My guide to New Hampshire
New Hampshire is the secret, hidden gem, of the three uppermost New England States. Everyone knows Vermont and Maine while few people seem to have discovered the State sandwiched between those two - the ‘forgotten’ State.
Remembered only at Presidential election time when, briefly, New Hampshire comes to world attention as the first in the nation State to cast its vote. This starts with tiny, picturesque, Dixville Notch (population: 5) in the far north of the State, with their vote being declared in the middle of the night! It is said that however New Hampshire goes, so goes the presidency and it remains true that very few Presidents have ever been elected without first winning New Hampshire.
In the heart of this rugged, fiercely independent, but achingly beautiful State, lie the lakes region. With the romantically named white mountains to the north and the historic State Capital, Concord, to the south, the lakes region offers a wide variety of lakes in all shapes and sizes. From quiet, old moneyed, Squam Lake (aka ‘Golden Pond’ from the Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn movie) to beautiful Lake Sunapee, with the eponymously named Mt Sunapee majestically standing guard over its south western flank, this lake is favored by the more discrete new money with its attractive, architect designed homes nestling among the trees around its shores.
The picture perfect, quintessential, little New England town of New London serves the needs of the Lake Sunapee region, from its year round permanent residents, to winter skiers and summer people’ who come to enjoy the lakes and mountains. At the heart of New London is the old New London Inn, providing an ideal place for visitors to stay, while exploring the many attractions of the area.
These attractions include the Simon Pierce glass works up on Quechee gorge, historic Hanover, home of Ivy League Dartmouth College and the many lakes and mountains that offer superb canoeing and hiking adventures, where it is often possible to see the elusive loons and, occasionally, bear and moose! The old Baynham’s building in New London is also well worth a visit to enjoy some refreshment in its charming café and a browse in its fine art gallery.
Having enjoyed my home high up in the isolated, backwoods of New Hampshire for 41 years now, it is almost impossible to say which season I enjoy the most. The deep, pristine snows of winter offer a unique, silent beauty of a true winter wonderland. Holding the promise of skiing and, more recently, snow-shoeing right out of the door into a forested, woodland world that, due to its heavy undergrowth, would be largely inaccessible at any other time of year. While the languid, hot summers make swimming, canoeing and hiking a daily delight, accompanied by the joy of almost every meal being eaten outside.
However, on balance, although summer and winter hold their own considerable charms, perhaps for me the best time of year is in the fall, roughly from the middle of September to end of October. This is when the fall foliage offers its most vibrant, spectacular showing - a complete sea of colour from horizon to horizon. The days are often still warm enough to enjoy swimming and canoeing while in the evenings the temperature plummets to allow for the pleasure of a roaring log fire with a good book and glass of wine, or fine malt whisky!