Walking in the New Forest offers freedom and wide open spaces, for within the New Forest National Park can be found an impressive 235 kilometres (146 miles) of public footpaths; 57 kilometres (35 miles) of public bridleways; and 26,600 hectares (266 square kilometres or 103 square miles) of Crown land with open public access.
All provide tremendous opportunities for New Forest walks, and, of course, there’s always a chance that around the next corner, deer or other wildlife will be present to captivate and entertain.
A great selection of New Forest walks are provided here. Currently, ten are based on Lyndhurst, two on nearby Millyford Bridge, four on Brockenhurst and one on Boldre.
A further ten walks along cycle routes are also provided. The cycle routes for much of the year are little used by either cyclists or pedestrians, and mainly follow compacted, usually gravel, tracks, which makes them ideal for use with a buggy or when elsewhere the ground is wet and muddy. Short sections of road are, however, included in some – cycle ride 7, for example, features the busy A35, which is not really suitable for walking - and use by forestry vehicles can sometimes result in a gathering of surface mud on the tracks.
All the walk and cycle routes included here are designed to pass through richly varied landscapes, to take in places of historic interest, and to see wildlife. Many begin from a village centre, and most pass close to Forestry Commission or other car parks that provide alternative, mid-way start points.
From late June to early / mid-September, walkers may also wish to try the New Forest Tour Bus - details of the tour bus routes, times and fares are here.
Some of the walks are fairly short, and are suitable for a quiet, evening stroll. Others are longer and will take a number of hours to complete, but even on many of these, there are few significant hills and no stiles over which to climb. (Many of the shorter routes are modified versions of longer walks, so descriptions and directions for the relevant parts are often identical).
But whilst the terrain is fairly gentle and walkers are rarely very far from a road or village, a number of safety precautions are recommended:
Full, walk directions are included, but it is always advisable to carry an up-to-date copy of the Ordnance Survey map of the area – it's Explorer OL22 (the Weatherproof version is particularly useful) - and maybe a compass, too, just in case the intended route is missed.
Access to a mobile phone can also be useful, although phone signal strength in the New Forest is at times variable.
For many of the walks, strong footwear is also necessary as, particularly after rain, some areas of the New Forest can be quite wet underfoot.
And finally, do enjoy walking in this magnificent landscape, but please treat it with respect:
Note: Occasionally, public access is not available to some areas of the New Forest whilst thinning or other Forestry Commission management work is underway – paths are closed for short periods for the safety of both visitors and workers.
Similarly, to reduce surface damage, a small number of car parks are closed, primarily in winter.
(Details of cycle route closures and some other temporary access restrictions can be be found in Cycle Route Closures).
Search this site