Situated in Southern England and covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire, the New Forest National Park is an area known for its ancient woodland, forest trails, unique landscape and native ponies.
The new forest area was initially proclaimed a royal forest by William the conqueror and later was declared a national park on 1 March 2005.
Forestry England also takes the responsibility of overseeing and preserving the wonderful heathland and ancient woodland that are home to various rare species of birds and animals.
1. How to Reach New Forest National Park
Located in the south of the UK, the New Forest National Park can be easily reached by train from the London Waterloo station. With just 8 stations in between and a 90-minute travel time, you are just a short distance away from your beautiful haven.
You can also visit the new forest from the comfort of your car or public transport like bus or ferry services that are frequently available from Southampton.
The nearest airports to the location are Southampton airport and Bournemouth airport.
2. Timing and Entry Fees
During the summer and spring seasons, the new forest national park is open daily from 10 am to 5.30 pm. During the winter and autumn, the time is 10 am to 4.30 pm or dusk, whichever is earlier.
You can check out the entry prices and annual passes from the official website before visiting the national park.
3. Reasons to Visit New Forest National Park
Nestled in the countryside, the region of the new forest feels like a whole new world just a few hours away from London.
With sunlight peeping through the canopy of the forest, you are sure to be transported into a world of picturesque heathland and trees that date back to the times of ancient history.
3.1. Forest Pony
Did I say forest pony? And do you need any further reason beyond this why to visit the national park? Indigenous to the new forest region, ponies here are popular for their strength and hardiness.
Even though they are owned by the new forest commoners, the ponies are free to roam about on their own. The commoners also look after the livestock, cattle, pigs and donkeys.
With over 5000 natives, you are sure to spot a pony dotting around the new forest national park. All thanks to the forest ponies and cows grazing there.
Now, if you want to know some specific locations to spot a forest pony, then here are some of the most recommended ones:
Hatchet pond in Beaulieu
Horseshoe Bottom and Beachern Woods in Brockenhurst
3.2. Walk Through the 40+ Routes in The New Forest National Park
Walking is the best way to discover the hidden beauty of a place. Enriched with diverse flora, fauna and fresh air, spending some time in the new forest national park with your family and friends is a wonderful way to reconnect with nature.
With 140 miles of established tracks and easy-to-follow paths, walking among the magnificent woodlands and dainty villages is quite convenient as well. You are even sure to spot some of the freely roaming deer, cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys and various species of birds.
If you ask for the best places to walk in the new forest, here are the top 3 regions to make your walking experience simpler:
Radnor Trail in Bolderwood is a magnificent place filled with chestnut and oak trees and ideal for picnics.
Keyhaven Marsh is a 3.5-mile trail that follows a beautiful path along the coast.
Avon Valley Walks, 34 miles long trail is a favourite of the visitors coming here. Here, you can stroll through the meadows and explore the incredible wildlife.
3.3. Cycle Through the Well-Marked Cycle Tracks
The cycle tracks in the new forest area are well-marked and easy to follow making the experience of cycling very smooth for visitors. With over 140 miles of approved cycling tracks, cyclists have multiple options to roam in the forest.
You can hire a bike and ride in the wild exploring the wonderfully preserved plants and trees, gardens, streams, and villages that will give you the feel of a whole new world.
You can hire one for a few hours, for a day, or even for a longer period at your convenience. Now, here are some of the top cycling routes for your hassle-free experience:
Sway and Setthorns Loop
Rhinefield ornamental woodland
Northern Forest Circular
3.4. Experience the Adventure of Camping
Camping and caravanning in the forest by the banks of the rivers is a great way to unwind and feel close to nature. The pristine beauty of the new forest with the rich wildlife makes it a special place for camping.
Wouldn’t it feel so exquisite to gaze at the sparkling stars at night and wonder about the mighty trees that are here for ages? But don’t forget to pack all your essentials and check out the new forest guidelines before stepping out for camping.
Also, make sure not to pollute the area while you’re visiting. Here are some campsites you can consider for your next adventurous expedition:
Denny Wood caravan park and campsite are located between Beaulieu and Lyndhurst.
Holmsley caravan park and campsite near Burley.
Aldridge hill caravan park and campsite is located near Brockenhurst.
Roundhill caravan park and campsite are located between Beaulieu and Brockenhurst.
Matley wood caravan park and campsite are located between Beaulieu and Lyndhurst.
Long beech caravan park and campsite located at Stoney Cross.
3.5. Horse Riding at the New Forest National Park
Horse riding is truly one of the must-have experiences in the New Forest National Park. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned rider, strolling through the wonderful woods on a saddleback is always a pleasant way to discover the diversity of the landscape.
You can even avail yourself of the horse-riding lessons that will uplift your overall riding experience by contacting any of the recommended stables. Some of them are:
Burley Villa School of Riding, New Milton
Bagnum Equestrian Centre, Ringwood
Brockenhurst Riding Stables, Brockenhurst
Eastmoors Riding School, St Leonards
3.6. Discover the Wildlife at New Forest National Park
New Forest is a special place for wildlife that has been living here for ages. There are mainly three kinds of habitats found in the new forest area – woodland, heathland and bog that support the unique mix of birds and animals living here.
The diverse wildlife found here includes deer, pigs and cattle, horses, reptiles, donkeys, foxes, rabbits and various types of birds.
Heaven for wildlife photographers, do not forget to click photos when you spot a deer grazing on the plants or cattle resting on their farm or a bird chirping merrily.
3.7. Try the Local Produce
The New Forest National Park is well endowed with a multitude of local businesses that employ native people and help them in generating high-quality local produce.
Apart from farming, these businesses also play a huge role in sustaining the livelihood of the local people of the new forest. Fresh from the farm, the locally sourced ingredients are sure to add that extra tinge of flavour to your taste buds.
3.8. Preservation of History and Wildlife
Visiting the New Forest is not only about relaxing and clicking photos. It’s also about the conservation of nature. Your visit to the forest can go a long way to help in preserving the animals and support the natives.
By shopping locally and eating at local eateries, you can generate income for the local people that help to sustain them and improve their livelihoods. Also, do not harm the animals in any way.
Apart from that, you can always check out the different donation and conservation programs at the new forest and help sustain the enigmatic landscape.
4. Final Note
If you have read till now, you must have realized how enchanting the new forest national park is. Watching the colourful birds and the grazing cattle, the wilderness in the forest is sure to make your visit a memorable one.
So, what’s holding you back? Pack your bags and get ready to be spellbound by the enigma of the new forest.