Beaulieu River from Pig Bush Car Park round

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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 Beaulieu River formerly known as the River Exe is a small river flowing through the New Forest. It is 12 miles long of which the last 4 miles are tidal. It rises near Lyndhurst and flows east then south across the forest heaths to the village of Beaulieu, the river then becomes tidal, once driving a tide mill in the village. The tidal river then flows south east through the forest passing the village of Bucklers Hard before entering the sea at the Solent. The tidal river below Beaulieu is navigable to small craft. The last half a mile is separated from the Solent by a raised area of salt marsh known as Gull Island. The whole river, including its bed, is owned by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

Beaulieu, meaning ‘beautiful place’ in French, is an idyllic village ancient honey stoned village remaining largely unspoilt. Dating back to the 13th century the village was built around the Abbey founded in 1204 by Cistercian monks on land given by King John, who had a royal hunting lodge at Beaulieu. After the dissolution of the monasteries Beaulieu was passed into the ownership the present Montagu family ancestors. The Beaulieu Estate covers 9,000 acres of beautiful countryside. Beaulieu its self, a tiny village of outstanding natural beauty, offers something for the whole family such as the 16th century High Street where donkeys and New Forest ponies roam freely, the Palace House which is a Victorian manor and Lord Montagu’s home, Beaulieu Abbey and its stunning gardens, the lake, and scenic walks along the riverbank. Beaulieu is also home to the National Motor Museum, founded by Lord Montagu, where you can see over 280 stunning vehicles on display from the 30’s through to the 80’s to some rare motoring oddities. Bucklers Hard which is a short walk along the riverbank was once a big shipbuilding centre in the 18th century, building many wooden sailing ships, both merchant and navy. Warships for Nelson’s Navy were built here, three of which took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. The village has been beautifully preserved and is open to the public.

The Walk

We walk to the end of the car park and cross straight over the road onto the gravel track. We soon bear right into the trees and head forward and when we come to a t-junction just before a little wooden bridge we turn left. We head forward with the trees on our right. We pass a pond on our right and keep following the track until we come to gravel track that leads to Ferny Crofts. We turn left along the track to the road. We cross straight over the road and head towards Yew Tree Heath car park. At the end of the track with the car park on our left we head forward for about 30 yards then turn right heading towards the pylons in the distance. We soon come to a track and turn right and as we look to the right we can see the track as it makes it way into the trees. We keep following this track then at the trees we turn right and continue through a line of trees to the road. At the road we turn left cross over the bridge then at the entrance to Ipley Manor on the left we turn right into the trees. We head forward on the little path to the right of an oak tree and very soon the heathland is on our left and the trees are on our right. We soon cross a stream and keep heading forward with the trees on our right and when the path splits we take the left hand fork heading slightly right towards the right of a lone tree. At the tree we head straight forward at the crossroads of paths. We cross over another stream and head forward towards King’s Hat car park. At the car park we turn right along the track and cross over the bridge. We come out into the open and keep heading straight forward passing a pond on the left. The path becomes faint across the heathland but we keep heading forward towards the left hand one of two telegraph poles in the distance. When we meet a track bearing slightly right we cross straight over onto a little path to the left of a small pond. We follow the path and when we come to a gravel track we cross straight over onto a narrow path. The path weaves through the trees and when we come to a gravel track in front of Culverley Farm we turn left to the road. At the road with Culverley car park in front of us we turn right and follow the road back to Pig Bush car park.


This is an easy flat walk on grass and gravel footpaths/tracks which are faint at times and some tarmac road.

Elevation: approx lowest point 5m (16ft) approx highest point 28m (92ft) approx ascent 54m (186ft).

Distance and Start Point

Approx 5.2 miles allow 2 – 2½ hours using OS Explorer Map OL22, New Forest. This walk is done clockwise.

Start point: Pig Bush Car Park on the B3056 near Beaulieu.


Pig Bush Car Park is south east of Lyndhurst near to Beaulieu in the New Forest, Hampshire.

Directions and Parking

From Lyndhurst take the High Street (A35) eastwards towards Southampton then after passing the La Table de Saint Tropez turn right turn onto the B3056 opposite the Fire Station towards Beaulieu. After crossing the railway line Pig Bush car park is the first car park on the right there is also Culverley car park a little further on.

Parking: Pig Bush Car Park or Culverley Car Park. Both are free parking.

Toilets and Refreshments

There are no public toilets or refreshments en-route. The nearest facilities are in Beaulieu which has public toilets, three pubs/restaurants, a tearoom and a cafe. There are many more shops, pubs and cafes at Lyndhurst.

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