The New Forest and its National Park is a wonderful and beautiful place situated in Hampshire down in Southern England. The New Forest National Park was created in March 2005 after six years of consultations. A national park authority was established in April 2005 and gained full statutory powers in April 2006. The park covers 140,000 acres and includes many existing Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and lies mainly in south-west Hampshire from east of the Avon Valley to Southampton Water and from the Solent coast to the edge of the Wiltshire Chalk Downs. The Forest is a living and working place with so many thatched cottages, hidden gems and secrets making it a haven for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and tourists. To enable you to enjoy the forest to its full potential is to leave the car and get out there and explore. There are many circular routes, which can be found in the tourist information places, with picnic areas and toilet facilities. There are also guided walks where experts will tell you about the forest, its history and wildlife etc. There is also the New Forest Tour which is an open top bus taking you on many routes round the forest and villages and you can hop on and off where ever you like. This is fun for everyone and ideal for people who cannot walk far or are disabled. The New Forest Museum and Visitors Centre in Lyndhurst is the best place for any information and advice. The main attraction of the New Forest is the wild ponies that roam free but are actually owned by New Forest Commoners. There are approximately 3,000 ponies and have lived here for about 2000 years. The foals are born in the spring and summer and they are a delight to see. In the summer and autumn each year Pony drifts are held so that the commoners can sell their stock and the job of tail clipping and veterinary checks can be done at the same time.
The New Forest River Restoration Project is a massive project to help restore the New Forest to create a better place for people and wildlife along its rivers. The New Forest National Park Authority, the lead partner for the project, are working with the Forestry Commission and Natural England to restore 2,700 hectares of the New Forest that has been damaged by past drainage activities in the 19th and 20th centuries. The New Forest is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the work started in April 2009 and will finish in March 2013.
Boldre is a village within the New Forest National Park about 2 miles north of Lymington. The village near the River Lymington houses a pub, the Red Lion dating back to around the 15th century, a church, a school called William Gilpin after the vicar of the church, and a post office. The Church of St John the Baptist dating back to the 11th century lies at the top of a hill one mile from the village centre. In the graveyard the oldest named tombstone is that of Edward Watts who died on May 12th 1698. There are twenty three war graves including those of fifteen Canadians stationed at Beaulieu Airfield during the Second World War. Inside the church there is a memorial to HMS Hood a battle cruiser sunk by the German battleship Bismarck on 24th May 1941. William Gilpin the vicar of Boldre from 1777 until he died in 1804 at the age of 80 is buried in the churchyard next to an old maple tree. Gilpin who lived at Vicars Hill was famed for his great knowledge about the New Forest and its flora and fauna. He was responsible for building a Poor House and school in the village. The school which still stands opened in 1791 costing £400 to build. It is now known as Gilpin’s Cottage. Gilpin was also an artist and the first president of the Watercolour Society.
Roydon Woods extending to an area covering almost 1,000 acres of ungrazed ancient woodland, fields and meadows rich in flowering plants which support insects and butterflies, open heathland covered in heather and gorse, ponds, many streams and part of the Lymington River is a wonderful place to explore. The woods alive with bird song and home to a wide range of wild flowers are a Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust nature reserve, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In the spring look for bluebells that carpet some of the woods, Brimstone butterflies, the arrival of migrants including chiff-chaff, blackcap and garden warbler. In the summer there are dragonflies and damselflies everywhere, many types of fritillary butterflies, soaring buzzards and nightjars churring on the heath on warm evenings. The woods provide nest sites for buzzards and sparrowhawks and all three British species of Woodpeckers. In the autumn there are over 900 species of Fungi and wonderful autumn colours to see and you may hear the groaning and whistling of rutting fallow and sika deer. Roe deer also live in these woods. In the winter look for flocks of fieldfare and redwings, mixed groups of tits and the deer in their grey winter coats. All year round deer, fox and badger tracks can be seen cutting through the vegetation and collections of feathers that betray sparrowhawk plucking posts. Public bridleways and a series of waymarked permissive footpaths provide access to much of the area while keeping disturbance to a minimum therefore maintaining the tranquillity visitors enjoy. Please keep dogs under control at all times and be aware that they are not allowed on part of the heathland in spring and early summer so as to avoid disturbing ground nesting birds and because cattle with calves are likely to be present.
The Lymington River is a small river of nearly 14 miles flowing through the New Forest. Its source starts north of Brockenhurst known as Highland Water which rises north of Ocknell Enclosure and flows for just over 6 miles to Bolderford Bridge where it meets Ober Water. From then on it is known as the Lymington River and flows for a further 7½ miles into the Solent at Lymington.
From the car park we go through the gate in the corner and follow the path until we reach a track (bridleway) at Haywards Farm. We turn left and follow the track ignoring the track on the right and keep heading forwards passing the track on the left. As we approach Dilton Farm we turn left and follow the footpath sign through the gate to the left of the farm. We head forwards cross over the stile and continue to follow the track (bridleway) at the other side of the farm. We soon go through a gate into Roydon Woods and keep following the track. When we reach the ford at the Lymington River we cross over using the bridge and head forwards. At the t-junction of tracks we turn left. The track becomes a narrow tarmac road and we keep heading forwards. We go straight over at the cross roads and keep heading forwards following the road into Boldre. At the t-junction with the Red Lion in front of us we turn left and follow the road crossing the bridge over the Lymington River then turn almost immediate left onto the narrow tarmac road. We follow the road ignoring the footpath sign on the left then as we go round the bend we turn right in front of The Plant Yard following the footpath sigh uphill on the track. At the top we turn left and follow the narrow road back to the church.
Elevation: approx lowest point 1.50m (4.92ft) approx highest point 41.10m (134.84ft) approx ascent 68.80m (225.72ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 4.5 miles allow 1¾ – 2 hours using OS Explorer Map OL22, New Forest. This walk is done anti-clockwise.
Start point: Boldre Church car park.
Boldre is north of Lymington in the New Forest, Hampshire.
Directions and Parking
At the merging of the M27 junction 1 and the A31 take the A31 to Cadnam then at the roundabout take the A337 through Lyndhurst to Brockenhurst. Stay on the A337 towards Lymington and after passing the Filly Inn continue for about third of a mile and turn left. Bear left at two junctions towards Sandy Down. At the cross roads go straight ahead for about half a mile the church is on the left. Bear left following sign for church car park.
Parking: Boldre Church free car park.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets the nearest ones are at Lymington and Brockenhurst. For refreshments there is the Red Lion at Boldre. There are three pubs nearby; the Hobler Inn and the Filly Inn on the A337 between Lymington and Brockenhurst and the Fleur De Lys at Pilley just to the west of Boldre. There are plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs in Brockenhurst and Lymington.