Walks in New Forest National Park
Expect to meander some paths lined by secluded woodland, but New Forest NP is mainly known for its misty landscape where heathland scenery will have you feeling you've fallen into the pages of a storybook set in simpler times sometimes in the past. This park was first used in 1079, after all! The wide-open landscape is fantastic for wildlife seekers—marvel at deer roaming the land, rare birds soaring above, while the wild ponies add a fairytale layer to the New Forest's folklore scenery. Oh, and you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that this national park boasts 40.0 mi of remote coastline that not many people know about, so whenever you get bored of the heathland, head to the coast for some walking adventures.
One of the best ways to immerse and experience this park's wonders is to explore it on foot! Read on to find some of the best walks in New Forest National Park.
10 Stunning Walks in New Forest National Park
One of the best things about walks in New Forest National Park is the variety of adventures offered, ranging from paths tailored for families, those seeking longer distances or wildlife, dog owners, anyone wanting history and heritage style explorations, designated footpaths for wheelchairs, and whoever wants to bask in the swirling salt-scented sea air. New Forest National Park may not seem like it boasts a lot of variety. Still, the quirky villages and towns sprinkled across the park, woodland sections, the heathland, the coastline, the wildlife collide to create unexpected beauty.
The ever-so relaxing Hatchet Pond Circular Walk is a popular one for families and anyone seeking an easy-going walk along the largest body of freshwater in New Forest NP. Walk through grassland and keep an eye out for wild ponies and white swans. The paths can be boggy, so keep this in mind!
While we’ve mentioned that New Forest NP is more heathland than forest, the Bolderwood Circular Walk immerses you in a charming forest setting. Meander through oak, sweet chestnut, and beech trees and cross rivers on this short 2.7km family-friendly walk. This walk is a fun, accessible walk that’s great for everyone!
Swap typical New Forest NP scenery for coastal views on the 9km Calshot Beach Walk. Not only will you enjoy a relaxing walk along the beach, but you’ll get a chance to discover the history etched into the Calshot Castle. Keep an eye out for wildlife during the marsh portion of this walk! And come prepared for a dip in the sea if the weather is warm enough.
Starting from Brockenhurst on the south of the park, the Wilverley Inclosure walk winds through dense woodland while taking you over some undulations that may get your heart rate up! When you’re walking through the Wilverley Plain, look out for wild ponies, deer, and cattle. This walk is a fun one for walkers and cyclists alike.
Circumnavigate the quaint village of Brockenhurst while also revelling in quintessential New Forest NP scenery on the 8.4km Brockenhurst Village Walk. When you’re in the grassy plains, look out for ponies, donkeys, and pigs grazing the land.
The 9.5km Emery Down Circular Walk packs a punch when it comes to varied scenery: wood, meadows, streams, and of course, the village of Emery Down. Plus, the elevation gain isn’t too intense, but it’s enough to make this walk feel rewarding. En route, you’ll pass by the New Forest Reptile Centre, making this a fun stop for anyone into reptiles.
Looking for a longer walking adventure? The 15.7km Solent Way Walk is a great choice for those who want to spend more hours in nature but don’t want a super intense elevation gain. This walk covers just one section of the long-distance Solent Way: Lymington to Beaulieu. This is a one-way walk, requiring you to organize transportation from the endpoint back to where you started, but it’s well worth the journey.
The Lyndhurst Circular Walk begins and ends from Bolton’s Bench, a hillock where legend states that a knight and a dragon died during battle. Revel in lovely New Forest NP scenery on the rest of the walk: explore grassy plains, a stretch in the woods, and cross rivers!
Immerse in one of the prettiest sections of woodland in all of New Forest NP as you wind along well-built paths. Keep an eye out for wild deer, woodpeckers, and butterflies. Another great thing about this walk is the wildflowers sprinkled throughout!
Stroll through one of the biggest unenclosed pastures left in this area of England on the family-friendly Acres Down Woodland Walk. This accessible path is great for anyone looking to bask in nature with the potential of encountering some wildlife roaming the area.
Scroll down to find even more walks in New Forest National Park.
When Is The Best Time To Walk in New Forest National Park?
The best time to walk in New Forest National Park depends on which walk you want to do! Some walks may be boggier during wetter months, while others make for fantastic year-round walking options. For warm and dry weather, head here between June and August!
Best Regions for Walking in New Forest National Park?
Kick-off your time in New Forest National Park by staying in Brockenhurst, where you’ll find several walks leading out from the village. To top it off, this is the best town to go to if you’re travelling via train or bus!
Other Outdoor Activities in New Forest National Park
Other popular outdoor activities in New Forest National Park are cycling and horseback riding! You’ll find a mixture of long-distance and family-friendly cycling routes crisscrossing throughout the park. Whereas horse riders will enjoy travelling across heathland or coastal tracks as they revel in picturesque views. An excellent adventure spot to consider checking out for water-related sports is the Calshot Activities Centre.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I park in New Forest National Park?
Please park in designated car parks only! To prevent damage, it’s advised to avoid parking on verges and in gateways.
Can I camp in New Forest National Park?
A great campsite to consider is Long Meadow Campsite, conveniently located in the park's heart. It is illegal to wild camp in the New Forest!
Where can I see the wild ponies in New Forest National Park?
Head to Beachern Wood, located near Brockenhurst, for a chance to spot wild ponies roaming the New Forest.
Find more walking regions
- Lake District Walks
- Peak District Walks
- South Downs Walks
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Walks
- Chiltern Hills Walks
- Snowdonia Walks
Or use this link to find all walking regions in the UK.
Best Hikes in New Forest National Park
Calshot Beach Walk
When you want a change from the woods of New Forest, head down to Calshot Beach for a lovely coastal walk. Head east along the beach, and explore the fascinating history of the Calshot Castle, which guards the entrance to Southampton. Walk north among the rich marshes home to plenty of wildlife, then return along the coast. Don’t be afraid to stop for a swim if the weather is pleasant! There’s plenty of opportunities to customize your day on Calshot Beach and enjoy some time by the sea.
Hatchet Pond Circular Walk
A beautiful place to get some fresh air, Hatchet Pond attracts walkers, joggers, bikers, families, and day-trippers who want to enjoy the lovely scenery along the New Forest’s largest body of freshwater. The easy and mostly flat circular route takes you on footpaths through grassland and back along the north shore of Hatchet Pond, with opportunities for you to spot wild ponies and gorgeous white swans. Note the paths can be boggy, so be sure to wear good shoes!
Bolderwood Circular Walk
There are few New Forest routes as charming as the Bolderwood Circular Walk. With a variety of well-signed paths that lead through an impressive stretch of forest, it’s the perfect outing for outdoor lovers of all ages. Enjoy a stroll through the beech, oak, and sweet chestnut trees, crossing over rivers and exploring the woods. Don’t miss the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, where whole herds of fallow deer mingle and wait for feedings from the local keeper! This is a very accessible walk that everyone can enjoy
Lyndhurst Circular Walk
The Lyndhurst Circular Walk begins and ends at one of Lyndhurst’s most notable landmarks, Bolton’s Bench, a lovely knoll where legend has it a brave knight and a fearsome dragon perished during battle. From here the trail takes you through the grassy plains where ponies graze, along lovely footpaths in the woods, across rivers and past a golf course. Along the way you’ll get to enjoy some interesting sights and the great scenery the New Forest is renowned for.
Brockenhurst Village Walk
Located in the heart of the New Forest, Brockenhurst is blessed with lots of natural beauty and scenic spots, including wide open grassy plains where ponies, pigs and donkeys nibble and graze. Follow the circular Brockenhurst Village Walk route to explore this charming town and head off on paths along the rivers, bridges, water splashes and woodlands that surround it. The Brockenhurst Village Walk is the perfect day trip that combines a foray into the quaint village of Brockenhurst and the famed landscapes of the New Forest.
Blackwater Arboretum Circular Walk
The Blackwater Arboretum Circular Walk is a short and easy forest stroll suitable for New Forest visitors of all ages and abilities, including kids and pets. With just over 1.0 km to walk, it’s a nice little outing through a curated collection of trees from all over the world, including some of the oldest fir trees in the UK and a pair of impressive giant redwoods. You’ll also spot some notable wood carvings of giant acorns and pine cones that dot the trail. The Blackwater Arboretum Circular Walk is popular with horseback riders, though you also have a good chance to spot wild New Forest ponies.
Wilverley Inclosure Walk
The Wilverley Inclosure, located in Brockenhurst around the southern side of New Forest National Park, offers an accessible and enjoyable path that walkers and bikers of all ages can enjoy. The route starts and ends at the Wilverley Inclosure Car Park and winds its way through mature trees and dense woods with just a handful of steeper hills and inclines. Visitors are sure to like the impressive views of towering forests and young woodlands that line the path, plus a few scenic rest spots and benches. At the flat open spaces of the Wilverley Plain, it’s common to catch sight of wild ponies, cattle, and deer.
Knightwood Oak Walk
A visit to the Knightwood Oak is a short but sweet walk that makes for a great addition to a day in the woods. This monumental tree is known as the “Queen of the Forest,” and for a good reason: it's quite a sight as the largest in New Forest! A straightforward gravel path leads to, from, and around the tree, making this walk suitable for outdoor lovers of all ages and abilities.
Lymington Circular Walk
The Lymington Circular Walk is a lovely circular route from the historic port town of Lymington along the coastline of the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve, a hub for migratory birds and other wildlife. With a well-maintained path and a variety of landscapes, including marinas, rivers and marshes, it’s a great walk that’s best combined with a visit to one of Lymington’s charming pubs afterwards. The Lymington Circular Walk is mostly flat, making it suitable for walkers of all ages and abilities, including four-legged friends.
Acres Down Walk
Walk through Acres Down in New Forest and explore the beautiful surroundings. Meet some of the wildlife that roam this area or some horses that have come to walk the path. Wander through one of the largest unenclosed pasture lands left in this part of England.
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