A hunting forest for over 900 years
he New Forest has hardly changed since William the Conqueror made it a hunting forest over 900 years ago. Discovering an expanse of open heathland and ancient woodland full with wild ponies in the heavily-populated south east of England is a real Narnia moment. Spanning from Hampshire to Wiltshire, explore the ancient landscape on foot, horseback or bike and experience the secluded splendour for yourselves.
History and Heritage
Since William the Conqueror created his ‘new hunting forest' in 1079 not much has changed, giving the New Forest its unique atmosphere. Learn about the forest's history at The New Forest Museum in Lyndhurst. To continue your blast of the past, there’s also the Rockbourne Roman Villa , Eling Tide Mill , and Buckler's Hard , where the forest’s oaks were turned into ships for Nelson, to explore.
Arts and Culture
For some serious chin-stroking and debating head to Artsway in Sway and really engage with contemporary visual art. To see just how inspirational the New Forest is check out the local artistic talent on display at the Coastal Gallery in Lymington. Those with a literary bent should visit the grave of Alice Liddell, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, in the churchyard at Lyndhurst.
Must See Attractions
From stylish Bond mobiles to Del Boy’s yellow Reliant Robin, the National Motor Museum at the Beaulieu Estate is home to more than 250 cars, not all of them fast and furious. Watch magnificent birds of prey flying free and reptiles flicking their tongues at Liberty's Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre in Ringwood. And you can’t miss the Sway Tower, which stands proud at 218ft.
Food and Drink
In the village of Burley, the ancient craft of cider-making is alive and kicking with New Forest Cider using apples from traditional cider orchards to make their potent thirst-quenchers. Chef Tony Barnfield champions local produce at The Nurse's Cottage Restaurant in Sway as does the Manor Restaurant in Brockenhurst with the likes of mouth-watering roasted haunch of New Forest venison.
It doesn’t matter if you walk, cycle or ride a horse through the New Forest; you’re guaranteed to be blown away by its natural beauty. Brockenhurst is a good base for the many walks and cycle trails but for the ultimate experience track down a New Forest stable that offer rides into the 94,000 acres of ancient forest. At Western Riding Experiences, you can learn to ride cowboy style – lasso and yee-has all included.
It’s no secret that Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried in the churchyard at All Saints Church in Minstead and artist Augustus John lived and died at Fordingbridge. Celebrate the achievements of Henry ‘Brusher’ Mills with a pint at The Snakecatcher pub in Brockenhurst – the local hero caught a staggeringly 30,000 snakes and 3,500 adders in his lifetime.
The New Forest Show celebrates all things agricultural show with three days of show jumping and livestock competitions in July. Beaulieu is a constant hotbed of activity - there’s a boat show in spring, open-air concerts in the summer and an auto sale in September perfect for picking up a restorable relic. Keen runners should jog on to New Milton for the New Forest Marathon in September.
Family bonding? It may not sound like fun but once you’ve pulled together to climb one of the forest’s humongous trees at the New Forest Outdoor Centre or kayaked the Beaulieu River there will be smiles all round. To stretch that grin even further hit Paultons Family Theme Park in Romsey for over 60 different attractions and rides.
Or you may like...
Forest of Dean & Wye Valley
Forest of Dean & Wye Valley is an enchanting area of waterways and ancient woodlands carpeted with bluebells
Popular with sightseers and ramblers alike, the South Downs boasts lush rolling landscapes and Roman ruins
More about... New Forest
The New Forest - the official visitor site.
Things to do
From events and attractions to fine dining and nights out; discover things to do in the New Forest.
...through the picturesque New Forest.Cycling in the New Forest