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 enjoying the sunshine
New Forest ponies enjoying the sunshine

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 a comprehensive route map, full directions and information about the wildlife and other things of interest likely to be seen along the way. Details are also included of a further six walks on and around the New Forest National Park coastline.

Spring in Brinken Wood
Spring in Brinken Wood

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 - 11 cycle rides are fully detailed here, virtually all of which are also suitable for walk routes.

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.

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

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.

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
December 2018
Friday, 30th November - Sunday, 9th December (excluding 3rd - 6th) - Father Christmas at Furzey Gardens, 11.00am - 7.00pm.
Saturday, 8th - New Forest Heritage Centre, Lyndhurst, Christmas Badge Making, 10.00am - 3.00pm.

January 2019
Saturday, 5th - Lyndhurst Community Centre, Book Fair, 10.00am - 4.00pm.
Friday, 11th - Brockenhurst Village Hall, Film Night - Peterloo (12A), 7.30pm.
Saturday, 12th January to Sunday, 10th March - New Forest Heritage Centre, Lyndhurst, Photographic Exhibition by Cathryn Baldock - Reimagining the Forest, 10.00am - 3.30pm.
Saturday, 26th - Lyndhurst Community Centre, Royal British Legion Burns Night, 7.30pm.

For further details, view the full New Forest What's on programme.
** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%.
** Always take care when driving **
A look at the landscape:
Stoney Cross
Ocknell Pond

With its delightful mixture of gorse-clad heathland, ancient and man made woodlands, and scattered pools, the area a little to the west and north-west of Stoney Cross ticks all the boxes for those who like a bit of variety in the landscape.

Anses Wood, for example, is ancient, pasture woodland; whilst Ocknell Inclosure was first developed in 1775 but for the most part exhibits many of the characteristics of open woodland. Long Beech Inclosure, too, dates from 1775, North and South Bentley from 1700, and King's Garn Gutter Inclosure from 1860.

Cadman's Pool is a lot more recent, though, for it was created only in the 1960s at the behest of the then Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest, Arthur Cadman. Nearby Ocknell Pond (shown above) and Janesmoor Pond are, however, both entirely natural.

But there is much more of interest here, for Ocknell Plain was the site of a World War Two airfield known as RAF Stoney Cross. Check out a Stoney Cross Airfield satellite map view and the outlines of the three runways can still be clearly seen and so can some of the dispersal areas where aircraft were left in-between periods of activity.

The runway outlines are also visible on the ground - they are at a slightly lower level than the adjacent land; are often bordered on both sides by lines of brambles or gorse; are (needless to say) absolutely straight; and the grass is often of a different shade to that of adjacent land, with patches of gravel, occasional bricks and pieces of concrete showing through.

Aircraft dispersal areas can also still be found, some - such as those in Ocknell campsite - boasting original concrete surfaces. Look out, too, for the remains of regularly spaced runway light blocks in the grass beside the Linwood road - this road was constructed along the northern edge of the main runway - and for miscellaneous sections of roadside and other war-time concrete, including the remains of airfield service roads and other facilities within Longbeech campsite.

Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley