The ancient landscape of the New Forest is a magical place. Untouched woodlands, heathlands and wild ponies are amongst the many things that make this national park so unique. Whether you explore on foot, by bike, or on horseback, you are sure to have a memorable experience.
The woodlands are truly captivating with a fairytale feel of romance and intrigue. Their age defies the ‘New Forest’ name, coined by William the Conqueror in 1079. He called the area his ‘new hunting forest’ and established a system to protect and manage the woodlands which is still in use today.
There are many spectacular trees to be found here and some are centuries old such as the 500 year old Knightwood Oak. This aptly named ‘Queen of the New Forest’ can be found a couple of miles from Lyndhurst on the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive, which is also home to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. Whatever the time of year, but especially in autumn, the woodlands, spanning 193,000 acres, are brimming with beauty.
There are plenty of family friendly ways to explore and learn about the New Forest, such as Longdown Activity Farm where children can get up close to the animals. Marwell Zoo is also loved by little ones thanks to its impressive range of exotic and endangered species.
For something a little different try the New Forest Deer Safari, a 30 minute tractor and trailer ride in Burley Park to see the red deer. There are also wildlife parks, nature reserves and a reptile centre too.
Museums and attractions abound in the New Forest. Visit the Beaulieu National Motor Museum or the St Barbe Museum and Gallery to learn more about the local area. For some real naval history head to Bucklers Hard, where Nelson’s ships were built.
Walking is probably the best way to explore the New Forest, ambling through atmospheric woodlands or along its tranquil 40-mile coast. There are spectacular views of the Isle of Wight plus much wildlife to see if you’re lucky.
Every stretch of coastline tells its own tale, from smuggling to long lost industry. There are beautiful seaside villages too such as Barton On Sea and Lymington. Lepe is also a popular destination thanks to its pine fringed cliffs and beach, as well as historic D-Day remains.
The magical ambience of the New Forest is nowhere better felt than in Burley. This quaint little village has connections to witchcraft and trades on its reputation with lots of quirky and interesting shops selling everything from broomsticks to spellbooks. It’s worth visiting, if not for the magic then for the old world charm and free roaming ponies and cattle.