The enchanting New Forest is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its diverse landscapes, ancient woodlands, and abundant wildlife, the New Forest is a paradise for walkers of all levels. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a casual stroller, we've compiled a list of the 7 best walks in the New Forest, each with its unique charm. From leisurely family strolls to more challenging hikes, these walks promise unforgettable experiences amidst the stunning natural beauty of this national park.
Length: 2.7 miles (4.2 km)
Location: Rhinefield Ornamental Drive
The Rhinefield Ornamental Drive Walk is a 3-mile route that takes you through the enchanting Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, home to a magnificent collection of tall redwoods and Douglas firs. This walk is a great choice for those seeking a leisurely stroll amidst awe-inspiring tree-lined avenues. The level terrain makes it suitable for families and visitors of all ages. Full walk details.
Length: 4.8 miles (7.7 km)
Location: Hurst Castle
For a more invigorating adventure, head to Hurst Castle and Keyhaven Marshes. This 4-mile hike offers a splendid mix of coastal vistas and marshland beauty, creating a unique walking experience. Explore the historic Hurst Castle, where you can capture stunning views of the Solent, making it a photographer's dream. The trail may be a bit uneven, so make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. The area is also a hotspot for diverse birdlife, including wading birds and wildfowl. Full walk details.
Length: 6 miles (9.6 km)
The Brockenhurst Circular Walk is a delightful 6-mile trek that guides you through enchanting woodlands, open heathlands, and quaint villages. The well-signposted path is perfect for moderately experienced hikers and families. Take some time to explore the charming village of Brockenhurst, and don't miss the chance to observe the free-roaming New Forest ponies. This walk is especially captivating during the autumn months when the forest is ablaze with vibrant foliage. Full walk details.
Length: 2 miles (3.1 km)
The Ober Water Walk is a 2.5-mile exploration of enchanting woodlands and wetlands. This walk is perfect for families and those seeking a peaceful stroll in nature. Wander alongside the meandering Ober Water, surrounded by towering trees and lush vegetation. The flat terrain makes it accessible to walkers of all ages. Keep an eye out for the vibrant plant and animal life that thrives in this unique ecosystem. Full walk details.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Length: 4.8 miles (7.6 km)
The Burley Village and Open Forest Walk offers a delightful 4-mile hike that takes you through the heart of the New Forest. Starting in the charming village of Burley, you'll venture into the expansive open forest where you can encounter New Forest ponies and cattle grazing freely. The trail features a combination of easy and moderate sections, with some gentle ascents. Be sure to explore the unique shops and tearooms in Burley and sample the renowned New Forest Cider! Full walk details.
Length: 3.3 miles (5.3 km)
Location: Wilverley Inclosure
Wilverley Inclosure offers a gentle and picturesque 3.3-mile walk through ancient woodlands. The terrain is relatively flat, making it a perfect choice for families and those looking for a peaceful stroll. The inclosure is rich in history and natural beauty, with towering trees and a serene pond. Keep an eye out for New Forest ponies, as they are often seen grazing in this area. Full walk details.
Length: 5.3 miles (8.4 km)
For a refreshing coastal experience, embark on the Lymington to Keyhaven Coastal Walk. This 4-mile hike along the Solent coastline offers a unique blend of scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical interest. The trail can be uneven in places, so comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Explore the salt marshes, sand dunes, and the iconic Hurst Castle while enjoying the breathtaking sea views. This walk is especially rewarding during sunrise or sunset, with the vivid colours reflecting off the water. Full walk details.
Before setting off on any of these fabulous walks in the New Forest, here are some essential tips to ensure you have a safe and memorable adventure:
Check the Weather: The New Forest weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layer up, bring waterproofs, and wear appropriate footwear.
Respect the Wildlife: The New Forest is home to various wildlife, including the iconic New Forest ponies. Always keep a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching the animals.
Stay Hydrated: Even on shorter walks, it's crucial to stay hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill as needed.
Navigation Tools: While the trails are well-signposted, it's a good idea to carry a map or GPS device for extra assurance.
Leave No Trace: Preserve the beauty of the New Forest by picking up after yourself and disposing of litter responsibly.
Respect Private Property: Some walks may cross private land. Stick to designated paths and be mindful of landowners' rights.
Plan Ahead: Know your fitness level and select a walk that suits your abilities. Let someone know your plans, particularly for longer or more remote hikes.
With this guide in hand, you're ready to explore the stunning New Forest, a place where nature thrives, and beauty abounds. So, put on your walking shoes and immerse yourself in the serene landscapes of this unique national park, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Happy hiking!