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Discover the best of the New Forest with a Cicerone Guidebook - Sample Route

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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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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We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our Feedback form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).


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

Sample Route

Langley Wood and Hamptworth
Start/finishSmall roadside lay-by (SU 219 203) on the Redlynch to Hamptworth road beside the River Blackwater, or the Cuckoo Inn (SU 243 196)
Distance8.5km (5¼ miles) or 8.9km (5½ miles)
Time2½hrs or 2¾hrs
MapsOS Explorer OL22 and 131
RefreshmentsCuckoo Inn, Hamptworth (01794 390302)

This fairly easy walk leads you through the peaceful woods on the northern edge of the New Forest National Park where it dips into Wiltshire. Along the way the walk passes through Langley Wood National Nature Reserve with its mix of broadleaved trees and varied wildlife, as well as visiting the little hamlet of Hamptworth with its picturesque, thatched Cuckoo Inn and duck pond. Unlike most of the national park, these woods are not open access, and the walk follows public rights of way throughout.

From the roadside lay-by, beside the bridge over the River Blackwater, cross over the road and go through a gap in the hedge to head south-west along a path signposted for Back Lane, following the hedge on the left. At the far end of the field cross a footbridge over the River Blackwater and keep ahead through the trees. The River Blackwater rises just east of Redlynch in Wiltshire and flows eastwards, mostly outside the national park, to join the River Test near Totton.

Cross a stile and head along the enclosed path to cross another stile. Go between the houses and turn left along the lane, soon passing a picturesque, red-brick thatched cottage (Redwings). Continue down the lane, passing another thatched cottage (The Old Dairy), and keep along the track. Ignore the path off to the left, and at the track junction keep straight on to reach a split beside a byway sign. Continue straight on along the left fork, following the rhododendron-lined track; marked on the map, though not visible from the walk, is Hamptworth Lodge over to the left. Keep ahead along the main track to join a surfaced lane at Home Farm (SU 234 192).

The present Hamptworth Lodge was rebuilt in 1910 in traditional Jacobean style, although the estate, which covers 3000 acres of woodland, dates back several centuries (limited public opening in the summer for guided tours; 01794 390700).

The pond and houses at Hamptworth

Continue straight on down the lane and just before the house on the left, turn left up the bank to follow a wide grassy path signposted to Elmtree Farm. Continue between the fence and hedge, later with trees to the right to reach a gate and path junction at the far side of the field. Do not go through the gate, but turn right down through the trees, ignoring a crossing tack to rejoin the lane. Turn left and at the junction beside the Wesleyan Chapel dated 1876 keep left (straight on), following Lyburn Road and soon passing Manor Farm to reach a T-junction (SU 244 196).

Have a look round the hamlet of Hamptworth. To the right is a small duck pond and thatched house and to the left is a small green with footpath map and the very picturesque 18th-century thatched Cuckoo Inn – in the past this has been the village school and village shop. The footpath map was placed here by the Redlynch Millennium Committee in association with the parish council and Salisbury College to celebrate the third millennium.

Cross over the road a few metres to the left and take the path opposite, passing through the hedge to a kissing gate and a footpath sign for Landford. Continue diagonally right across the field and just before the top right corner turn right through a large gate and then left for a few metres, to a signed path junction. Go left following the field edge on the left and turn right at the corner heading downhill.

In the trees, cross a bridge over the River Blackwater and continue up along the track for 500m, ignoring any routes to the left and right. Go through the large gate, keep ahead and follow the field edge on the right towards North Common Farm. At the field corner with two gates, turn right through the gate on the right into a field and then left following the field edge on the left to cross a stile in the corner. Turn left along the farm track, passing some farm buildings, and continue straight on through the large gate to follow a track down to a four-way track junction (SU 243 206).

Go straight on along the gravel track with a golf course on both sides. Ignore all crossing gravel paths and continue along a path down through the trees. Cross a stream via the footbridge and follow the narrow path through the trees, passing a sign for Langley Woods National Nature Reserve. Continue along the well-signed path, with trees to the right and golf course to the left, later following a sunken path gently uphill.

Woodland path through Langley Wood

Although Langley Woods National Nature Reserve now lies within the national park, it was originally part of the Royal Forest of Melchet until the 16th century. The reserve contains a mix of both pedunculate and sessile oak, along with small-leaved lime and hazel. It is under minimum intervention management, where the felling and planting of trees is avoided and dead wood is allowed to rot where it falls. The woodland supports many plants and animals, from wood anemone, wood spurge and bluebells to silver-washed fritillary butterflies, common lizards and dormice, as well as deer and three species of woodpecker.

Join a track and keep straight on to pass a kissing gate beside a large gate and continue along the lane. Where the lane bends left go right through a kissing gate to pass another sign for Langley Woods National Nature Reserve. Follow the track bounded by old earth banks to reach a marker post at a fork in the path (SU 232 206). These old medieval boundary banks were built to guide commoners’ stock when they were being moved between the open commons.

Here there is a choice of routes: to continue on the main walk or take the alternative, slightly longer route.

To continue with the main walk fork left and head down through the trees, passing on your left an area dominated by alders (they prefer the wet soils here). Cross the footbridge and start climbing through an area of sweet chestnut trees and past a stand of Corsican pine. Keep straight on at the crossing path and follow the path as it bears to the right through an area of coppiced small-leaved lime and hazel. Turn left at the T-junction (the alternative route joins from the right), and shortly afterwards go through a kissing gate to the parking area.

Alternative route

At SU 232 206 take the right fork (straight on) and follow the circular walk signs in a semi-circle, before heading south to rejoin the main walk not far from the parking area.

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