Burley, a quaint village nestled in the New Forest in Hampshire, is steeped in history and surrounded by an enchanting natural landscape. With origins dating back to the Bronze Age, Burley has been a continuous human settlement for over 3,500 years. The village's name, which may derive from the Old English 'burh' and 'leah', suggests a fortified clearing, and its history is closely tied to the royal lands of the New Forest. By the 13th century, the de Burley family was well-established, with Richard de Burley holding the estate from Edward I. The New Forest, a former royal hunting ground, is now a haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts. It is home to a variety of free-roaming animals, including ponies, donkeys, cattle, and several species of deer. Burley is surrounded by heathlands, woodlands and streams, where ponies and cattle roam freely. Burley has a population of about 1,800 people and covers an area of 16.4 square kilometres.
Burley itself is a picturesque village that has managed to preserve its traditional charm and customs, such as the practice of Commoning, which allows animals to graze on the Open Forest. Thatched cottages and a tranquil atmosphere contribute to the village's timeless appeal. The village is also known for its connections to folklore, including tales of witches, smuggling, and dragons, with the famous 'White' witch Sybil Leek having lived there in the 1950s.
For those looking to explore Burley's history and nature, there are several local events throughout the year, including traditional New Forest events that cater to families. The Burley Food, Arts and Drink Festival is a highlight, offering a chance to sample local produce and enjoy the village's cultural offerings.
Things to Do: 1. Burley Manor: Explore the historic Burley Manor, a grand residence with a rich history. It has been transformed into a hotel, offering visitors a taste of luxury amidst the beauty of the New Forest.
2. Cycling: You can hire a bike from New Forest Cycling and explore the trails and paths of the forest. You can also follow the Burley Food Trail, which takes you to various local producers and shops where you can sample and buy delicious treats.
3. Horse riding: You can experience the forest on horseback with Burley Villa School of Riding, which offers lessons and rides for all levels of ability. You can choose from western, English or forest riding styles and enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
4. Wagon rides: You can take a relaxing and scenic ride on a horse drawn wagon with Burley Wagon Rides. You can learn about the history and legends of Burley, such as the witches, smugglers and dragons, and see the ponies and donkeys that roam freely in the village.
5. Deer safari: You can spot some of the rare and elusive red deer and fallow deer that live in the New Forest with New Forest Deer Safari. You can take a 30-minute tractor/trailer ride through Burley Park and get close to these majestic animals.
Places to Eat and Drink:
1. The Burley Inn: This country pub offers meals, local ales, and basic guestrooms with free WiFi and a hot breakfast. The food is served from noon until 9pm, and the menu includes a hot meal or three-course evening meal, roasts on Sundays, classic cream teas any time of day, and vegetarian options. The bar and restaurant offer a varied range of good food, fine wines, and local ales. The Burley Inn is open from 9am daily serving coffees and a variety of teas, including Earl Grey, fruit teas, green tea, and decaffeinated options.
2. The Cider Pantry: Located in a former cowshed, The Cider Pantry offers a range of tasty lunchtime options, cream teas, and cakes. The menu features cream teas, cakes, and a range of tasty lunchtime options including giant toasties and superb salads with local hams and cheeses. The Cider Pantry also has a range of teas, but don't miss its homemade apple juices, or a visit to the shop inside a former cowshed. The Cider Pantry is open every day from 10am - 4.30pm serving a range of ciders, tea and coffee, homemade cakes, and savouries.
3. The Old Station Tearooms: This tea room offers a selection of delicious, homemade, and freshly cooked foods including vegetarian and vegan dishes. The menu offers a selection of tasty meals, all cooked fresh to order and available every lunchtime. They also serve the perfect Cream Tea, with freshly made scones, gorgeous thick cream, and a choice of jams. The Old Station House Tea Rooms are the ideal location to stop for refreshments when exploring the well-established network of cycle routes throughout the forest. The tea room is open for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea, serving local New Forest produce in lovely surroundings.
4. The Queen’s Head:A traditional village pub, The Queen’s Head, offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu featuring classic pub fare. From hearty meals to lighter options, it caters to a variety of tastes.
5. Burley Manor Restaurant: This is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that offers dishes made with seasonal and local produce. They also have a bar, a terrace and a garden where you can enjoy drinks and snacks. They host various events throughout the year, such as floristry workshops, gin tasting and music. You can book a table at Ringwood Road, Burley, Ringwood BH24 4BS
Shopping: 1. New Forest Cider: For a taste of local flavors, visit New Forest Cider. This family-run business offers a range of ciders, and you can also take a tour to learn about the cider-making process.
2. Burley Fudge Shop: This is a shop that sells homemade fudge in various flavours, such as clotted cream, rum and raisin, salted caramel and more. They also have vegan and gluten-free options. You can sample and buy their fudge at The Cross, Burley, Ringwood BH24 4AB.
Additional Shops: 1. Gift Shops: Burley boasts several charming gift shops, each offering unique items that reflect the village’s character. From handmade crafts to local artwork, these shops provide an opportunity to take home a piece of Burley.
2. Antique Stores: Explore the village’s antique stores, where you might discover hidden gems and timeless treasures.
In summary, Burley is a village that captures the essence of the New Forest, offering a blend of history, nature, and local culture. Visitors can immerse themselves in the village's past, enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding forest, and partake in local events and culinary delights. Whether you're interested in wildlife, local history, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Burley is a destination that promises a memorable experience.