Was The Lookout at Lepe Country Park worth the wait?

So here it is, The Lookout at Lepe Country Park. Sometime around June 2017, work started on replacing the aged Lepe Beach Cafe at Lepe Country Park. Some 11 months later, the doors finally opened on the new, improved, (and higher) Cafe. The Lookout at Lepe Country Park was born.

The first cup of coffee was poured for the first customer.

That wasn’t me, but having waited the better part of the year for the cafe to open, we had to pay a visit on the day of the big opening.

Before I go on, I must let you know that Lepe Country Park is one of our favourite, free things to do in the New Forest (free except for Parking).

The first thing we noticed was that it is still very much a work in progress. Temporary fencing still in place but let’s not dwell on that.

First Impressions of The Lookout at Lepe Country Park

The next thing we noticed as we entered was how the light flooded in from the end to end glass overlooking the car park. Just the other side of the line of vehicles was the sea.

The counter is close to the door, and it remains to be seen whether or not at busy times a long queue will interfere with people coming and going. As it turns out, it does. We returned on the Sunday after opening and the queue was out the door. This did hinder other people entering and leaving the cafe.

Another thing we noticed was that a large chilled drinks cabinet, stocked with refreshing cans of drink, somewhat blocked the menu that was on the wall behind.

Coffee ordered, and we settled ourselves down on a comfy sofa to enjoy the view. OK, so the views are not perfect.

The Lookout at Lepe Country Park
Somewhat hindered views, but views nonetheless

You can still see the temporary fencing, and your view will always be blighted with cars. When we first saw the plans, I did wonder why they didn’t move the cafe closer to the sea and put the car park inland a bit.

Perhaps there was concern that access for the visitors to the park above and behind the cafe would be hindered. Perhaps they’re right but think of the unobstructed views us coffee drinkers and cafe go’ers could enjoy.

Anyway, back to the comfy sofa. We were lucky enough to be able to nab one of the only two sofas in the cafe. Enjoying the blue skies, and for a fleeting moment (but only fleeting) wish that it was cold enough to fire up the wood burner style heater we enjoyed our coffee.

The Lookout at Lepe Country Park

Sampling the wares

On this occasion, we only had a coffee and shared a piece of cake. The coffee was good, the cake even better.

The Lookout at Lepe Country ParkWe took a bit of time to review the menu for the newly opened The Lookout at Lepe Country Park.

The Fish Finger Sandwich, Burgers, Gammon, Chicken and Soup left us wishing it was a little bit closer to lunch time so we could put the kitchen to the test.

Next time perhaps.

At each end of the cafe were decking areas with a few tables and umbrellas.

It was not quite clear what will end up being situated in the area directly in front of the cafe, but we hope it will involve more outside seating.

The information centre for Lepe Country park is now situated inside the cafe, as are the toilets. The old cafe didn’t have toilets inside, you had to walk around the side, and visit the old-fashioned outside concrete toilets. These, as you can imagine, are much better.

The Appearance of The Lookout at Lepe Country Park

The design itself fits in really well with the surroundings. It nestles perfectly, fusing the beach with the park and the trees behind. Once the work is complete, the temporary cabins and fencing are removed, and any landscaping is done, it will cement the area as possible one of, if not the favourite of ours in the area.

So, our first impressions are good. The cafe is light and airy. There is plenty of seating. There is a wood burning stove for customers to fight over in the winter months. The food looks good. The coffee is good.

Throw in good company………

………and what more could you ask for.

If you are in the area, be sure to pop by. Enjoy a coffee, the food, and enjoy the views. 

The Lookout at Lepe Country Park The Lookout at Lepe Country Park

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