Despite living only an hour away, and reguarly visiting The New Forest, I had never actually heard of Exbury Gardens before. When I was asked if I would like to go along for a visit with my family to explore, I was so shocked to read about this beautiful place, so close to us, which we had yet to discover!
As well as plenty of beautiful themed gardens and walks, the venue also has a steam railway, which you can opt to ride for a small additional fee. Plus they have regular events on throughout the year, including Donkey rides for children, which were going on during our visit, again for a small additional fee.
We lucked out with the weather, as we went along just at the start of the recent UK heatwave, when the temperature hit around 29 degrees with beautiful blue skies and sunshine when we first arrived (it did turn a little overcast later in the day, which was a shame, but it didn’t affect our visit).
Being an outdoor attraction, set in huge (200 acre) grounds, it was easy to socially distance during our visit and we felt extra safe with hand sanitising stations set up all around the gardens, outside each of the toilets and the children’s play area – I don’t think I have ever seen a more equipped venue! Everybody wore face masks during the train ride as well, which was good and helped ease any anxiety I had about the closer contact on the short journey around the gardens.
I was glad to have a map, as the gardens really are massive, however there are plenty of signs and maps showing your current location around the venue, so you won’t get lost or miss anything out during your visit. It was a bit too much for my nan, who is in her late eighties, so she had a rest with the younger two children for a bit, but my mum, Cameron and I managed to to get right to the end of the grounds to see the beautiful view across the water.
As I mentioned, we had my nan with us, and we found that most of the walk was on one level, which was nice and easy for her to walk around. There were signs showing which walks were not suitable for anybody in a wheelchair (or presumably a buggy), and plenty of benches dotted around for those wanting to take a rest or have a bit of a breather.
There were picnic tables for anybody looking to eat food from home during their visit, as well as a restaurant at the entrance, serving hot and cold drinks and a selection of food. There was also a tea room located next to the Sundial Gardens, which was temporarily closed during our visit.
We all had a lovely time at Exbury Gardens, and it is somewhere I will recommend to friends and family, as I had not heard of it before our visit. I am looking forward to going back during a different season, to see how the gardens will look as the weather changes – I imagine it will look beautiful in the autumn, as the leaves change colour on the trees!
We were provided with complimentary entry to the gardens and steam train, however all words and images are my own.