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Discover the best of the New Forest with a Cicerone Guidebook - Introduction

Cover of Walking in the New Forest
5 Jul 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
1st Published
17 Apr 2012
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Walking in the New Forest

30 Walks in the New Forest National Park

by Steve Davison
Book published by Cicerone Press

A guidebook to 30 day 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 make up longer challenges.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
Weight: 250g

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Thanks to William the Conqueror, who set it aside as a royal hunting ground in 1079, the New Forest has been protected by ancient laws for over 900 years. Situated in Hampshire on the south coast of England, it was given National Park status in 2005, helping to further conserve its captivating landscape.

It is Britain’s smallest national park but offers a wide range of terrain to suit the taste of every walker - ancient woodland, empty heather-clad heath, captivating coastline and many streams and rivers.

The 30 walks in this guidebook use well-defined tracks and paths to visit interesting historic sites, colourful gardens and picture-postcard villages. They cover all areas of the New Forest National Park and can be shortened or lengthened to suit walkers of all abilities.

  • 30 walks from 3 to 10 miles, suitable for all the family
  • alternatives, shortcuts and detours are given, while many adjacent routes can be joined for full-day walks
  • clear route descriptions with detailed 1:25,000 OS map extracts and colour photographs
  • Seasons
    any time of the year; spring brings new life into the forest, summers are mild and the ground is usually dry although this is peak tourist season, autumn brings vivid displays of colour and good clear days, winter has shorter days with the least number of visitors, but some routes can become wet underfoot
  • Centres
    Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst, Lymington, Ringwood, Fordingbridge
  • Difficulty
    walks between 3 and 10 miles; terrain fairly flat; paths range from good gravel tracks to narrow paths over open heath; some stream crossings without bridges, though these should not pose any difficulties unless there has been heavy rainfall; navigation straightforward with care sometimes required on indistinct paths over open heath, or through woods
  • Must See
    walks in forests, ancient and ornamental woods, open heaths, rivers and coastal stretches; historic churches and ancient sites; New Forest ponies to deer, birds, plants and all six native reptiles; the largest remaining area of lowland heath in Europe
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Plants and wildlife
History of the New Forest
Walking in the New Forest
Using the guide
Getting to the New Forest
Getting around the New Forest
Food and drink
Where to stay
Countryside Codes
Access and rights of way
The New Forest online
Longer walks and long-distance routes
The Walks
Walk 1 Langley Wood and Hamptworth
Walk 2 Godshill and Castle Hill
Walk 3 Hatchet Green and Woodgreen
Walk 4 Bramshaw Telegraph and Eyeworth Pond
Walk 5 Bramshaw Church and Nomansland
Walk 6 Abbots Well and Alderhill Inclosure
Walk 7 Fritham and Cadman’s Pool
Walk 8 Janesmoor Pond and the Rufus Stone
Walk 9 High Corner Inn and Ogden’s Purlieu
Walk 10 Appleslade Bottom to Rockford via Ibsley Common
Walk 11 Castle Piece and Linford Brook
Walk 12 Exploring Bolderwood
Walk 13 Minstead and Furzey Gardens
Walk 14 Portuguese Fireplace and the Knightwood Oak
Walk 15 Bank and Gritnam
Walk 16 Ober Water and Blackwater Arboretum
Walk 17 Holmsley Walk and Burley
Walk 18 Wilverley Inclosure and Castleman’s Corkscrew
Walk 19 Lyndhurst and Bolton’s Bench
Walk 20 Ashurst figure-of-eight
Walk 21 Beaulieu Road and Bishop’s Dyke
Walk 22 King’s Hat, Dibden Bottom and the Beaulieu River
Walk 23 Stubby Copse Inclosure and Balmer Lawn
Walk 24 Brockenhurst and Dilton
Walk 25 Hatchet Pond and Hawkhill Inclosure
Walk 26 Beaulieu River from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard
Walk 27 Setley Common and Boldre Church
Walk 28 Exploring the coastline from Lymington to Keyhaven
Walk 29 Milford on Sea and Hurst Castle
Walk 30 Lepe and Exbury
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contact information
Appendix C Glossary
Appendix D Bibliography


The New Forest, or the Nova Foresta as it was known in the Domesday Book, is a unique and captivating landscape of open heath and ancient woodland tucked into south-west Hampshire and south-east Wiltshire. ‘Created’ by William the Conqueror in 1079 as a royal hunting ground, the New Forest has, for the last 900 years, owed its very existence to the influence of man and his animals.

New Forest National Park sign near Rockford (Walk 10); these are placed where roads enter the New Forest National Park

To many, a key feature of the New Forest’s natural beauty is the ancient and ornamental woods, and here can be found the greatest concentration of ‘veteran’ trees in western Europe. However, there is much more on offer, including 42km (26 miles) of coastline, the largest area of lowland heath in Britain and three-quarters of the valley mires in north-west Europe, as well as picture-postcard thatched cottages, ancient churches and cosy pubs. And all this located within Britain’s smallest national park, covering just 570 square kilometres (220 square miles).

The New Forest may not be a very hilly landscape and there are no sweeping mountain views, but a walk in the Forest takes you into a part of Southern Britain that William the Conqueror would probably still recognise. Couple that with the fleeting glimpses of wildlife – a deer suddenly stops to look before magically disappearing in the blink of an eye, birdsong mingles with the rustle of the wind in the trees, wildflowers add splashes of colour to the beauty of the enchanting woods, the commoners’ stock grazes the land as it has done for centuries – and you have all the ingredients that make walking in the New Forest National Park such a unique and rewarding experience.

However, this is not some woodland theme park; the Forest is a working environment. Around 7000 commoners’ animals graze the open forest, one quarter of the park is farmland and the forests still produce many tonnes of timber per year. Remember, it is these very activities that have helped to preserve the New Forest over the centuries.

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