What’s going for it? Thanks to the Brothers Grimm, I’ve long had a fancy to live in a forest, aside from the obvious downsides of witches, wood-trolls and big bad wolves. Just a log cabin in a little clearing will do, so I can live out my Henry David Thoreau dreams – in easy reach of a decent coffee, of course. Since we Brits deforested our land centuries before palm oil conglomerates started work on the Amazon, there isn’t much choice on this island. The New Forest just about fits the bill. Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst are the two main clearings: smart, mostly Victorian affairs Lycra-bombed by cyclists on an average weekend, but jolly spots nonetheless. One can quite imagine Arthur Conan Doyle or Alice‑in-Wonderland Liddell trotting the streets here, under gothic gables. Forest would be a slight overstatement to anyone from Brazil or the Congo, but if I squint a bit and ignore its more suburban edges, concentrating instead on the oaks, ickle ponies, witches and local lore from ye olde Norman times, I can fill up on my bosky romance and be within a short drive of, say, The Pig, when I’m in desperate need of some yuzu juice.
The case against Traffic, especially in summer: gridlock, just to get home for your tea. Verges on the unromantically suburban, for those looking for rural idyll. Expensive: I don’t remember any Maserati showrooms last time I read Little Red Riding Hood.
Well connected? Trains: from Brockenhurst (and Ashurst New Forest) to Southampton (20 mins) and then on to London Waterloo (1hr 20); or to Christchurch or Bournemouth. Driving: 15 mins to the A31/M27.
Schools Primaries: Brockenhurst CofE and St Michael & All Angels CofE infant (Lyndhurst) are “good”, says Ofsted. Secondaries: Priestlands (Lymington) and Testwood (Totton) are “good”; Hounsdown (Totton) “outstanding”.
Hang out at… The Pig in Brockenhurst is the most illustrious spot, or Angela Hartnett at Lime Wood in Lyndhurst. The Oak, just outside Lyndhurst, has all the country pub accoutrements, and is very popular with cyclists.
Where to buy Of the two main towns, Brockenhurst tends to be the more expensive due to better train links; it’s an overgrown village, mostly of sprawling detacheds, say off Rhinefield Road, though there are some Victorian cottages or terraces at its heart. Choose Lyndhurst for a slightly more urban feel (though Emery Down rivals Brockenhurst for large suburbans), and a larger selection of Victorian and Edwardian property. Check out small villages, too, such as Setley or Burley; and there are more isolated cottages deeper in the forest itself. Large detacheds and townhouses, £650,000-£1.75m. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £400,000-£650,000. Semis, £320,000-£650,000. Terraces and cottages, £320,000-£550,000. Flats, £150,000-£750,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £700-£875pcm; a three-bedroom house, £1,200-£2,400pcm.
Bargain of the week Three-bedroom detached in Brockenhurst, in large grounds, with scope for extending, £850,000 with haywardfox.co.uk.
From the streets
Patricia Neate “Walk in the Forest, then home-made lunch in the family-run Terrace Cafe. The area has a lively generational mix, thriving churches and community groups.”
• Live in the New Forest? Join the debate below
Do you live in Linlithgow, West Lothian? Do you have a favourite haunt or a pet hate? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 18 February.