The best walks in the New Forest holiday cottages

The best walks in the New Forest

All year round there are plenty of reasons to go walking in the New Forest. In a place so beautiful, with natural wonders everywhere you look, selecting any walk above another is a fool’s task. Here's a selection of some of the best New Forest walks; each is as different from the last one as possible. If you're looking for somewhere to stop for refreshments, each of the villages is home to a welcoming and charming pub.

Abbots Well and Fritham (9 miles)

Even though the region is called the New Forest, it is by no means all woods. A large proportion of it is on high heathland, allowing for some big sky views and also making it perfect for dog walks, as your dog can wander freely but remain in sight. This walk is situated in the north west of the National Park which is far more open. Throughout the walk you will hear birdsong and it would be unusual not to encounter some New Forest ponies. For the keen naturalist there is are so many aspects of the national park to pique the interest too.

This New Forest circular walk starts at Abbots Well before rising up to Hampton Ridge for panoramic countryside views. The scene is straight out of a Thomas Hardy book, although this isn't Dorset! Further along the ridge is Pitts Wood Inclosure, Little Cockley Plain, Hasley Inclosure, Fritham and before skirting Latchmere Brook to complete the circuit. With a good variety of wooded habitats and wildlife to photograph this is a lovely walk to spend a day of your itinerary on.

Find the full route details here.

Bolton's Bench and Lyndhurst stroll (7 miles)

This walk skirts around the town of Lyndhurst, so there’s a good range of habitats. The trail is mostly across forestry land, but it’s a pleasantly moderate walk with a handful of gentle ascents. The walk winds by Matley Wood, upstream of the Beaulieu River, Busketts Lawn Inclosure, Yew Tree Hill, Little Stubby Hat, Furzy Lawn Inclosure, and Lyndhurst Cemetery. Reserve a long afternoon for this memorable walk that takes in the all the elements that brought you to the New Forest in the first place.

Take a look at our collection of eye catching cottages in Lyndhurst and around the New Forest.

Find the full route details here.

Millyford Bridge walk (2.5 miles)

This walking trail is mainly over even terrain with a handful of gentle gradients. Starting at Millyford car park, this is another of the many Lyndhurst walks available, and it is a good stroll for walkers of all abilities, even small children and the elderly. Strong footwear is recommended.

The path runs through a wooded habitat with over-hanging boughs and a variety of oaks and conifers. The steep-banked Highland Water flows over gravel beds on its way to the sea. Holm Inclosure has a bold display of large, old trees, all along the way down to Highwater Inclosure. The path continues through Woosons Hill Enclosure and the Portuguese Fireplace. A plaque explains the curious name: ‘This is the site of a hutted camp occupied by a Portuguese army unit during the First World War. This unit assisted the depleted local labour force in producing timber for the war effort.’

Find the full route details here.

Wilverley Inclosure (2.5 miles)

This is a great forest walk for those that love gentle strolls along conifer lined avenues. The circular walk is a wide gravel path that winds its way through new and old plantations. There’s also a number of routes within the ‘inclosure’ that are roughly the same length. As you would expect in a forest the habitat is unvaried but don’t see this as a negative. The ‘inclosure’ is also used by cyclists with a few steep inclines but it’s mainly flat. Wilverley Inclosure has a family barbecue area and a dog agility course near the car park too.

Find the full route details here.

Beaulieu Heath and Hatchet Pond (2.5 miles)

This interesting walk starts at Rans Wood car park and features earthworks, ancient barrows and Hatchet Pond. The route skirts Frame Wood, Little Wood, a tumulus, earthworks, and Cerdic’s Bridgehead before reaching Hatchet Pond. There are fewer punctuations on the way back to Ran’s Wood, and there are opportunities to see some wild ponies and get an ice cream from an ubiquitous ice cream van. This walk is pleasant if you prepare by wearing the right gear as the ground can be boggy along the way, but that's part of the fun of walking in the New Forest!

Find the full route details here.

Find out more about what Beaulieu has to offer with our Beaulieu guide and check out our Beaulieu cottages.

Dog walkers welcome

New Forest welcomes responsible dog owners and, as is the case with all rural places, there's a helpful countryside code with guidance to follow.

Stay safe and keep dogs under effective control

  • Wherever you are in the New Forest, you must ensure that your dog does not chase or attack livestock, deer or any other wildlife.
  • Keep your dog at heal at all times - if necessary use a lead
  • Keep your dog to the main tracks when birds are nesting on the ground (usually March-July)
  • Dogs must be under close control when on a public right of way
  • Be considerate to other forest users

A full list of useful rules can be read here.

As much of the National Park is made up of working forest, be sure to look out for signs and take heed to any instructions left by the loggers and the Forestry Commission.

The New Forest app

Available from the official New Forest visitor centre in Lyndhurst, this handy app for your iPhone or Android device gives you more ideas and tips for New Forest days out.

Alternatively, head to our selection of New Forest guides for a wealth of useful information.

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