In the second part of our New Forest special, Johanna Payton stays in The Nave, a converted methodist church in the centre of lovely Lymington – consider this fabulous residence if you’re looking at holiday cottages in the New Forest.
Our pre-Easter escape to the New Forest was picture perfect. As we arrived in Lymington, a Georgian market town on the south coast, the sun was setting over the pretty quay. The cobbled streets sparkled as we made our way to The Nave, a brand new holiday cottage just a few minutes walk from the centre of town.
We were only the second set of holidaymakers to stay in this beautifully restored building. Sleeping seven, it is modern, slick and minimal in terms of decor, but with many of the church’s features preserved and amplified, it is bursting with character. The generous bedrooms upstairs are so comfortable I had to be dragged out of bed and the brand-spanking new appliances in the kitchen – including double oven and coffee machine – were begging me to stay for a whole week of luxury. The owners couldn’t have been friendlier and, after meeting them, I saw exactly how much passion, care and attention they have lavished on a church that they purchased in 2008 when it stood deserted and unloved, and restored to a glorious, luxurious holiday-let for visitors to worship.
As well as being a beautiful place to stay, The Nave is also ideally located for a short break or holiday in Lymington. In less than five minutes, on foot, you’ll be in the town centre.
Turn left, down the cobbles, and you can enjoy a cosy pint in the olde worlde Kings Head Inn, complete with log fire. Wine lovers should pop into The Cellar, a tasting house and wine merchant. Or for a pub with a great view of the quay and a nice mix of traditional furnishings and modern touches, head to The Ship Inn and watch the boats bob in the marina.
Turn right and amble up the main street, a busy hub peppered with antique stores, nautique boutiques, tea rooms and charity shops. I was particularly keen on Willow at the top of the high street, a swish interior design shop and studio with its own cafe.
Walk straight on and in around 15 minutes you’ll reach the Lymington Yacht Haven. Here, you’ll find The Haven Cafe, Bar & Restaurant, a great spot for dinner with a chi-chi clientelle, a great view out to the Solent, a hugely friendly co-owner called Rob and a celeb-tastic pedigree (Rob’s business partner is broadcaster and TV presenter Chris Evans – the famous TFI Friday desk hangs proudly outside the kitchen). It’s all about the seafood here and we devoured a salmon sharing plate, mussels with chips and a delicious mussel, chervil and saffron linguine with a cream and shellfish stock.
And of course, Lymington’s main selling point is its proximity to the well-tended wilds of the New Forest. A short drive out of town and you’ll be up close and personal with the ponies, exploring pretty villages with rich histories and perfectly placed for visually stunning walks and cycle rides.
The Nave is now open for business and I can recommend it – and the sweet little town it lives in – wholeheartedly.
How to get to Lymington without flying:
To drive to Lymington head towards Southampton on the M3 and then take the M27. From the West, take the A303 and the A36.
There are two train stations in Lymington (Lymington Town and Lymington Pier). Trains run regularly towards Brockenhurst where you can pick up a connection to the West Country, Southampton, Clapham Junction or London Waterloo.
To book The Nave visit www.newforestliving.co.uk
Images: Johanna Payton/New Forest Living