Favourite New Forest Walks
New Forest Holiday Lets favourite walks in the Forest
Many people visit the New Forest primarily for the wonderful walking. It’s such a unique wild area of diverse landscape, yet the terrain is largely accessible for all ages and sizes, with plenty of footpaths and gravel tracks through gated Inclosures.
Although you’ll encounter ponies, cows and donkeys along the way you’re unlikely to be confronted with an angry herd as happens sometimes elsewhere where “going for a walk” inevitably involves crossing farmers’ fields!
Whether you prefer open heathland or secluded woodland you’ll always find a walk to suit your mood and even in the wildest weather a relatively sheltered route. And if you need advice about the most suitable walk for the occasion just pick up the phone and call us on 01590 622449 – we know the best spots to keep out of the wind whatever the direction, and we love sharing our local knowledge.
Selection of New Forest walks – some of our personal favourites
In fact we’re all locals who’ve lived in the Forest for a long time, and most of us also love to walk! And of course we make it our business to discover the walks local to the properties we manage which are well distributed throughout the Forest. So here’s a selection of some of our favourite walks in the New Forest.
We recommend taking your bearings visually where possible and carrying the OS map. It’s a practical choice too - in many parts of the Forest you won’t get a signal for your GPS.
Walks for families - wide open spaces, great for kicking balls, playing cricket and flying kites!
Long Slade Bottom
Long Slade Bottom is a great area for walking as it offers such a large expanse of heathland for children to tear about and it’s great for dog walking too. Plus you get lovely views if you walk up on the top path and do a loop around. (The photos on this link don’t do it justice.)
A slightly more challenging walk in the same area is a circular tour taking in Brockenhurst at the halfway point – with plenty of choices for a lunch pitstop.
Wilverley Plain and Inclosure
Not far from Long Slade is another of our favourite walks at Wilverley which has a big car park and is also convenient if you’re holidaying based in Brockenhurst. Wilverley Plain is another wide open space great for play.
One of our favourite longer New Forest walks walks strikes out across the open forest away from the road and down to the stream (wellies recommended) and takes a big loop around back alongside the Inclosure, but a much easier alternative is to walk inside the Inclosure where it’s usually quiet and a good place in inclement weather as it’s sheltered by the beautiful trees and never gets muddy due to good gravel tracks.
Walk for fresh air and 360 degree views
Keyhaven, Hurst Spit and Hurst Castle
Park in the car park opposite the Gun Inn then walk to the shingle bank via the foot path around the harbour and the crabbing bridge (or you could pick up a parking spot alongside Mount Lake but be warned that the high tide sometimes comes across the road).
This walk is not only a a great work out for the legs walking along the shingle but also offers a fantastic sense of space, with fabulous views in all directions. A “circular tour” can be accomplished by catching the Hurst Castle ferry back to Keyhaven.
Another lovely walk in this area takes you along the sea wall from Keyhaven to Lymington via the salt marshes (or the other way around, depending on time of day if you feel like walking towards the setting sun!) - and this is an excellent route for bird spotting.
Walk for all seasons
From Furzey Lane - foul and fair weather options
There are two routes from the end of Furzey Lane near Beaulieu: a popular circuit within Rans Wood Inclosure is good for wild weather because it’s mostly sheltered and usually dry underfoot thanks again to the gravel tracks. But in summer you can be more adventurous- head right down the track from the car park, cross the stream and strike through the old woods to Pig Bush, you’ll take in a mix of deciduous forest and grassy glades and if you keep bearing left you’ll bring yourself around an interesting circuit.
The Turfcutters Arms walk taking in Hatchet Pond as well as Rans Wood is another option especially in winter with a warmup at the cosy pub afterwards!
Short riverside walk with plenty of nature and historic interest along the way
Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard
The well trodden Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard route mainly through the trees is a good walk for holiday makers, it’s not too far especially with a drink or ice cream either end of it to keep the children motivated. Beaulieu River is exceptionally beautiful and there’s plenty of both nature and historic interest along the way.
Walk for the sheer beauty of the Forest
Acres Down, Minstead
This is a beautiful circular walk from a Minstead Inclosure called Acres Down through in to Holmhill Inlosure and on to Highland Water Inclosure which then leads back to Acres Down car park. There are also cream teas at Acres Down farm tearoom or ice creams and cold drinks from the farm shop – both are close to the car park so convenient to finish the walk off.
This route is absolutely stunning forest with some lovely views. It’s best walked in summer – in winter it can get very boggy in places.
Walk for fabulous isolation
This is a splendid walk, only marred by the need to walk for a short distance along a busy road but it’s worth it for the stunning enormity of Kingston Great Common. With thanks to New Forest Tourist for the panorama.
Walk for a view!
Frogham Pub Walk – including a steep ascent up to and rewarding views from Hampton Ridge
This is a great 3 miles circular walk from the Foresters Arms pub in Frogham which has been tested by one of our team who took lots of photos along the way.
It starts from and ends at the pub and encompasses some of the most remote forest heathlands, with fabulous views from Hampton Ridge from where you can survey most of the rest of the Forest. You can pick up the “Pub Walk” leaflet at the Foresters.
If you want a longer walk in this remote northern part of the Forest, park at Abbots Well and walk up onto Hampton Ridge for panoramic views, then follow the ridge via Pitts Wood Inclosure, Little Cockley Plain, Hasley Inclosure and Fritham (the Royal Oak would make a good pit stop) and skirt Latchmore Brook to complete the circuit. With a good variety of wooded habitats and wildlife to photograph this is a lovely walk to spend a day of your itinerary.
Exploring on foot with children, the elderly, and dogs
Requirements are similar for families with very young children with tiny legs and those accompanying less mobile adults for some fresh air and a change of scene.
A reasonably level terrain is necessary for buggies and wheelchairs, and preferably a round trip route which leads from and back to the car park.
With a little knowledge both groups will find interesting walks of suitable length aplenty. There’s a good selection of accessible walks on the New Forest National Park Authority website including parts of some of our favourites mentioned here.
A final note about walking with dogs
Rules are very fair towards dog owners walking in the New Forest. Essentially keep your dog under control - if you can’t it needs to be on a lead. Ground nesting bird areas are usually sign posted but be aware March-July. Depending on where you are, picking up after your dog is sometimes impractical and it’s far better to use a couple of sticks and find a gorse bush, than to leave a plastic bag lying where other animals will find it. It’s all common sense. Take a quick look at these two links regarding walking with dogs:
With thanks to photographers including Matt Callaghan, SeeInside.co.uk, Georgie Hough.