Acres Down to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary round
The New Forest and its National Park is a wonderful and beautiful place situated in Hampshire 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.
Acres Down is a very pretty area between Minstead and Bolderwood and sits at the beginning of a traffic free cycle route. The cycle network routes used by walkers and horse riders are made up of well maintained forestry tracks which are easy to follow and are a fantastic way to explore the New Forest. There are many walking trails too where horse riding and in some cases cycling is not allowed. Acres Down Farm is a New Forest Commoners working farm and has a campsite and bed and breakfast accommodation. The farm which opens directly on to the 900 year old Royal Hunting Forest now known as the New Forest National Park keeps beef cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens. The farm has a shop and offers full English breakfasts to campers and from 1st April to 30th September cream teas are available all day. There is also bed and breakfast accommodation at Acres Down House which is just next door. The nearest village, just over a mile away, is Minstead which houses a village shop and tearoom and a pub the Trusty Servant and there are ample shops, pubs and eating places in nearby Lyndhurst, about 2½ miles away. Minstead village shop and tearoom is a meeting place for locals and visitors providing tourist information, excellent local produce and all the everyday things from groceries to household items plus arranges cycle hire, dry cleaning, shoe repairs and picture framing. Minstead’s All Saints Church, situated on the hill, is Grade I Listed and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a physician and creator of the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, is buried in the graveyard along with his second wife Jean.
The Canadian Memorial is a simple wooden roadside cross situated close to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary and is in memory to the World War II Canadian Forces who were present in the New Forest before the D-Day invasion on 6th June 1944. The cross was erected by the men of the 3rd Canadian Division RCASC on 14th April 1944.
Bolderwood is situated along the Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive, an old coaching route, which leads on to the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive. Bolderwood Sanctuary is a fantastic place for a family day out with free car park (although there is a donation box), toilets, tourist information cabin and a wooded area for picnics and barbeques. Bolderwood is one of the best places to see the deer and there is a purpose built viewing platform, overlooking a large meadow, just a short walk from the car park. The deer get fed every day throughout April and September and it is here that you will regularly find herds of Fallow Deer waiting for a Forestry Commission Ranger to come and feed them so if you time it right you can watch them being fed from the platform. There are several white deer which is an uncommon colour for Fallow Deer so don’t forget your camera the platform is ideal for getting some close up photo’s. There is some information panels telling you about the deer found in the New Forest. There are three sign posted circular walks all starting from the car park. The walks are ½ mile, 1 mile and 2 miles and they take you through Bolderwood’s Ancient and Ornamental Woodland consisting of some of the tallest trees within the New Forest. They are easy walks on tracks of compact gravel similar to the cycle network tracks. Adjacent to the car park is a large flat grassy forest lawn perfect for kicking a football around or for a game of rounder’s or cricket so Bolderwood is a great place to explore, walk, cycle, play or just relax. The New Forest isn’t just about ponies and deer there are also pigs and cattle of various breeds roaming freely in the forest. Pigs are let out to roam in large numbers during the autumn months to forage for acorns that have fallen from the oak trees which is known as pannage. The pigs clear the ground of thousands of acorns and this helps to stop the ponies eating large quantities of acorns that can seriously affect their digestion. If you see any foraging pigs please keep your distance as they can be very aggressive towards humans. It is known that they can decide to charge, chase or even bite people without warning.
We park in the Forestry Commission Acres Down car park and turn left through the barrier onto a cycle track. We head forward following the cycle track markers and bear round a sharp right hand bend. Keeping to the cycle track, passing any paths off to the left or right we go over a stream head forwards and follow the track bearing to the left. When we reach a tall dead tree and a gated track on our left we bear right and cross over the river. We head forwards round a sharp right hand bend and after a short way round a left hand bend. We now keep heading forwards until we meet the road. We turn left and the Canadian Memorial is on our left we then cross the road and continue forwards on the cycle track opposite, passing marker post 105 on the left. We keep to the track passing the Deer Sanctuary on our left until we come to a ford we turn left almost back on ourselves and continue on the cycle track the Deer Sanctuary still on our left. When the cycle track bears right we bear left on the footpath alongside the Deer Sanctuary. At the t-junction we turn left passing a pond on our right and follow the path through the trees to the viewing platform. We head forwards to a tarmac road turn left over a cattle grid and then right into the car park. After passing through the car park we cross the road and go through the gate opposite. We now head forwards and keep to the cycle track and when we reach a junction with cycle marker 145 we turn right and follow the track round to the left then right and then round to the left again then head forwards passing through a gate and bear left at marker 147. We cross the bridge over the river and when the track splits at marker 148 we turn left and follow the track until we come to the gate where we saw the tall dead tree we go through the gate, this is where we saw the pigs, and turn right onto the cycle track we started on and retrace our steps back to Acres Down.
This is an easy walk on forestry tracks with some slight inclines and declines.
Distance and Start Point
Approx 5.25 miles allow 2 hours using OS Explorer Map OL22, New Forest.
Start: Acres Down Forestry Commission free car park near Newtown, Minstead.
Directions and Parking
From Lyndhurst centre take the A337 (Romsey Road) heading towards Cadnam and take the left turn over a cattle grid sign posted Minstead. Near the Trusty Servant pub in Minstead turn left for Newtown. After passing Newtown and a road going off to the left take the left fork then cross straight over at the cross roads and follow the very small road to the Forestry Commission free car park near Acres Down campsite.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets, a tourist information cabin and picnic tables adjacent to the Bolderwood Forestry Commission free car park and Deer Sanctuary. There is also a small car parking area next to the Canadian Memorial. There are no refreshment facilities the nearest ones are at Minstead, Emery Down and Lyndhurst.