Top New Forest winter walks holiday cottages

Top New Forest winter walks

Kate Atkin 07 December 2017

Winter in the New Forest may be cold, but it can also be extremely beautiful. The frost makes the countryside sparkle, and ramblers can enjoy almost total solitude under clear blue skies. Walking trails guide you through woodlands transformed into bare frost-covered branches, past expanses of open heathland, the winter’s mist hanging above a thick carpet of heather, and across frozen streams and lakes studded with glittering icicles. Glimpse fallow deer tucked under the lee of a small valley, or deep in a tangle of gorse, and be the first to make tracks in the powdery snow.

There is simply nothing like wrapping up warm, embracing the elements, and enjoying a crisp winter’s walk in the beauty of the New Forest. With around 143 miles of walking trails winding their way through a variety of breathtaking landscapes, the possibilities in this National Park are endless. The Forestry Commission has also made it very easy by creating sign-posted gravel tracks along these winter walking trails, and with plenty of car parks along the routes, you can make your hike as long or short as you wish.

Whether you are looking for a gentle wander or a day-long ramble, pull on your walking boots and dig out your thermals with our top suggestions of the best winter walks in the New Forest for you to explore.

For more wonderful rambling trails and hiking routes to be enjoyed throughout the year, grab a cuppa and read through our full guide to the best walks in the New Forest. 

Wilverley Inclosure, duration: 1 hour 30 mins

Wilverley Inclosure

Taking you through the heart of one of the New Forest’s most attractive inclosures – areas that are fenced for timber growing, this round gravel path weaves its way beneath a canopy of snow-dusted conifers and broadleaves, and is one of the easiest trails to follow. If your canine companion is joining you, there is an agility course near the car park that is sure to set his tail wagging in delight. Keep your eyes peeled for deer quietly moving through the bracken and a plethora of other interesting wildlife as you brace the winter chill, and when you need to warm up, there is a tearoom located towards the end of the walk with hot drinks and snacks.

  • Distance: 2-mile circular route
  • Difficulty: ๐Ÿ•
  • Pub stops: There are no foodie stops along the trail (although the occasional ice cream van does show up!), but not to worry, as there's a tea room 2 miles away in Holmsley while Brockenhurst is just 3 miles away and offers numerous eateries and pubs. 
  • Where to stay: Laurel Bank, Sway | A luxury holiday cottage perfect for snuggling up during the winter season with family and canine companions as this escape welcomes up to three dogs along with four humans. 

Find the full route details here.

Laurel Bank

Fritham Walk, duration: 2 hours 30 mins

Fritham Walk

One of the most popular trails in the New Forest is the Fritham Walk where ramblers can look forward to exploring three different inclosures and the atmospheric open heath of Fritham Plain. It would be unusual not to encounter some grazing deer and wild ponies with steam billowing from their noses in the fresh winter air. The whole route is on paths which are less prone to muddy puddles, so you will be pleased to know you are less likely to need your wellies. Fritham is also home to the popular Royal Oak pub, which comes highly recommended as a destination to enjoy some post-walk refreshments and a warm drink; nothing beats a creamy hot chocolate or a cup of coffee after a regenerative winter walk.

  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Difficulty: ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•
  • Pub stops: The Royal Oak is less than 100 metres from the car park at the beginning and end of the trail. 
  • Where to stay: Rightman's Place, Linwood | A wonderful choice for a seasonal get-together with family and friends, this luxury New Forest property welcomes 11 guests and two canine companions. 

Find the full route details here.

Rightman's Place

Burley Walk, duration: 1 hour 30 mins

Burley Walk

Although called the New Forest, it is by no means all woods; a large proportion of it is on high heathland, allowing for spectacular panoramic blue-sky views. Listen to the satisfying crunch of frozen leaves as you pass by gorse bushes lit up with frost-covered spider webs and admire mesmerising views of both the New Forest heathland and wetland areas. The initial part of this walk runs alongside Burley golf course, one of several courses on the open forest, and a short section of the picturesque stroll takes you along a dismantled railway line where steam trains once roared through.

  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Difficulty: ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•
  • Pub stops: There are plenty of places where you can replace vital reserves in Burley; pop into the Queen's Head or Old Farmhouse Restaurant & Tea Rooms for a bite to eat. 
  • Where to stay: The Old Chemist, Burley | Warm and welcoming, this cosy cottage in charming Burley sleeps five guests and two dogs - ideal for a family retreat in the New Forest.

Find the full route details here.

The Old Chemist

Matley Walk, duration: 2 hours

Matley Walk

The New Forest is a wonderful mix of ancient and ornamental woodland, pine inclosures, large grassy areas, bogs and open heathland, and this scenic walk is fantastic as it encompasses all of these incredible habitats and terrain. The trail is located a few miles east of Lyndhurst along the road that leads to Beaulieu and starts at Matley campsite. It may be chilly, but this part of the New Forest boasts many rare and protected species of wildlife, and there are endless photo opportunities with dramatic winter sunsets, and if you’re lucky, a dusting of white snow on the trees.

  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Difficulty: ๐Ÿ•
  • Pub stops: Stylish pub, The Drift Inn, is just 1.5 miles down the road, while Lyndhurst is 2 miles away and bursting with places to eat. 
  • Where to stay: Holmfield House, Lyndhurst | Infused with an olde-world elegance, this cottage in the centre of pretty Lyndhurst offers a fantastic escape for eight guests. 

Find the full route details here.

Holmfield House

Whitefield Moor, duration: 2 hours

Whitefield Moor

During the winter months, Whitefield Moor in Brockenhurst transforms into a magical winter wonderland. There are two routes to choose from here; the ‘yellow route’ follows gravel tracks through a variety of habitats around Ober Water including heathland with gorse and bog, grassland, natural and formerly enclosed woodland, and the Ober Water stream itself. For more of a challenge, the ‘red route’ takes you further along Ober Water allowing more time to soak up the awe-inspiring scenery. You cannot miss the sheer beauty of these walks as the winter light penetrates through the trees to glisten with sparkling reflections off the frozen water in the stream. Whichever idyllic track you choose for your winter walk, you will also be rewarded with incredible views overlooking the New Forest, which are particularly overwhelming during sunrise or sunset when the skies are lit up in an array of vivid colours.

  • Distance: 1.6 miles
  • Difficulty: ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•
  • Pub stops: This walk is just 1 mile out of Brockenhurst so enjoy the trail then head back into the village for one of the pubs, restaurants and eateries to be enjoyed in the centre. 
  • Where to stay: Brookley Cottage, Brockenhurst | A quaint and quiet sanctuary for six guests in Brockenhurst, this five-star cottage is the perfect tranquil base to return to after a winter walk. 

Find the full route details here.

Brookley Cottage

Our top tips for winter walking:

  • Layer your clothing – during the winter it is advisable to wear at least three or more layers, so you can regulate your body temperature and remain comfortable. Although you may feel chilly in the first 15 minutes of your walk, you should warm up quickly as you get moving so try not to wear too many heavy jumpers.
  • Appropriate footwear – your feet are the most important thing when walking, so a good pair of walking boots, shoes or wellies is vital. You are likely to experience wet and boggy terrain during a winter walk in the New Forest, so you may prefer to choose a waterproof option, and don’t forget to wear in a new pair of boots before your journey to avoid any painful rubbing or blisters.
  • Pack supplies - add some comfort to your trip by taking tea, coffee, or hot chocolate with you in a thermos to warm you up. You might also find some snacks, a first aid kit, torch and a map useful if you’re walking in less inhabited areas.
  • Start early – the sun sets earlier in the winter months, so plan to start early to ensure you’re off the trail before it gets too dark as you could get lost.
  • Check the weather – it is essential to check the weather conditions before you set off. An unexpected shower or heavy snow could leave you feeling wet and cold.

If you need a warm and cosy place to relax after a long day of walking, why not stay in one of our homely New Forest cottages for winter?


The New Forest offers a delightful variety of terrain for walking all year so your hikes can take place on brisk wintery mornings or warm summer nights. Read our guide to walks in the New Forest and enjoy rambling across the county during winter, spring, summer or autumn.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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