Nestled in the heart of the New Forest, the charming, bustling market town of Ringwood is a hidden countryside gem that’s brimming with character. Less than 13 miles from Bournemouth’s sunny coast, and within easy access of the M3, Ringwood is a prime location for those looking to escape the chaos of the city.

The epitome of traditional English charm, the ancient market town still retains its weekly market trade, selling a selection of locally sourced, handmade produce from the surrounding New Forest area, as well as boasting an eclectic range of independent shops, large supermarkets and delightful cafes, wine bars and restaurants.

Despite retaining much of its original character, Ringwood’s historic town is the perfect blend of old and new. Many of the centre’s old buildings have been given a modern makeover, particularly the Furlong Centre – a leafy pedestrianised courtyard that plays host to a large Waitrose, various fashion retailers and The Frampton Mill, a 400-year-old seed merchants, that’s been transformed into the Boston Tea Party – a pleasant cafe/restaurant that serves up a daily selection of breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes alongside teas, coffees, cakes and a small range of alcoholic beverages.

Venturing outside the town centre is a whole different story. A perfect postcard vision of charming English countryside. Streets are laden with beautiful brick Georgian townhouses and rustic thatched cottages, with surrounding rural landscapes that boast endless stretches of lush greenery and rolling hillsides.

A celebrated spot of natural beauty, Ringwood stands on the western edge of the stunning New Forest National Park, with the River Avon crossing through as it meanders its way slowly down the Christchurch coastline. The best of both worlds, Ringwood has both the glorious countryside and the Dorset coast resting on its doorstep, as well as being within close proximity of a number of thriving neighbouring cities and towns. Less than a 20-minute drive along the A338, Bournemouth is the closest urban destination, with Southampton, Salisbury, Portsmouth and Winchester close by, less than an hour away by car, and London less than a 100-mile journey along the M3.

With its convenient location, Ringwood is a commuter hot spot, but it’s so much more than just a place to pass through in favour of more exotic climes. In and around the town there are a number of local pubs serving up Ringwood Brewery’s finest ales as well as enchanting hotels, inns and guest houses and sprawling campsites with panoramic views of the New Forest’s enchanting woodland.

A bubbling hotpot of outdoor activity, Ringwood’s rolling landscapes provide the perfect backdrop to a plethora of outdoor sports including cycling, fishing, horse riding and golf. The New Forest Water Park offers wake boarding, kayaking and jet skiing to the more adventurous types, and being just over 10 miles from Bournemouth, Ringwood dwellers also get to enjoy the delights of the Dorset coast.

With a modest population of around 14,000, Ringwood is a haven of tranquility, close enough to the city buzz, but far enough to remain a pleasant escape, away from the bustling action.

Blessed with original thatched cottages and rustic stone farmhouses, Ringwood maintains its original charm and personality, but there are also a number of affordable new developments and modern apartments that appeal to the younger crowds. Whether you’re a couple looking to escape the chaos of the city or a family looking for a quiet, countryside retreat, Ringwood is an oasis of calm that is so worth escaping to.