New Forest
 - Explorers
     Guide
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
MENU

The New Forest

A wonderful landscape, unique traditions and marvellous wildlife

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.

Introduction

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.

Spring in Brinken Wood
Spring in Brinken Wood

Walking and cycling

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.

World class wildlife

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.

History and heritage

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.

New Forest ponies and traditional common rights

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.

A beautiful heathland pond at Acres Down
A beautiful heathland
pond at Acres Down

Things to do and places to go

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.

And more .....

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.

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

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.

Commoners' cattle at Swan Green
Commoners' cattle relax at
Swan Green, near Lyndhurst
Spring is here
in all its glory
Robin singing
And spring means bird song aplenty. Avian visitors from Africa and other far-flung places can be heard from late-March onwards, but local residents - robins, wrens, blackbirds, song thrushes and many more - also belt out their tunes for all to hear. The dawn chorus is well worth getting up for, whilst a slightly more subdued version takes place at dusk, although most species also sing intermittently throughout the day.
New Forest ponies enjoying the sunshine
New Forest ponies enjoy
the sunshine at Deadman Hill
Yippee - it's bluebell time!
Bluebells
Bluebell foliage can often be seen from late-January onwards and the first blooms from late-March or early April, with the peak flowering period usually from mid-April to early May. But bluebells in the New Forest are often quite literally 'thin on the ground' - the deer and commoners' stock see to that. However, Pondhead Inclosure, near Lyndhurst, where the stock are wholly excluded and deer numbers limited, boasts fine arrays of these beautiful plants. To see for yourself, why not try our shorter Pondhead Inclosure walk or longer Pondhead Inclosure walk?
Time to enjoy a drink at one of the many local pubs
It's time to relax at one
of the many local pubs
Quick links


 Search this site


In-focus:
The Boldre Hoard campaign hits £30k target

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)

New Forest 'what's on' - a small
selection of local events and activities
May 2017
Sunday, 7th - Burley Village Hall, Visions LifeForce, 10.30am - 5.00pm.
Saturday, 20th - Ringwood Fanfare for Spring - International Festival of Street Performance Art, various locations around the town, 10.30am - 4.30pm.
Wednesday, 31st - Wild Wednesday, New Forest Reptile Centre, 10.30am - 4.00pm.

June 2017
Monday, 5th - Burley Village Hall, Film Night, 7.30pm.
All of May and then on until Sunday, 11th June - Exbury Gardens, Four Seasons Art Exhibition, 10.00am - 5.00pm.
All of May and then on until Sunday, 9th July - New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, Special Exhibition - All Trees are Clocks, 10.00am - 4.30pm.
Saturday, 17th - Walkies Workshop, Beaulieu Heath car park, 1.00pm - 3.00pm. Forestry Commission event.
View the full 'What's on' programme.
A look at the landscape:
Eyeworth Pond
Eyeworth Pond

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.

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, but in 2015, 55 were killed on the roads.
Always take care when driving
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley