New Forest
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Pony near Hampton Ridge
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New Forest Walks - Walks from Brockenhurst

Walk 3
North Weirs and South Weirs, the site of Brockenhurst's Victorian Rifle Range, Hincheslea, ancient woodland, New Forest heathlands

Passed along the way
North Weirs and South Weirs; Whitefield Moor and Long Slade Bottom re-seeded grasslands; Brockenhurst’s old Rifle Range; a Bronze Age Barrow; the site of the Domesday manor at Hincheslea; and Castleman’s Corkscrew – a disused railway line.

New Forest heathland at White Moor and elsewhere along the route; Bog, Mire and Wetland Restoration near Five Thorns Hill; Ancient, unenclosed woodland at Hincheslea Wood; Hincheslea Bog; and Alder woodland alongside The Weir and around Hincheslea Bog.

The route
Distance: 7 kilometres (4¼ miles) – add a further 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) if walking from and back to Brockenhurst village centre.

Start: The turning for North Weirs, off Burley Road, close to Culverley Green – SU293021. Note - there is no parking here.
Terrain: Mainly on level ground, but with a small number of gentle gradients. Mostly firm underfoot, but in winter and after rain, some sections can be wet and muddy. Strong, waterproof boots are therefore recommended.
Railway station: Brockenhurst –1.5 kilometres away.
Camping in the Forest camp sites: Hollands Wood, 2.5 kilometres (1½ mile); Aldridge Hill 2.5 kilometres.
Alternative starts: Brockenhurst village centre car parking is available opposite the post office in Brookley Road – SU298024; at the Whitemoor car park on Rhinefield Road, at SU277024; at the Beachern Wood car park, on Rhinefield Road (SU284026; and at the Hincheslea car park on Burley Road, at SU271013.

Route map


From Brockenhurst village

Causeway over The Weir
Causeway over The Weir

1. Leave Brockenhurst’s main shopping area along Brookley Road, cross the Watersplash and turn left along Burley Road. Pass St. Saviour’s church and roads to left and right - The Rise and Wilverley Road - and further along, on the right, Armstrong Road and Armstrong Lane.

Immediately before a small bridge with white, roadside railings; turn right along a wide, gravel track signposted to North Weirs.

The route

2. Continue along the track leading to North Weirs. Ignore a public footpath on the right; and pass Linnies, a white-washed cob cottage with later brick additions, and The Thatched Cottage, an impressive residence that originally was two separate dwellings.

Ignore a path on the left beside the last paddock before reaching the open Forest, and notice on the left just beyond, a series of low mounds, the remains of intensely grazed purple moor grass tussocks.

Pass on the right Ivy Cottage and, next door, Hawthorn Cottage, both with date stones signifying construction in 1895 and 1894, respectively.

3. Follow the track as it swings right, over a low ramp, past a line of alders and gorse running away across the heath. Shortly after, turn left immediately beyond another line of trees to follow the edge of the gorse alongside a wide expanse of grassland – Whitefield Moor.

Whitefield Moor and a number of other places, when Britain faced severe Second World War-related shortages of food, were cleared of gorse and other vegetation, ploughed and used to grow potatoes, wheat and other crops. The cropped areas were subsequently sown with grass seeds to provide grazing for commoners' stock.

4. Immediately before the Whitemoor Pond car park – it’s on the right, bounded by low ‘dragon’s teeth’ boundary posts – turn 90 degrees left to follow a track through the gorse.

On the brow of a low hill, pass another path joining from the left, back from the direction of the car park; and continue downhill along the track leading towards a line of alders, birches and lichen-bedecked willows growing in the wet ground alongside The Weir. Beyond is the gorse and bracken-clad Five Thorns Hill – Richardson, King and Driver on their map, produced in the late-18th century, showed this as Vithornes.
Cross a causeway over The Weir – notice the pipes installed below the causeway, to help manage the water levels.
(The suspected location of the ‘new’ rifle range butt is immediately before the causeway, to the right of the path, hidden on a low mound amongst gorse. A low, Bronze Age barrow is also nearby, over the causeway and not far to the left, on uncharacteristically low-lying ground, hidden from view by clumps of gorse and bracken).  

5. Follow the path as it bends right, around the side of the hill; and continue on as it again swings half to the right, then goes downhill past another track on the left, then one on the right.  

Immediately after, turn left at a junction of tracks, towards a line of roadside trees. (To the right here, up towards Red Hill, are a series of low, parallel banks and ditches, perhaps of great antiquity, or maybe constructed in the last 100 years for use during military manoeuvres).

6. Cross the minor road adjacent to Hincheslea car park, turn right and then immediately left opposite the car park entrance, and follow a path through Hincheslea Wood, an ancient, unenclosed woodland bordered on one side by pastures that are on the site of the old Domesday manor.

Note: Full instructions are provided here, but in essence, the route until the start of Section 8 simply follows close to the edge of Hincheslea Wood and the edge of the adjoining heathland on the right.

Hincheslea is the site of one of four Saxon manors that once existed in the Brockenhurst area. It was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hincelveslei, the meaning of which refers to a red deer hind-calf.

Continue along the path initially parallel to, and not far from, a fence separating the Forest from the private land on the left. Follow the path as it eventually bends slightly right, uphill, close to the heathland edge. Pass two tracks - both ends of the same loop - on the right, and in-between, a minor path on the left. Continue uphill along the main track; and at a junction of tracks at the top of the hill, turn left downhill along a pronounced gravel track still running alongside the woodland / heathland edge.
(There are extensive views to the right here, over a quite deep valley, with the conifers of Set Thorns Inclosure beyond, and the re-seeded grasslands of Long Slade Bottom away to the right).

After a short distance - around 90 metres - follow a right fork at a junction of tracks to continue downhill around the woodland edge; and after a further 90 metres, at another junction of paths and tracks, follow the main track as it continues down a modest hill, still around the woodland / heathland edge.

Almost immediately go straight ahead at a crossroads - the right-hand track here leads down into the valley bottom.

7. Follow this initially relatively minor track on a course running predominantly down a gradual hill around the edge of the hillside - the track overlooks a narrow band of gorse and bracken; beyond, Hincheslea Bog; and amongst the trees opposite, the course of Castleman’s Corkscrew, an old, disused railway line.

8. Eventually meet a pronounced gravel track and turn left - to the right along this track is an area of often very wet, boggy ground; a bridge carrying the course of the old railway; and beside it, an incongruously placed grey electricity sub-station.

After turning left, immediately turn right to follow a track running along the base of the still-wooded hillside.

9. Cross a pronounced gravel track that, to the right, leads over Hincheslea Bog. Continue straight ahead through a group of pines, with to the left, a fence-line alongside private land. Follow the track as it goes right, close to a hollow – a disused pit; continue to the left at a very minor junction, and on around the edge of the bog.

Hincheslea Bog, like many other New Forest wetlands, is rich in wildlife. Wild flowers are abundant; dragonflies and damselflies hunt for prey above open patches of water; and reed buntings, curlews, redshanks and snipe breed in the vicinity.

Cross a drainage channel at a small bridge and immediately after, at a gap in a line of trees and shrubs, cross another narrow channel which is often dry in summer. Immediately after, leave the main track to follow a very minor path straight ahead over Trenley Lawn, before eventually bearing slightly to the right.

Go on towards a white-washed cottage - The Weirs Cottage. Reach an area of grassland through which flows a small stream; turn right; cross the stream at a single-plank bridge – or step over – and continue on towards the cottage.

10. Pass beside a low, Forestry Commission vehicle barrier; and follow the gravel track beside the cottage, with, now visible across the grassland on the left, the houses of South Weirs. Pass Laurel Cottage and The Upper Ford on the right, and immediately after, continue straight ahead where the main gravel track goes left.
After a short distance, pass Pear Tree Cottage on the right, and go through two kissing gates in quick succession to follow a field edge public footpath. Leave the field through another kissing gate, followed immediately by a conventional gate; and skirt a group of farm buildings on the left with, to the right, a strip of woodland bordering a stream.

Go straight on beside the stream; cross two stiles; go through a gate; cross a farm track; and go on for a short distance alongside the stream before crossing a stile and turning right along Burley Road.

11. The turn for North Weirs, the start of the route, is ahead on the left; whilst the Watersplash and Brockenhurst village centre are beyond.

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** New Forest ponies and other animals**
New Forest ponies in the road
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).
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley