New Forest
 - Explorers
New Forest
Explorers Guide
New Forest villages composite image
Pony near Hampton Ridge
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
***** For information about New Forest access restrictions and related matters, check out the Forestry England website. *****

New Forest villages - an introduction

New Forest Villages - Lyndhurst High Street
New Forest Villages - Lyndhurst High Street

New Forest Villages offer all the facilities expected of popular visitor destinations. Pubs serve real ale and real hospitality. English, French, Indian, Chinese and Thai restaurants offer a wide choice of food, whilst hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments cater for every level of accommodation need.

New Forest Villages also boast a wide range of shops and all the other trappings of modern life, but for residents and visitors alike, there's far more than that to see and enjoy. Where else, for example, do ponies, donkeys and sometimes cattle wander freely along village streets, at times holding up the traffic but always causing amusement amongst on-lookers?

Lyndhurst (A), for example, is the most centrally located New Forest village. Sometimes known as the Capital of the New Forest, it is home to the ancient Verderers' Hall and to Queen's House, an essentially 17th century building on the site of a 13th century Royal manor house, and now the local Forestry Commission headquarters.

Nearby Brockenhurst (B) is of equal interest - it is the only New Forest Village that had a church mentioned in the Domesday Book. The village, though, has grown substantially since those times, and has, in fact, shifted its centre away from church and manor to be closer to the through road and mainline railway station.

Beaulieu (C) is perhaps best known for the National Motor Museum and its old Cistercian Abbey, although the village's picturesque location alongside a tidal mill-pond is equally noteworthy, and so is its long-established connection with the old ship building centre at nearby Buckler's Hard.

Burley (D), meanwhile, like other New Forest Villages, offers direct access to the open lands of the New Forest, has a pub connected by local legend to the once prolific smuggling trade and once had a resident who was a renowned White Witch!

And finally, there is Sway (E), 4.5 kilometres (2¾ miles) south-west of Brockenhurst. A small(ish) village just outside the old New Forest perambulation, yet within the New Forest National Park, Sway is perhaps best known for the Sway Tower, often referred to as Peterson’s Folly, a 66 metre (200 feet) high concrete tower constructed in the late 19th century. Sway, like Brockenhurst, has a railway station on the Weymouth / Bournemouth / Southampton / London Waterloo main line, and a number of shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels and numerous residential properties.

New Forest Villages - a Beaulieu traffic jam
New Forest villages - a Beaulieu traffic jam

Then, of course, there are many other less substantial settlements within the New Forest National Park, relatively small, often well-spread hamlets with long, fascinating histories of habitation that today may or may not have a village hall, shop, church and chapel; but often possess always hospitable New Forest country pubs – examples of local hamlets include Boldre, Bramshaw, Brook, East Boldre, Exbury, Fritham, Frogham, Godshill, Hale, Linwood and Woodgreen.

Enjoy discovering these and other New Forest Villages within the pages of the New Forest Explorers’ Guide, for here village life and history are graphically brought together in words and pictures.

Old prints, postcards and maps are used to depict the New Forest Villages as they were in days gone-by, and walk routes are included that take the traveller past many of the features mentioned.

Travel slowly, then, and preferably on foot. Absorb the unique atmosphere of these places, and experience the spirit of life as it was in earlier times.

Find out more about New Forest villages

Beaulieu - a 'beautiful place' much appreciated by the Normans
Brockenhurst - a lively, but largely traditional village
Burley - famously home in days-gone-by to smugglers and a white witch
Lyndhurst - the historic 'Capital of the New Forest'
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The Glorious New Forest
The New Forest
The New Forest
Marvellous landscapes, marvellous wildlife
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, sika and muntjac 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.
** New Forest ponies and other animals**
The New Forest
Commoners' ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during 2019 agisters attended 159 road traffic accidents involving these animals, a small but disappointing increase on the 154 accidents attended in 2018.

Sadly, 58 animals were killed - 35 ponies, 13 cows, 8 donkeys and 2 sheep, whilst a further 32 were injured - 3 pigs, 9 donkeys, 11 cows and 9 ponies.

(Forty-three accidents occurred in daylight, 15 at twilight and 101 in the dark. Twenty-seven accidents were not reported by the driver involved).

Here's just one horrific example - Three donkeys killed in collision with van at notorious New Forest blackspot (Advertiser and Times)
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley