New Forest
 - Explorers
New Forest
Explorers Guide
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Pony near Hampton Ridge
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park

The New Forest

'A wonderful landscape, unique traditions and marvellous wildlife'

New Forest ponies ignore no stopping signs
New Forest ponies on Beaulieu High Street
turn their backs on the 'No Stopping' sign

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.

New Forest villages

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.

Walks in the Forest

The New Forest offers marvellously unrestricted access for relaxation, walking and exploration using many miles of gravel tracks and countless other little-used paths. Included here are details of 17 wonderfully varied walks, each accompanied by its own comprehensive route map, full directions and information about the wildlife and other things of interest.

Cycle rides: for all the family

Cycling provides a wonderful experience for all. Travel through breathtaking countryside and absorb the atmosphere of this historic landscape - 10 cycle rides are fully detailed here.

What’s on: our events listing

There is always much to do in the New Forest, whatever the weather - take a look at our What's on guide for further information.

Days out: great places to visit

The New Forest is an ideal destination for day visits, weekends and longer holidays, 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.

Wildlife in all its glory

The local wildlife is of international importance. Deer can regularly be seen, butterflies are at times abundant, and so are dragonflies and damselflies. Look out also for wild flowers and a variety of birds. Use our Wildlife guide to discover what you are likely to see.

Time to enjoy a drink at one of the many local pubs
Time to relax at one
of the many local pubs

New Forest pub 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.

History and heritage...

Evidence of long and varied history can often be found in this aged landscape, including Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age hill forts and much else - check out our History and heritage guide for further information.

Ponies, pigs and cattle

Here, ponies, donkeys, cattle and autumnal pigs wander freely, continuing centuries-old commoning traditions that were once widespread over much of England - common rights, both past and present, are outlined in the Common rights section.

Local news, traffic and weather forecasts

Catch up here with the local news, details of traffic conditions and weather forecasts for the New Forest, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight.

Commoners' cattle at Swan Green
Commoners' cattle
at Swan Green

Places to stay - B&Bs, hotels, self-catering

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.

Maps: up to-date and from the distant past

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.

Then for those with an interest in things historical, contained within the History and heritage section 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.

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New Forest 'what's on' - a small
selection of local events and activities
September 2015
Saturday, 5th - Lyndhurst Community Centre, Hampshire Mineral and Fossil Show, 10.00am - 4.30pm.
Saturday, 12th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Vibrant Beer Festival, 1.30pm - 10.00pm.
Wednesday, 16th - The Bell Inn, Brook, near Cadnam; Wildlife Photography with Amy Lacey, ABIPP; 2.00pm - 5.00pm. More details.
Sunday, 27th - Wessex Cancer Trust, Scavenger Hunt. More details.

October 2015
Saturday, 3rd - Exbury Gardens, Amble through the Acers (followed by Lunch), 11.00am - 1.00pm. Pre-booking essential.
Sunday, 18th - Burley Village Hall, Craft Fayre, All day.
Saturday, 24th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Simon King OBE - Just Add Nature, 7.30pm - 10.00pm. Pre-booking essential.
View the full 'What's on' programme.
In the News:
New Forest Ice Houses
Access to a fridge is nowadays taken for granted, yet these essential items of household equipment only became available for domestic use in the 1920s. Before then, few people had access to cold storage or to ice for drinks or ice cream. Apart, that is, from those who could afford to build and maintain an Ice House.

But what is an Ice House? Well, they were rather succinctly described in the early 19th century as '...a sort of building sunk in the ground for the purpose of preserving ice for use during the summer season, when the weather becomes hot'.

Around twenty Ice House sites are known from the area in and around the New Forest National Park, but time has not been kind to most of these structures. Help is at hand, however, for the New Forest National Park Authority has begun work to identify and record Ice House details before undertaking repairs, and has also commissioned the production of a high tech laser scan animation of an Ice House on the Beaulieu Estate.

This fascinating, innovative laser scan and much additional information about Ice Houses is available here: New Forest Ice Houses
New Forest ponies
New Forest ponies in the road
New Forest ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene and an important element of the local economy. But 65 were killed and 18 injured on the roads in 2012.
Always take care when driving
New Forest seasonal highlights
Dragonflies and damselflies remain on the wing and so do butterflies, but in ever decreasing numbers.
Hen harriers and other autumn and winter visiting birds begin to arrive in the Forest.
Mysterious New Forest fungi - mushrooms and toadstools increasingly appear in the woods.
Red deer start to noisily rut as stags roar songs of love across favoured heaths.

Ancient, unenclosed woodlands and broad-leaved inclosures increasingly take on colourful autumnal hues.
Grey squirrels frantically seek out and store acorns for use during the cold days of winter.
Fallow deer boisterously rut for two or three weeks around the middle of the month.
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley