New Forest
 - Explorers
New Forest
Explorers Guide
Walking 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. *****

Health Walks in and around the New Forest

Health Walks in and around the New Forest are co-ordinated by Community First New Forest, a charity that seeks to improve the quality of life for people and communities living in the area.

The programme encourages people of all ages to join regular, usually relatively short walks that are fun, sociable and free. Each walk is led by a trained walk leader and provides opportunities for participants to visit local open spaces in the company of other like-minded people, whilst at the same time enjoying the often significant health benefits that walking provides.

Regular walking - the potential health benefits:

  • Improves heart health
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Builds strength in muscles and bones
  • Builds stamina and gives more energy
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Helps people breathe more efficiently
  • Aids restful sleep
  • Builds confidence and mental well-being

And of course, walking requires very little special equipment or training, applies only low impact to the joints and carries only a very small risk of injuries and accidents.

Attending a walk

Be sure to wear boots / other footwear and clothing suitable for the terrain and likely weather conditions.

Many walk leaders will accept the presence of dogs, although some of the walks - for example, those on nature reserves - are not 'dog friendly'. Ask the leader, then, whether dogs can come along.

The walks are intended for, and should only be undertaken by, persons in basic good health. If you are in any doubt about whether you are medically fit enough to undertake a walk, consult your doctor before participating.

You are responsible for the safety of yourself and any accompanying under 18s - walkers walk at their own risk. Note: the walk leaders are not trained to provide first aid.

Details of health walks and contacts can be found at Health Walks.

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** 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