New Forest
 - Explorers
New Forest
Explorers Guide
Home page composite image
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.

Quick links

Facebook symbol

Search this site

New Forest 'what's on' - a small
selection of local events and activities
January 2016
Thursday, 7th - Lyndhurst Community Centre, Paraphernalia Fair, 10.00 - 4.00pm.
Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th - New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, Digi Arc Weekend, 10.00am - 3.00pm.
Thursday, 28th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Phil Beer - one of the UK's top folk musicians - in concert, 7.30pm - 11.00pm.

February 2016
Wednesday, 10th - New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, Coppicing and Conservation in Pondhead Inclosure, a talk with Dave Dibden, 2pm - 4pm (Refreshments from 2pm, talk at 2.30pm). Booking required.
Friday, 12th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Film Night - The Martian (12A), 7.30pm - 10.30pm.
Saturday, 6th February to Sunday, 1st May - New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, Special exhibition: The New Forest Remembers - WWI, 10.00am - 4.00pm daily.
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 in 2012, for example, 65 were killed and 18 injured on the roads.
Always take care when driving
New Forest seasonal highlights
Honeysuckle, an early harbinger of spring, shows signs of new growth.
Bird sounds - great tit calls and mistle thrush song, for example - are increasingly heard as the days lengthen.
Foxes breed during the early months of the year. Their presence is betrayed by barks after darkness falls.

Great grey shrikes hunt over heathland from tree-top vantage points and other perches.
Grey squirrels are often best seen in winter when deciduous trees are devoid of leaves.
Red Admirals and other butterflies that over-winter as adults may be on the wing on warm, bright days.
Roe deer
antlers continue to develop - they are cast and re-grown annually.
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley