The New Forest is my local National Park, and as such one that I pop to most frequently. Famous for its ponies and beautiful vistas, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walks. Heathland, forest, streams and beaches. Wherever you choose to head, you’re in for a treat. These are some of my favourite forest walks, all differing lengths and all beautiful.
The Rufus Stone - 1.5 Miles
The Rufus Stone is one of the most famous historical spots in the New Forest. Located only 1.5miles from the M27, a 3 sided pillar stands in a grassy area paying tribute to King William II. The King was out hunting in the forest in August 1100 and was hit and killed by a stray arrow fired by Sir Walter Tyrrell. Did it bounce off the nearby oak tree? Was it fired intentionally at the king? Nobody knows!
There’s a car park located right opposite the Rufus Stone, which is where this walk starts. From the car park, you head in to the trees at a right angle to the road, past the cottage access. You will reach a ford which, based on the time of year you head there, you may be able to simply jump across!
You’ll come to a fork in the road, take the left fork and it will take you to a clearing near Grey’s Farm. From here, head left across the green and you come to a gravel path past the actual farm, you will reach a small cottage and turn left, before joining a bridleway at ‘Woodpeckers’.
If you follow this through the woods, you come to another bridleway signpost and a proper lane. Follow the lane as far as the T Junction and then turn left, following the road past the Sir Walter Tyrrell Inn
There’s a rumour that Sir Walter Tyrrell had his horse reshoed (backwards) to confuse those chasing him. Again, who knows how true that is!
From the Inn, you can continue following the road until you reach the car park again. It’s a very short walk of around 1.5 miles, very flat, and should take about an hour max, unless you stop in the pub for lunch!
A monument was erected on the spot where King William II died, and it remains today, although now encased due to damage.
Brockenhurst Loop – 8 Miles
If you follow this route it starts at the car park in Brockenhurst.
You head left and out towards the train station, across the railway lines and then veer off to the road on the left, towards the signs for St Nicholas Parish Church (the oldest in the New Forest. A church has been here since 1086).
Follow the road round to the right until you come across a bridleway on the left, heading along a hedge and through Brockenhurst Park. You follow this path down through Roydon Woods and along the bridleway.
If you head here in Spring, the woods are full of bluebells. You head past The Lodge and continue following the bridleway to the left until you reach the bridge over the Lymington River. Continue straight and follow the footpath signposted ‘Dilton’
Follow the path until you reach Dilton Farm, then turn left before the farm buildings to follow the footpath along a hedge lined track. Eventually, the path hits tarmac, turn right along the edge of the heath at Round Hill and follow the tarmac round to Round Hill Campsite, past the pond and down the main exit road from the site.
Once you reach the road junction, head over the road and follow the (very obvious) gravel driveway signposted ‘New Copse Cottage’. Continue along the drive to New Copse Cottage and pass through the gate, up the slope and over the railway bridge. After about 140m you reach a junction, head left and continue on the gravel track through the forest (but watch out for cyclists!) until you reach Standing Hat Car Park.
Turn left and follow the path downhill across Balmer Lawn and then down in to Brockenhurst Town Centre once more.
Buckler’s Hard to Beaulieu – 4.5 miles (round trip)
Bucklers Hard is a beautiful old shipbuilding village on the Beaulieu River. Quiet, serene, idyllic.
A number of famous royal navy ships were built here in the 18th century. Notably, the Agamemnon, captained by Horatio Nelson for around 3 years. She is known for being Nelson’s ‘favourite ship’ and saw service in the Battle of Trafalgar.
If history is your thing, there’s a great little museum here as well. However, if you just want some beautiful views, it has you covered.
Heading out of the museum you wander down past the old workers cottages.
Closer to the water’s edge, you can see the remains of the ship launches/docks. You turn left and head down to the signposted route to Beaulieu.
You can’t miss the trail, it’s signposted for the entire length and you can either take the riverside walk, past the marina and Baileys Hard or walk through the forest on the gravel cycle path. The riverside walk is not suitable for bikes, pushchairs or wheelchairs, but you can enjoy the woodland scenery on the gravel path. If you walk the riverside route, be aware that if it’s rained, it can be somewhat muddy and when there’s a high tide, sometimes the path has a very shallow layer of water over it (for about 10 metres).
The path eventually comes out right in the centre of Beaulieu, a beautiful little village with some lovely shops and cafes, even a vintage car showroom if that’s your thing. Or you could go and look around the famous Beaulieu motor museum. To return to Buckler’s Hard, you head back along the same path. Of course this route can be done in reverse if you’re based in Beaulieu, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s my go-to New Forest walk.
The most famous of the New Forest’s beaches for more than one reason. It affords stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, it backs on to beautiful forests and it’s home to some of the most important WWII history on the south coast.
Thousands of troops along with their equipment and supplies left Lepe Beach as part of Operation Overlord, sailing to Normandy for the D-Day Landings.
If you walk one way along the beach, in the direction of Portsmouth (you can even see the Spinnaker Tower from here), you can still see where the ‘Mulberry Harbours’ were constructed and launched.
If you walk the other way, along the seafront towards the cottages you come to another beautiful stretch of beach to wander.
This isn’t a set directed walk, but if you’re in the New Forest, I urge you to visit Lepe as it is simply beautiful. It’s also shallow enough for a paddle or a swim if you’re feeling brave!
And if those photo’s and walks haven’t sold The new Forest to you, don’t forget the locals are always very welcoming!
Kate blogs over at Adventures of Kate and is an award winning outdoor and adventure blogger with an insatiable desire to be in the mountains or near the sea.