Welcome to the New Forest Explorers Guide and a wealth of information about the magnificent New Forest National Park, information that will appeal to everybody who wants to find out more about this absolutely magical area.
Indeed, walkers, cyclists, wildlife enthusiasts, history buffs and those who simply love being in and around the Forest will discover much of interest within these pages.
The New Forest is located in south-west Hampshire, close to the south coast. It contains a magnificent variety of scenery and has relatively recently been designated the New Forest National Park. The New Forest is also unique in modern Britain - an ancient hunting ground with many special characteristics that have survived largely intact.
Ponies and donkeys wander along many of the village streets, whilst all the villages offer easy access to the beautiful landscapes of the open Forest. Shops of all descriptions are available and there is a wide choice of pubs, restaurants and tea rooms.
Marvellously unrestricted access is available for relaxation, walking and exploration using many miles of gravel tracks and countless other little-used paths. Enjoy our choice of 17 varied walks, including some that are suitable for small children in buggies, strollers or pushchairs; and others 'off-the-beaten-track' in hidden corners of the Forest where wildlife thrives and the landscape boasts secret signs of yesteryear.
(All the walks here are accompanied by a route map, full directions and information about things of interest that are likely to be seen along the way.)
Cycling, too, provides a wonderful experience for all, whether young or not so young. Explore New Forest cycle tracks, travel through breathtaking countryside and absorb the atmosphere of this historic landscape - 10 cycle rides are fully detailed, again with route maps, directions and information about things of interest along the way.
Find out here about New Forest wildlife for it is of truly international importance - not the captive 'wildlife' kept in wildlife parks, but the truly wild, wildlife likely to be encountered out in the Forest, the deer, foxes, badgers, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, wild flowers, reptiles and more.
Take a look at our comprehensive, accessible, accurate information and images, and discover the Wild Forest that few really take the time to fully explore.
Step back in time and discover the New Forest of yesteryear, explore the evidence of a long and varied history that can often be found in this aged landscape: the Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age hill forts, charcoal burners' pits, village churches and much, much more.
Contained within these pages, too, will be found a range of old maps dating back to the late 18th century, maps that show the area exactly as it was in those far off days.
And of course, here in the New Forest, ponies, donkeys, mules, cattle and autumnal pigs wander freely, continuing centuries-old commoning traditions that were once widespread over much of England.
Common of Pasture - the right to put out ponies, donkeys, mules and cattle - is still widely practised; common of mast - the right to put out pigs - much less so. Some commoners continue to enjoy the right to wood for the fire - common of fuelwood - whilst common of pasture for sheep is largely a thing of the past, alongside the now defunct common of turbary.
There is always much to do in the New Forest, whatever the weather - take a look, for example, at the What's on guide for further information - whilst historic towns and cities are also relatively nearby and so are safe, sandy beaches - details of Attractions, Activities and Days Out a little farther afield are in the Days Out guide.
The New Forest boasts a wide variety of pubs, most of which serve excellent food and drink - many are featured in our local Pub guide.
Places to stay are readily available, for there are many high quality hotels, guest houses and B&Bs from which to choose; and also caravan and campsites.
And use the 'Quick links' at the bottom of every page to access the very latest in mapping technology. Conventional maps are provided and so are satellite images, street maps that show terrain details, and 3D representations.
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The St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery were recently delighted to announce that a campaign to raise £30,000 to keep an ancient treasure trove of Roman coins in Lymington has reached its target.
The 1,608 coins from the 3rd Century, known as The Boldre Hoard, is now being purchased from the British Museum in London and will be conserved, interpreted and displayed in the newly refurbished museum in New Street, Lymington, when it re-opens this summer.
TV presenter and historian Dan Snow, who launched the appeal in October, donating the first £500, said: "I am so excited that the Boldre Hoard will be staying here in the New Forest where it belongs. The museum will be able to do it justice thanks to the amazing amount of money raised in this campaign. I can't wait to see it. Thanks to everyone who got involved!"
The coin hoard was discovered in a field near Warbourne Farm in Boldre, Lymington, in 2014. The coins were taken to the British Museum in London and officially declared archaeological treasure by a coroner. There are many theories as to how the coins came to be buried in a pot in the ground. Dan Snow's favourite theory for how the hoard came to be lost for centuries was that a panicked owner, terrified at impending violence and disorder, buried his fortune - but somehow met his fate before he could dig it back up.
(Information courtesy of St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery)
Eyeworth Pond, nestled in a shallow valley a few hundred metres downhill from Fritham's wonderful Royal Oak pub, exudes peace, quiet and natural beauty. A small stream flows through, yellow iris plants fringe the edges, water-lilies hog the surface, Canada geese, coots, moorhens and mallards float serenely on the calm waters, whilst mandarin ducks add splashes of extravagant colour.
Yet it was not always so, for the pond was only created in the second half of the nineteenth century to supply water to the nearby Schultze Gunpowder Factory which, at its peak, employed upwards of 100 people.
Today little evidence remains of this once thriving industrial enterprise in the heart of the New Forest, apart, of course, from the pond, which has now been reclaimed by nature.