Introduction to the New Forest

The New Forest is a delight to explore, whether wandering through historic villages or feeling at one with nature deep in an ancient wood listening to the sounds of nature.

Thanks to the fairly level terrain, mixed with a of myriad well-defined tracks and paths, the forest is bestowed with a wide range of family-friendly walks, while those seeking the quieter parts can explore the network of narrower paths over the open heath, through forested areas where careful map reading may be required.

River Avon from Castle Hill
The view from Castle Hill looking north-west over the River Avon.
Walking in the New Forest - Front Cover

Walking in the New Forest

30 Walks in the New Forest National Park


A guidebook to 30 walks of between 3 and 10 miles set throughout the New Forest National Park in Hampshire and Wiltshire. Routes explore ancient woodland, heather-clad heath and dramatic coastline, all within easy reach of Southampton, Bournemouth and Salisbury. Walks for all abilities, easily combined to create longer challenges.

More information

How large is the New Forest?

The New Forest National Park covers 570 square kilometres (220 square miles).

When is the best time to go to the New Forest?

Always make every effort to avoid disturbing the wildlife and keep dogs under close control, particularly between March and July when the forest is home to ground-nesting birds such as the curlew and snipe.

As for the weather, Summers in the forest tend to be dry; though this is also the time of year with the highest number of visitors. Spring heralds new life, with vivid greens on the trees, colourful displays of flowers and abundant birdsong. Late Summer sees the heather on the open heath turn to a carpet of purple, and cool Autumn nights herald a dramatic change, with the trees becoming clothed in spectacular shades of russet, gold and brown.

Winter months bring spells of rain that can make some parts of the forest rather wet underfoot, but a cold clear Winter’s day can be a magical experience.

What to do in the New Forest

The Cicerone Guide to the New Forest is full of suggestions with fantastic resources to plan your visit. You can view the list of walks at the bottom of this page, with details on each.

If you're interested in the history, geology and wildlife of the New Forest, Cicerone author Steve Davison has written a fantastic article below.

The New Forest Code

  • Be safe and plan ahead – follow any signs and aim to be out of the Forest by dusk
  • Close all gates behind you unless they have been fastened open
  • Do not pick or remove plants or flowers
  • Do not feed or disturb the common stock – ponies, cattle and donkeys; give them space and do not touch them
  • Take your litter home and do not light fires
  • Keep to the existing tracks in the Forest when the birds nest on the ground (1 March–31 July); at this time keep your dog close by you or you may be asked by a Forest Ranger or Keeper to put it on a lead
  • Keep below the Forest speed limit (40mph) and slow down when approaching walkers, riders or livestock
  • Do not park on the verges or in gateways; use one of the many car parks
  • Keep well away from any forestry work and obey the warning signs
Rockford Common
Heading north-east over Rockford Common

New Forest Walks

Listed below are the walks included in the Cicerone Guide, with basic information on each. Purchase the guide for fantastic, in-depth information on each route, including maps, alternative routes to extend/shorten your journey, visit local landmarks, include a pub visit on your walk & more!

Langley Wood and Hamptworth8.5km (5¼ miles)2½hr
Godshill and Castle Hill7.5km (4¾ miles)2¼hr
Hatchet Green and Woodgreen9.5km (5¾ miles)2¾hr
Bramshaw Telegraph and Eyeworth Pond10.5km (6½ miles)3hr
Bramshaw Church and Nomansland8km (5 miles)2¼hr
Abbots Well and Alderhill Inclosure8.5km (5¼ miles)2¼hr
Fritham and Cadman’s Pool10.5km (6½ miles)3hr 
Janesmoor Pond and the Rufus Stone9km (5½ miles)2½hr
High Corner Inn and Ogden’s Purlieu5km (3¼ miles)1½hr
10Appleslade Bottom to Rockford via Ibsley Common9.5km (6 miles)2¾hr
11Castle Piece and Linford Brook7.5km (4¾ miles)2¼hr
12Exploring Bolderwood5.5km (3½ miles)1½hr
13Minstead and Furzey Gardens8.5km (5¼ miles)2½hr
14Portuguese Fireplace and the Knightwood Oak9.5km (6 miles)2¾hr
15Bank and Gritnam9km (5½ miles)2½hr
16Ober Water and Blackwater Arboretum13km (8 miles)3½hr
17Holmsley Walk and Burley9.5km (6 miles)2¾hr
18Wilverley Inclosure and Castleman’s Corkscrew10.5km (6½ miles)3hr
19Lyndhurst and Bolton’s Bench11km (7 miles) 3¼hr
20Ashurst figure-of-eight9km (5½ miles)2½hr
21Beaulieu Road and Bishop’s Dyke9.5km (6 miles)2½hr
22King’s Hat, Dibden Bottom and the Beaulieu River10km (6¼ miles)2¾hr
23Stubby Copse Inclosure and Balmer Lawn8km (5 miles)2¼hr
24Brockenhurst and Dilton13.5km (8½ miles)3¾hr
25Hatchet Pond and Hawkhill Inclosure7.5km (4¾ miles)2hr
26Beaulieu River from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard7.5km (4¾ miles)2¼hr
27Setley Common and Boldre Church10.5km (6½ miles)3hr 
28Exploring the coastline from Lymington to Keyhaven15.5km (9¾ miles)4hr
29Milford on Sea and Hurst Castle6km (3¾ miles)1½hr 
30Lepe and Exbury9.5km (6 miles)2½hr 

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