The New Forest
'A wonderful landscape, unique traditions and marvellous wildlife'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 relax at one
of the many local pubs
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.
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.
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.
Catch up here with the local news, details of traffic conditions and weather forecasts for the New Forest, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight.
at Swan Green
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.
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.
The New Forest
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New Forest 'what's on' - a small
selection of local events and activities
Wednesday 6th - New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst; Deer of the British Isles; Stan Kemish - evening talk, pre-booking required.
Monday 11th - Burley Village Hall, film night, 7.30pm.
Saturday 16th - Fanfare for Spring: Ringwood International Festival of Street Performance Art, 11.00am - late afternoon.
Saturday 23rd - Exbury Gardens, Azalea Amble, 2 hour tour commences at 10.00am, pre-booking essential.
Wednesday 3rd - Beaulieu Road, A Walk with Four-legged Architects, Forestry Commission led, 10.00am - 2.30pm, booking required.
Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th - Countryside Education Trust, Beaulieu; Little Owls - parents and toddlers club.
Friday 12th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Film night, Testament of Youth, 7.00pm for 7.30pm.
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, 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
Bluebells and other wild flowers brighten the woods, usually in relatively small numbers.
Bird song can be heard throughout the day but is at its loudest at dawn and, to a lesser extent, dusk.
Foals are born in increasing numbers and can be seen beside ever-attentive mares.
Dragonflies are more frequently observed on the wing as spring progresses.
Badgers can now often be watched above ground well before darkness falls.
Deer - fallow, red, roe and sika deer are all present - give birth, although the youngsters are unlikely to be noticed until July.
Heath spotted-orchids add delicate pink colour to many of the heaths.
Hobbies, dashing birds of prey, can often be seen aloft, hawking for insects.