The New Forest is anything but new. It was created by William the Conqueror in 1079 as a place where he could hunt deer and wild pigs – the so called ‘beasts of the chase’. Nowadays, the landscape’s use has change dramatically, largely thanks to the designation of the New Forest National Park in 2005.
The New Forest national park is also one of the largest remaining wildwoods in Western Europe, famous for its abundant wildlife and birds. Here, in 220 square miles, animals are free to roam and wander. There are over 3000 native ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs and deer around the forest.
Meadows, heathlands, woods and streams are teaming with life making it a paradise to explore. For those looking up close, you can spot newts, frogs, toads. Plus, 700 species of wildflowers and around 2,700 species of fungi to forage.
Here is our guide to the best walks in the New Forest National Park, from food trails and woodland rambles, to the 60-mile Solent Way.
Best walks in the New Forest
Denny Wood, Hampshire
An easy three-mile walk into the glorious and historic New Forest National Park. In autumn, listen out for herds of bellowing “belling” red and fallow deer stags as they start their annual rut.
- 4.7km/3 miles
- 1.5 hours
Solent Way, Hampshire
The Solent Way is a 60-mile coast path, which starts in Milford-on-Sea and ends in Emsworth Harbour, and a large part of the route goes through the national park. Discover a new side to the New Forest with this 10-mile section from Lymington to Beaulieu.
- 15.7km/9.7 miles
- 5 hours
Rhinefield and Vinney Ridge, Hampshire
Take a sensory stroll past towering redwoods and monumental firs in the New Forest National Park
- 4.8km/3 miles
- 1.5 hours
Explore the lesser-known paths, plains and with a walk in the north of the New Forest, before relaxing in a pleasant pub in a woodland hamlet.
- 11km/7 miles
- 3.5 hours
Beaulieu Food Trail, Hampshire
Explore the beautiful Hampshire village of Beaulieu before following the Beaulieu River south to the shipbuilding village of Bucklers Hard. The route is 2.2 miles each way, but your day out can be as long or short as you like. Route and Map.
Avon Valley Path, Hampshire/Wiltshire
The 34-mile Avon Valley Path runs north to south from the Cathedral city of Salisbury along the border of the New Forest National Park to Christchurch on the south coast. Walk a small section of this historic waymarked path, or take on the whole lot over several days. Route and map.
Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst, Hampshire
This 9-mile walk starts at Hollands Wood in Brockenhurst, winding through wildlife-rich forests to Beechen Lane in Lyndhurst. Look out for deer and ponies as you make your way north towards the ‘capital’ of the New Forest. Route and map.