Welcome to the New Forest, 145 square miles of ancient heath and woodland, where ponies, donkeys, pigs, cattle and deer still freely roam and where the East End Arms makes the perfect affordable base. The owner is Dire Straits’ bass guitarist John Illsley. When he bought the pub in the mid-1990s, he received a letter from the regulars: ‘Hands off our public bar’. ‘They wouldn’t even let me repair the hole in the ceiling and when we repainted, it had to be exactly the same colour. Fine by me.’ For a plain room with locals at the bar and real ales, turn right. For some of the best food in the whole New Forest, in a charming dining room enlivened by monochrome photographs of musicians and celebrities that get everyone talking, turn left. For a comfy night, head upstairs to one of the five divine bedrooms. You’ll find crisply sheeted, king-size beds, Nespresso machines, Mulberry fabrics and walls decorated with John’s paintings. Breakfast is spot on. Doubles from £110.
Name to Know: Ask Danielle for the best walks in the area. There are many coastal and forest strolls to enjoy, all in close proximity to the pub.
See: Head to the historical village of Bucklers Hard, located on the Beaulieu river, and follow its riverside footpath.
Eat: At the pub for comforting, classic food. Order the fresh fish or local venison.
Buy: A new frock from one of the many boutique shops in nearby Lymington.
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