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.
Lyndhurst is a compact village and known as the capital of the New Forest since William the Conqueror established it as a royal hunting ground in 1079. It is a popular tourist location with many shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, hotels, guest houses and B&B’s. The village also houses the Queen’s House, the New Forest Centre with a museum, gift shop, tourist information office and reference library. The Church of St. Michael and All Angels is a major landmark along with Bolton’s Bench. Lyndhurst has been visited by kings and queens staying at the Royal Manor, or the Queen’s House, throughout the centuries and is the most important building in Lyndhurst owned by the Crown in the New Forest. The Queen’s House which has also been called the King’s House, for the name changes according to the gender of the monarch, is home of the ancient Verderers’ Hall, the meeting place of the Verderers’ Court that dates back to the 13th century. The verderers’ are the guardians of the commoners and their Rights of Common within the UK. It is also home to the local headquarters of the Forestry Commission. The New Forest Centre is situated in the main car park and at the opposite end there is the Lyndhurst Community Centre offering refreshments on Saturday mornings and is where a wide range of events and activities takes place all year round such as antique auctions, craft fairs, book fairs, farmers markets and much more. The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, designed by William White, situated on a mound overlooking the village is the third church to be built on the site. It was built with red brick with yellow trim in the 1860’s and has a 49 metre brick-banded spire. The interior is of yellow, white and red exposed brickwork and the nave roof is decorated with life-size supporting angels. Alice Hargreaves nee Liddell, who was the inspiration for Alice in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, lived in and around Lyndhurst after her marriage to Reginald Hargreaves who is buried in the graveyard. Bolton’s Bench is a yew-capped hillock situated at the end of High Street on the outskirts of Lyndhurst. It is a natural knoll and not an enormous pre-historic burial ground. Bolton’s Bench was named after an 18th century Duke of Bolton called Lord Warden of the New Forest whose family were Master Keepers of Burley Bailiwick. Lyndhurst cemetery and chapel close to Bolton’s Bench was opened in the mid 1880’s when the parish church graveyard became full it is very well kept and the surrounding area of grassland is kept short by the commoners stock of ponies, donkeys and cattle making it a great place for a game of football or cricket or a family picnic. To the east of Bolton’s Bench and the cemetery is the wide open landscape of heath land, wetland and woods known as White Moor.
The New Forest Reptile Centre, only a few miles west of Lyndhurst, is open right through the spring and summer until the end of September and entry is free. It is the only conservation centre that has a collection of all of Britain’s native lizards including the rare sand lizard, grass snakes, smooth snakes, Britain’s only venomous snake the adder, frogs and toads, newts and slow worms. The reptiles living in their natural environment are displayed in separate specially created open air netted enclosures. The best time to see most of the reptiles is on a warm sunny day when they will be basking in the sunshine to warm their blood. In addition to the reptiles and amphibians, the centre is home to “A Date with Nature in the New Forest” where you can view birds of prey on nest cams and watch live woodpeckers, nuthatches and various other birds feeding on the nuts. There is also a picnic area with benches and tables and a 1½ mile walk named The Reptile Trail. This is a very interesting place and makes a great day out for all the family of all generations.
We turn left out of the car park then at the traffic lights we turn right. At the Gales Green sign we turn diagonally left along the back road. At the next road we turn left past the Glasshouse Restaurant and the Waterloo Arms and keep following the road. The road bears left after crossing over a cattle grid and we continue following the road to a t-junction on a sharp left hand bend. We bear left round the bend then immediate left at the bridleway sign onto a gravel track towards the buildings with the sign, Stable End. We follow the track, which becomes a tarmac track, until we come to a small road at Emery Down. We keep heading forwards past the telephone box and the church. When we reach the New Forest Inn we turn left signposted Bolderwood 3 miles. We continue along the road past James Hill car park until we reach White Moor car park. We turn left into the car park and follow the track going through a barrier. We head forwards through the trees to a clearing and keep heading forwards following the tree line on our right. When the tree line bears left we head forwards into the trees and follow the path, bit boggy in places, crossing the becks until we come to some farm buildings. We head forwards and turn right to cross in front of the farm house onto a track. We make our way through the gate into the Reptile Centre (well worth a look around and also to relax with a sandwich and a cup of tea). We leave the centre through the gate where we came in and follow the track until we see the number 15 on a post on our right we turn left and cross over the bridge. We now head forwards passing through a small clearing. When the path splits we keep right heading forwards slightly uphill. At the brow the path splits again, we keep left heading forwards going slightly downhill. We make our way over some boggy ground to a clearing we turn right and head towards the buildings of Allum Green. At the wall and building we turn left following the wall. At the big black gate in the wall the path splits, we bear right still following the wall. The wall becomes a fence and when the fence turns right we head straight forward following the grass path ignoring any paths going off. We pick up the path called the Cut Walk and eventually start to walk up Lyndhurst Hill. After we go over the top and start to go down we soon come to a crossroads of paths. We cross straight over and as we drop down out of the trees we come to a field. We head forwards to cross the stile at the road. We turn right and keep heading forwards following the main road using the pavement back to the car park.
This is an easy walk on tarmac road, grass and gravel paths and tracks. There is some boggy ground and a shallow ford to cross, no bridge.
Elevation: approx lowest point 28m (91ft) approx highest point 84.50m (277ft) approx ascent 134m (439ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 5.7 miles allow 2½ to 3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL22, New Forest. This walk is done anti-clockwise.
Start point: Lyndhurst, pay and display car park just off the A35.
Lyndhurst is 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 to Lyndhurst. There is the main car park at the Visitors Centre just off the High Street fees are between 70p and £5. There are also three free Forestry Commission car parks near Bolton’s Bench on the outskirts of the village, just off the A35 going out towards Ashurst. The car park at White Moor is free.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets at the visitors centre situated in the main car park just off the High Street in Lyndhurst and in the car park at the Reptile Centre Nature Reserve. For refreshments there are many shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants in Lyndhurst.