A scenic drive across the New Forest  

Drive across the New Forest avoiding main roads, exploring its varied landscapes and settlements

 Scenic drive across the New Forest - map

It’s relatively easy to cover quite large distances across the New Forest fairly rapidly along main roads.  For example the shortest route between Lymington and Frogham via Ringwood is 40-45 minutes drive in good traffic conditions.  The roads in question are busy, but when you need them they’re also very useful!

But if you have time and would like to get the feel of the geography of the New Forest as part of a driving tour with purpose, this lovely route will take you between those two places across some of the less well known yet most beautiful parts of the New Forest. So this is a great way on a weekend break or week’s holiday to explore a large section of the forest in one go. 

You’ll discover the lesser known quiet villages with their own history and beautiful in their way too. You’ll observe the largest expanse of water in the New Forest and pass through some lovely ancient mixed woodlands, drive between the tallest trees, have the opportunity to spot several varieties of deer, and experience the thrill as you emerge onto the high unpopulated open heathlands of the northern Forest.

This route can be as leisurely as you like:  there are lots of options for stopping along the way to enjoy the views, take a stroll and indeed to have a good pub lunch and afternoon tea.

This route avoiding all the main roads is perfect for when you have time to enjoy the beauty of the Forest as part of your day out.  It is however best undertaken NOT during school holidays because some of the roads are very narrow and get very busy particularly in the summer months – especially the stretch of the route between Rhinefield and Bolderwood where it’s sometimes necessary to drive onto a rough surface to pass traffic coming the other way.  If you choose an autumn weekday you probably won’t meet much oncoming traffic at all.

Discover some of the secrets of the New Forest between Lymington and Frogham

Our scenic route takes you via lesser known roads from Lymington past the Isle of Wight Ferry Terminal (for an excursion on another day!), via the villages of South Baddesley, East End and East Boldre to Hatchet Pond, and through the woods to the outskirts of Brockenhurst.  

Lots of donkeys at all seasonsin the squatters village of East Boldre

Avoiding the village centre it takes you out towards some of the most admired parts of the New Forest including the wonderful ornamental drives of Rhinewood and Bolderwood Arboretum, with the tallest trees in the New Forest and the oldest oak too.   

You’ll continue on and come out at Bolderwood car park, close to the deer hide where at various times of day you can view different types of deer grazing peacefully. 

You’ll then head across a vast empty wilderness of high open heathland across the top of the New Forest. 

New Forest scenic drive - open heathland in the north of the Forest

The views in all directions are glorious.  It’s a wide open landscape with not even a hamlet en route, but you’re likely to see some cyclists – this is a very popular part of the New Forest for biking both on and off road. You will then bear to the left towards civilisation at Linwood, and eventually descend off the high plains to the valley below.

The last part is a very steep descent to the famous ford at Rockley.

From there you’ll then be winding your way north via pretty forest villages, and driving parallel to the busy A338 which is just a couple of miles to your west taking drivers in a hurry between Ringwood and Fordingbridge.  You however will be blissfully unaware of this busy-ness, as you pass through one scenic village after another finally reaching Frogham, and the additional reward of a great pub for lunch.

Frogham is the gateway to the high escarpment known as Hampton Ridge, which on foot or by horseback links Frogham with Fritham to the east.  So if you’re suitably equipped with footwear you can at this point also go for a hike which offers spectacular views in all directions.

Whether you’re visitor or local this drive gives you a chance to see some of the special scenic spots and hidden gems of the New Forest which lie either literally en-route or at least minutes away from the main roads. 

Driving instructions scenic drive - download here

Then watch this space – next week we’ll add another section to this route  along the far northern perimeter of the forest and around to Fritham, and take you back towards Lymington via a different route.

Self catering properties close to the start of our scenic drive...

New Forest Holiday Lets has a number of self catering properties in Lymington and Brockenhurst - convenient base whether for a short break or a full week, and close to the start of the scenic drive - so that's one day sorted!  All our properties come with Virtual Tours - take a look at the "Our Properties" section of our website.

As locals ourselves we know the forest inside out and also all our properties, and we're always delighted to share our knowledge and enthusiasm for the beautiful place in which we live and work!  So if you're considering a New Forest break do give us a call to chat through the options we can offer.

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