John's head
  • 1 Belinda's, 18-20 High Street, SP6 1AX, +44 1425 653 118. M-Sa 8AM-3PM. Chatty bakery and tea shop, popular for its artisan bread, cakes, and sausage rolls.
  • 2 Bridges, 26 High Street, SP6 1AX, +44 1425 654 149. Daily 9AM-4PM. Great café open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Fine collection of baguettes and paninis, garnished jacket spuds, and a few hot meals (cottage pie, macaroni cheese...) Something sweet for afters? Look no further than their amazing Dorset apple cake with clotted cream. Full English / veggie breakfast £7.50, lunches £5-£9, cream tea £6.
  • 3 Fordingbridge Kebab House, 9 Provost Street, SP6 1AY, +44 1425 654 433. Daily 3PM-10PM. Locally-popular fast food shop for kebabs, burgers, chicken and pizza, all freshly made to order. Limited indoor seating. Meals £5-£8.
  • 4 Raj of India, 75 Shaftesbury Street, SP6 1JG, +44 1425 652 056. Daily noon-2:30PM / 6PM-11:30PM. In Britain, all the best neighbourhood curry houses inspire loyal local followings for their friendly service of well-cooked old favourites at a reasonable price. This is such a place. Mains £6-£11.
  • 5 La Lambretta, 1 Shaftesbury Street, SP6 1JF, +44 1425 656 192, . M-Sa 5:30PM-9PM. Above-average Italian food served in a smart red-brick and white-tablecloth restaurant. Mains £10-£19, pizzas £9-£14.
  • 6 Pullman dining carriage at the Railway Hotel, 116 Station Road, SP6 1DG, +44 1425 653 388, . "First class" modern British dining in a space designed to resemble a Pullman carriage entering a tunnel; in summer, the tables spill onto an outdoor terrace which is like a station platform from the age of steam. The hotel also serves its own brand of bitter, amber ale, and cider. Mains £14-£18, Isle of Wight sirloin £26.
  • 7 The George, 14 Bridge Street, SP6 1AH, +44 1425 652 040, . W-Sa noon-3PM / 5:30PM-10PM, Su noon-6PM. 18th-century riverside gastropub serving Hampshire favourites: steak and chips, chalk stream trout, lobster linguine. Save room for the local cheese board. The very sad selection of draught beers is made up for by extensive wine and cocktail lists. On sunny days, the outdoor terrace has a prime view of the Great Bridge. Mains £12-£26; children's menu mains £9.
  • 8 The Three Lions, Stuckton Road, SP6 2HF (1 mi (1.6 km) SE of town centre), +44 1425 652 489, . Daily 11AM-11PM, kitchen closed W Th. Classic English and French cuisine using local ingredients. The simple menu has only five dishes in each course. Daily mains £17-£29, Sunday mains £14-£17.

Breamore[edit]

  • 9 The Bat & Ball, Salisbury Road, Breamore, SP6 2EA, +44 1725 512 252, . Su-Th noon-10PM, F Sa noon-11PM. International pub grub with great choice of dishes from fish to grills, sandwiches, pizzas and salads. Large beer garden with awnings, and three fireplaces inside. Mains £13-£22. Sunday lunch: adult £15, child £7.

Rockbourne[edit]

  • 10 The Rose and Thistle, Rockbourne Road, Rockbourne, SP6 3NL, +44 1725 518 236, . Tu-F noon-2PM / 6-9:30PM, Sa noon-9:30PM, Su noon-6PM. Characterful thatched pub-restaurant with cosy interior and lovely beer garden. Owned by a consortium of villagers, it's had a reputation for good seasonal food for donkey's years. The menu has little in the way of vegetarian or vegan food, but chef can accommodate. Local real ale and cider on tap. Mains £13-£18. Rose And Thistle Public House (Q26461106) on Wikidata

Sleep[edit]

The main forms of accommodation in the area are self-catering holiday lets and campsites. There are no large hotels in Fordingbridge (you'll find a Premier Inn in Ringwood), but a handful of small-scale operations may be of interest:

  • 1 The Ship Inn, 68 High Street, SP6 1AX, +44 1425 654 371, . Traditional inn with four en-suite rooms, some of which have sweet original features. Continental breakfast included. Greene King pub, so food and beer nothing spectacular, but the rest of the town is on your doorstep. B&B doubles £80.
Alderholt Mill
  • 2 Alderholt Mill, Sandleheath Road, Alderholt, SP6 1PU (On the Dorset side of the county border, 2 mi (3.2 km) west of Fordingbridge via Station Rd and Alderholt Rd), +44 1425 653 130, . Charming wisteria-covered B&B at a working watermill, with one self-catering cottage (sleeps two). All rooms en-suite. Attractive gardens with a mill pond, outdoor seating and BBQ available to use. And yes, you can buy a bag of flour from the mill. B&B doubles £80-£120 per night; self-catering £360-£430 per week. Alderholt Mill (Q26609240) on Wikidata
  • 3 The Railway Hotel, 116 Station Road, SP6 1DG, +44 1425 653 388, . Opened in the 1860s, this inn once served rail travellers arriving in town from the station next door, but declined when the trains stopped running. Restored to its late Victorian glory in 2019, this is now a smart boutique hotel and bar with five en-suite rooms (including one wheelchair-accessible), each themed around a famous train service of yore. They also have a "railway cottage" that sleeps four, with a lounge, kitchenette and dining area. See Eat for details on Pullman 'dining car' restaurant. B&B doubles: rooms £125-£195 per night; cottage £245 for two nights minimum stay.
  • 4 Three Lions, Stuckton Road, SP6 2HF (1 mi (1.6 km) SE of town centre), +44 1425 652 489, . A range of en-suite twin, double, and family rooms overlooking the gardens and forest. All rooms have access to communal gardens and sauna, while some rooms have a private terrace with hot tub. Continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi. B&B doubles from £95.

Camping[edit]

  • 5 Amy's Camping, Bowerwood Cottages, 1 Ashford Road, SP6 3BU (1½ mi (3 km) west of Fordingbridge via B3078), +44 7717 313 663 (mobile). Email through website. Peaceful field for pitching a tent. Clean toilets and showers. Child and dog-friendly with play equipment. A small enclosure with sheep and chickens cultivates a rustic atmosphere. Contact site for pitch rates.
  • 6 Cae Malwen Farm, Rockbourne, SP6 3NE (At the end of a short narrow lane off the main Rockbourne road), +44 7554 400 744 (mobile). Check-in: 10AM-8PM, check-out: 4PM. Very peaceful basic campsite with no facilities other than a washroom (the name is Welsh for "Snail Field"). Campfires and barbecues are allowed, but there's a no-noise policy after dark. Children and dogs welcome. Tent pitch from £24 per night.
  • 7 Harry's Meadow, Hale Lane, SP6 2RE, +44 7534 006137 (mobile). Large campsite on Hale Park Estate, open July-Aug. Dogs welcome. Tent £20.
  • 8 Hill Cottage Farm, Sandleheath Road, Alderholt, SP6 3EG (2 mi (3.2 km) W of town, via B3078; follow brown signs from Alderholt village centre), +44 1425 650 513, . Check-in: any time, check-out: 11AM. Camping and caravan park inside Dorset by a cat's whisker. In addition to the traditional tent, caravan, and motorhome pitches, the site also has accommodation for hire. If a 'luxury lodge' with double beds, en-suite shower room and full kitchen sounds like cheating, then a more basic 'shepherd's hut' might be more to your taste. Children and leashed dogs welcome. Pitches from £21 per night, shepherd's hut from £36 per night, lodge from £100 per night plus £100 refundable deposit.
  • 9 Midgham Farm (Feather Down), Midgham, SP6 3BY (1½ mi (3 km) SW of town. Follow B3078 until L turn at staggered crossroads signed Somerley / Harbridge), +44 1420 80804, . Glamping on a working family farm. Choose between a canvas or log cabin (all sleep 6), which come with fully made-up double / bunk beds, private shower, living and cooking areas, running water and log-burning stove. BBQ facilities and on-site shop. Private fishing and swimming in the river. Archery and axe-throwing at Insight Activities next-door. 4 nights from £400, 7 nights from £800.

  • 10 New Forest Water Park Camping, Ringwood Road, SP6 2EY (use main park entrance on A338), +44 1425 656 868, . Check-in: noon-9PM, check-out: 11AM. Rustic woodland campsite for tents and campervans (no electric hook-ups). Every pitch has a firepit. Under-21s must be "accompanied by an adult" (yes, really). No dogs or rowdy groups. Per night: adult £15, child aged 4-16 £5, under 4 free.
  • 11 Sandy Balls Holiday Village, Southampton Road, SP6 2JZ (on B3078, 2 mi (3.2 km) east of town), +44 1442 508 850 (Hertfordshire number). Despite a name straight out of Carry On Camping, this rather large resort of static caravans and wood cabins is perfectly family-friendly, with great access to nature and numerous facilities (play areas, dog park, pools...) and activities (archery, cycling, fishing...) to keep everyone entertained. You don't even need to leave to get fed and watered, as they also have a restaurant, pub and minimarket. Per night: caravans from £110, lodges from £450. Sandy Balls (Q7417140) on Wikidata Sandy Balls on Wikipedia

Connect[edit]

Phone[edit]

Two area codes for landline phone numbers cover the area. Fordingbridge's is 01425 (+44 1425 from outside the UK), and Rockbourne's is 01725 (+44 1725); Breamore is split between the two areas.

Internet[edit]

  • 2 Fordingbridge Library, Roundhill, SP6 1AQ, +44 300 555 1387 (non-geographic). W F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-1PM. The municipal library offers computers, printing and photocopying facilities. No Wi-Fi.

Go next[edit]

New Forest[edit]

  • Brockenhurst - a woodland town that's home to the annual New Forest show
  • Burley - a New Forest village with a new age/witchy atmosphere
  • Lyndhurst - the ever-popular tourism capital of the forest

Further afield[edit]

  • Bournemouth - a large seaside resort with seven golden miles of sandy beach and a vibrant nightlife
  • Christchurch - Bournemouth's quieter and more genteel eastern neighbour has beaches and a natural harbour
  • Salisbury - a cathedral city with the best remaining of only four original copies of the Magna Carta
  • Wimborne Minster - home to a rare chained library and a one-tenth scale model town
Routes through Fordingbridge
SalisburyBreamore  N UK road A338.svg S  Ringwood (junction UK road A31.svg) → Bournemouth


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