IT’S the award-winning pub that is one of Hampshire’s hidden gems.

Many of the most successful watering holes in the New Forest are situated in the larger towns and villages, whereas the Red Lion is at the end of a long lane north of Lymington.

But despite its slightly out of the way location the picturesque pub attracts a large number of locals and tourists alike, plus a sprinkling of celebrities.

Twiggy, Simon Le Bon and Sir Mick Jagger are just three of the famous faces who have found their way to the popular bar and eatery in Rope Hill, Boldre.

Sir Mick, 73, is thought to have been house-hunting in the Forest when he popped in three or four years ago.

For more than a decade the Red Lion has been run by Alan and Amanda Pountner, who arrived 11 years and nine months ago after a successful career in hotel management.

Amanda, 59, said: “It was the first pub we visited after we moved to the New Forest and we really liked it. We asked the owners to give us a call if it ever came on the market - and they did.

“We opened up the garden, which was only a quarter of the size it is now, and opened up the bar as well.”

Originally two cottages and a stable, the Red Lion dates from the 15th century and is said to have been mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Amanda said: “It’s grown gradually over the years and it’s this heritage that has given the pub it’s unique character and authentic atmosphere. The pub hasn’t been designed, it’s simply evolved.”

Renowned for its legendary pie nights, the pub’s main menu alters during the year to reflect the changing seasons in the Forest.

Key members of staff include head chef Neil Hall, who joined the team almost three years ago after working at The Ship Inn at Lymington and other venues in the area.

Amanda added: “Neil and our kitchen staff are in constant communication with local suppliers to source the best fresh produce.”

The Red Lion has recently finished second in the southern regional heat of the Marston’s Food Pub of the Year contest, having won seven years ago.

Amanda said: “We’re pleased - it’s usually gastro-pubs that do well in the competition.”