Cycling is fun for people of all ages and fitness. Being in the countryside and enjoying views with friends and family is a great way to stay fit and appreciate nature’s beauty. The New Forest provides great cycling opportunities on quiet roads and off-road trails, and everyone can find the right route for them, whether a gentle ride or fitness training. Below is a couple in the heart of the forest.
Road ride from Boltons Bench, Lyndhurst, to Beaulieu and back (16½ miles)
Boltons Bench car park is a good size but is popular, so don’t get there late on a sunny day! From the car park, take the road towards Beaulieu (B3056). There’s a slight climb after 1 mile, but your reward is the view to the left towards Matley Heath. Continue on the B3056, over the railway line at Beaulieu Road station – look out for the pens on the left where the horses are kept for the annual horse sale.
A few hundred yards after the station, turn left onto Yew Tree Heath Road (historical fact, Yew Tree Heath was a Heavy Anti-Aircraft gun battery built on the high ground east of Beaulieu Road). After 2½ miles, at the crossroads turn right onto Beaulieu Road (later becomes North Lane). This starts in open heathland, but then enters Kings Hat Inclosure, hopefully with the sun streaming through as you ride. Continue until you come to a T junction, then turn left onto Hatchet Lane. After about ½ mile, pass the National Motor Museum, then the beautiful sight of Mill Pond and Beaulieu Village, a classic English view not to be missed. Turn left just after the pond into Palace Lane and then, when you see The Montagu Arms Hotel straight in front of you, turn right for the Village centre. Here you get another reward – ice cream, chocolate, and a café along this pretty, cobbled street.
After pleasant refuelling, continue for 100 yards and turn right at the T junction onto Hatchet Lane (B3054, becomes B3056) and head back to Lyndhurst. You will pass through Honeyhill Wood and Pig Bush before breaking out into open heathland again. Stay on this road all the way back to the car park – which is a short walk from Lyndhurst Village and more ice cream, or perhaps a big bag of chips!
Gravel trail ride from Beechern Wood car park (Brockenhurst), looping around Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and back (8 miles) – with optional Tall Trees Walk
Beechern Wood car park is just outside Brockenhurst on the right-hand side of Rhinefield Road This route is mostly on gravel, with the final section on road.
From the car park, take the tarmac track, past Aldridge Hill campsite on the left, then pass by a low barrier onto a gravel trail to Water Copse Inclosure, a delightful area with Bolderford Bridge over the Lymington River. After the bridge, go through a double gate and then left (see cycle path sign). Stay on this through New Park Plantation until next gate, then turn left through Hursthill Inclosure. Yet another gate leads to a fascinating area on your left that can be very boggy, so stay on the trail. A small bridge goes over Highland Water, then the track bends right to Poundhill Inclosure and another gate (!). Go straight until a X-trail, turn right, follow the trail until the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, then straight over to another gravel track – take care when crossing the road.
After crossing the road to the next trail, you have the option to turn left into Brock Hill car park to access the 1.4 mile Tall Trees Trail walk – a nationally important collection of trees from all over the world. This takes you past majestic conifers planted in the 1850s and views of 2 enormous redwoods.
The walk ends back at the start point where you continue along the track, passing over Black Water via a ford – usually only a problem in winter, when it can get deep! Turn right onto the Ornamental Drive and follow the road as it bends left by Rhinefield House hotel and continue on the road until you reach the car park starting point. Time to hit the cafés or pubs in Brockenhurst, well deserved!