In words immortalised by noughties pop icon Natasha Beddingfield, "I want to run with the wild horses." Of course, in the song, the horses act as a metaphor for unbridled freedom and joy, and, in any case, where would we find a harras of horses just meandering the open plains in the UK? If this were a film, we would cut to a wide shot of a car driving the undulating roads of the New Forest, miles of woodland stretching out from all sides and, yes, peppering the pathways, those illusive wild horses. I don’t draw a seemingly arbitrary parallel between a popular song released in 2004 and one of Europe's most important locations for my own nostalgic pleasure. It is because the vast spaces of this unique mix of landscapes – including ancient woodlands, wetlands, bogs, open heathlands, many rare species of wildlife and chocolate box villages – immediately envelope all who visit in a rare sense of liberation. To breathe in the clean New Forest air, discover its wide-ranging landscapes and mill around its chocolate box hamlets is freedom of the best kind: the accessible sort, on offer for a night, a UK weekend or as long as you have to spare. The myriad places to stay here are a perfect reflection of that.
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