IT was a baptism of fire for the new team at the Walhampton Arms in Lymington.

Gavin and Georgia Hawkins only took over the pub, set on the edge of the stunning New Forest just a few minutes from the bustling Georgian market town of Lymington with views of the Isle of Wight across the Solent, in March.

They were thrown straight into a global crisis the likes of which has never before been seen.

Pubs closed overnight and would keep their doors closed for an unprecedented 15 weeks.

So the couple decided to lend a hand in the community.

They cooked meals for Helping Hands Open Arms, a charity that supplied meals to the vulnerable in and around the Lymington area throughout the lockdown period.

Now it's back to business following the lengthy coronavirus closure and the pub is doing a roaring trade on its famous weekend carvery as well as beginning to benefit from the Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which launched this week and has seen food trade increase.

The building dates back to the 1800s when it was a dairy and the history and character remain. Inside there is a rustic and contemporary feel to the dining and drinking areas and space allows an overnight stay in one of five newly renovated stable bedrooms named after the local villages of Beaulieu, Pilley, Sway, Boldre and Portmore..

The Walhampton Arms is in the perfect location to relax and explore, a great spot for visiting the national park and an ideal stopover for a bite to eat before catching the Wightlink Lymington to Yarmouth ferry to the island which sets off nearby.

Since reopening, changes have included Track & Trace, a one way system around the pub with one entrance and one exit, table service only, online ordering at the table, a host of sanitising points and personal protective equipment for all members of staff.

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