New Forest
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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

New Forest Walks - Walks from Lyndhurst

Walk 8
Lyndhurst’s old Race Ground, the golf course, woodlands and heathlands

Start: Lyndhurst village centre, or the roadside lay-by opposite the Police Station.
Terrain: Mainly on level ground, but with a small number of gentle gradients; and mostly firm, but as sections can at times be wet and muddy, strong boots are recommended.
Distance: 9 kilometres (5½ miles).

Walk route and map
After leaving the village centre, the walk crosses an extensive area of grassland that is a magnet for commoners’ ponies and cattle. Until around 1880 it was the site of Lyndhurst’s race ground - the adjacent road is still called Racecourse View. And from 1922 until after the Second World War, it played host to the New Forest pony sales and accompanying fair.

Beyond the race ground, the route skirts Lyndhurst golf course, before passing through a narrow band of alder carr, and an extensive area of heathland. Ancient, unenclosed woodland is a significant feature of the area, particularly later in the walk, and so are woodland inclosures.

The path through Rushpole Wood
The path through Rushpole Wood

Indeed, 19th century inclosure planting has had a profound effect on this and many other parts of the New Forest. Such landscape changes have, though, in most cases had many years in which to become established, and wildlife is abundant in both the old woods and relatively new inclosures.

Listen for the year-round ringing calls of nuthatches as these dapper creatures clamber up trunks and boughs. Great spotted and green woodpeckers are also prominently present, whilst lesser spotted woodpeckers tend to be far less conspicuous. Goldcrests and occasional firecrests are drawn to the areas of conifers, whilst buzzards are increasingly seen and heard soaring above the tree tops.

In season, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies haunt the woodlands, heathlands and wetter places; whilst late in the year, sea trout spawn in the streams, contributing to plentiful supplies of food for breeding season kingfishers.

Extravagantly shaped autumnal fungi are also often abundant, whilst fallow deer and roe deer can regularly be seen.

Passed along the way:
Alder woodland
New Forest streams
Ancient unenclosed woodlands
Broad-leaved inclosures
Coniferous inclosures

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New Forest seasonal highlights
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.

Silver-washed fritillary butterflies brighten many woodland rides.
Bird song subsides as the annual moult begins, old worn feathers are cast off and new replacements grown.
Wild gladiolus plants bloom. (In the UK, this species is found only in the New Forest).
Dragonflies and Damselflies take to the wing in ever increasing numbers.
** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%. And in the full year, 63 animals were killed on the roads compared to 56 in 2017.
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley