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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

  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Abbots Well and Fritham walk in the New Forest

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 hound can wander freely but remain in sight.

Situated in the north-west of the national park which is far more open, throughout this route you will hear birdsong and it would be unusual not to encounter some New Forest ponies. For the keen naturalist, there are so many aspects of the National Park to pique 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 and Fritham, before it skirts 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.

Where to stay:

Rightmans Place, New Forest

Rightmans Place – sleeps 11

Perfect for a large family or group of friends, this spacious property is set within 20 acres of beautiful grounds and is just 7.5 miles from the beginning of the walk.

Bolton's Bench and Lyndhurst stroll

  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Bolton's Bench and Lyndhurst stroll walk in the New Forest

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 route 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 trail that takes in all the elements that brought you to the New Forest in the first place.

Find the full route details here.

Where to stay:

Holmfield House, New Forest

Holmfield House – sleeps 7

This welcoming retreat is ideal for families, with a playroom to entertain children and a cosy wood burner to warm you up after your hike. It is only 300 yards from the start of the walk.

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

Millyford Bridge walk

  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Millyford Bridge walk in the New Forest

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.

Where to stay:

Clares Cottage, New Forest

Clares Cottage – sleeps 2

A romantic retreat for couples with a lovely little garden to enjoy a spot of al fresco dining after you’ve worked up an appetite on your stroll. It is just 1.5 miles from the start of the walk.

Wilverley Inclosure

  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Wilverley Inclosure walk in the New Forest

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.

Where to stay:

Brookley Cottage, New Forest

Brookley Cottage – sleeps 6

This large open-plan cottage offers an indulgent place to relax and unwind after exploring the forest, featuring a crackling wood burner surrounded by deep, comfortable sofas. It is only 3 miles from the start of the walk.

Beaulieu Heath and Hatchet Pond

  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Beaulieu Heath and Hatchet Pond walk in the New Forest

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 a 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.

Where to stay:

The Saddlery, New Forest

The Saddlery sleep 6

If you’ve still got the energy to burn after your trek, this charming cottage boasts lawned area where you could play a game of footie on the grass or dine alfresco. It is just 1.5 miles from the start of the walk.

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

Map of New Forest walks

This handy map gives you the starting points of all the circular New Forest walks mentioned above.

Dog walkers welcome

The 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. Our ‘Guide to New Forest activities for the whole family’ offers some great suggestions for an active holiday.

Plan your walking holiday in the New Forest

If you've decided the New Forest is the perfect holiday destination for you to stretch your legs, we have a host of hand-picked New Forest cottages with brilliant walks right on your doorstep. Check out our full collection of New Forest cottages to find your perfect place to stay.

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