Burley Village - New Forest
The ancient Saxon community of Burley Village is just about everything you would expect a small New Forest hamlet to be.
Burley Village is located halfway between the main A31 and A35 roads, on what was once a thriving smugglers’ route between Lymington, Ringwood and Salisbury, Burley appears to be completely untouched by the modern world.
Burley is a place where you can still see ponies, donkeys and cattle roaming the roads; where you can still palpably feel the presence of the smugglers who used to frequent the 16th Century Queen’s Head Pub – where a cellar full of contraband bottles, coins and pistols was discovered; and where the dramatic forest encroaching all the way into the heart of the village makes the local witchcraft legends all the more plausible.
Burley is totally surrounded by Crown Forest and is one of the very few places which still maintains the tradition of Commoning – which permits the grazing of animals in the forest itself. The whole village is within the New Forest Heritage Area and is itself a conservation area – and it’s soon easy to understand why.
There is a large car and coach park in the village but, once you are there, the best way to assimilate all this picturesque community has to offer is to meander through its simple streets and neighbouring woodlands.
Not only will you find ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottages hidden away but also startling pieces of forest such as the ancient oaks of The Twelve Apostles’ and the Wilverley Oak (also called the Naked Man Tree) where highwaymen and smugglers were once hanged.
Burley also has many other especially fine examples of fir, pine and spruce trees – as well as the ‘Miracle Trees’ near the Vicarage, which show their leaves at Christmas.
There are plenty of places in Burley Village to quench your thirst or satisfy your appetite in one of the tea Rooms, where you can not only enjoy a New Forest Cream Tea but also admire (and perhaps buy) some antiques and collectables.
There are also other places to stop for a meal if you require something more substantial.
If you want to explore a little deeper into the forest then there are also stables here so you can enjoy a spot of horse riding in the forest, and if you fancy a cycling trip instead there is also bike hire available too.
If you’re a golfer looking for an unusual experience then why not try the 100 year old heathland course at Burley – it’s only 9 holes but different tee positions for the ‘back nine’ make it a completely new challenge the second time around.
Day fees for visitors are a modest £20 during the week, £25 at weekends (£9 and £10 respectively for Under 18s). From Easter onwards each summer, you can also enjoy the scenery from a Wagonette Ride.
Whilst you’re in Burley Village, don’t be surprised to see traces of the witchcraft tradition still in evidence. Half a century ago Sybil Leek, a self-confessed White Witch, became a well-known local ‘celebrity’ and since then a lot of interest in the subject has been re-ignited.
Burley Village, although it has all the amenities for tourists already mentioned, has managed to maintain its integrity and has thankfully avoided becoming a rural ‘Theme Park’.
Although it can become quite busy during the summer, it’s always possible to wander the streets and surrounding areas and experience something of the particularly unique New Forest atmosphere.
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