7 wonderful walks in the New Forest National Park

Rural, Walking, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Kate Atkin on 22nd July 2021

New Forest walks

A colourful patchwork of heathland hills, ancient woodland, picture-postcard villages and a golden coastline; the New Forest National Park offers more than 140 miles of diverse walking trails through outstanding natural scenery. From easy-to-follow ambles to long-distance trails, New Forest walks allow you the freedom to experience the national park’s fascinating history and magnificent landscapes on foot.

New Forest scenery

Venture beneath mighty redwoods, stroll along powder-soft sands or stride out across vast open heathland in the company of free-roaming fallow deer, cattle and wild New Forest ponies. Our guide to seven of the most wonderful New Forest walks will help you discover the New Forest and lead you to some of the national park’s most beautiful treasures. So, whether you’re a keen hiker or you’re looking for a gentle stroll with the family, read on to unveil the best New Forest walking trails.

And if you’re looking for a cosy cottage in which you can rest your weary feet when your adventure is complete, click on the button below to take a look at our collection of New Forest cottages.

New Forest cottages

Tall Trees Trail

Tall Trees Trail

Stroll beneath a towering canopy of swaying boughs on the Tall Trees Trail, one of the best New Forest walks, in our humble opinions. This short, leafy trail begins at Blackwater car park and winds its way along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, home to some of the oldest Douglas fir trees in Britain, planted in the 1850s. It's also one of the most accessible places to walk in the New Forest, with flat pathways that are easy to follow. Pleasingly, the route is as educational as it is explorative, with information boards sprinkled throughout. Marvel at the mighty redwoods and giant sequoia, and keep your eyes peeled for roe deer which are native to this area.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Brookley Cottage, Brockenhurst | Sleeps 6

Wilverley Inclosure

Wilverley Inclosure

One of our favourite circular walks in the New Forest is the Wilverley Inclosure trail, which takes you through a variety of ancient and ornamental woodlands, on a wide gravel path. Along this big loop, there are some open areas where you might come across grazing cattle, fallow deer and even some of the New Forest’s famous ponies. And once you’ve finished your ramble, you can rest and refuel in the Old Station Tea House at Holmsley, treating yourself to one of their delicious cream teas.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Stay nearby: Rosewood Cottage, Burley | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Buckler's Hard

Beaulieu to Buckler's Hard

Enjoy one of the most scenic New Forest river walks on this waterside wander along the Beaulieu River. This well-trodden route begins in the village of Beaulieu, which dates back to the 13th century and culminates at the famous 18th-century shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard, where Lord Nelson’s favourite ship, Agamemnon, was built in 1781. There are long woodland sections with plenty of opportunities for birdwatching along the way, making it one of the best New Forest walks for wildlife spotting. Once you reach Buckler’s Hard, there’s a small marina to explore as well as pubs and tearooms where you can stop and enjoy a refreshment.

Distance: 2.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: The Saddlery, Beaulieu | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Keyhaven Marshes

Keyhaven Marshes

If you’re looking for one of the best New Forest walking routes that take in the breathtaking scenery of the national park’s coastline, then the Keyhaven Marshes trail is a superb choice. With views of Hurst Castle and across the Solent, all the way over to the Isle of Wight and The Needles chalk stacks, this circular route is a feast for the eyes. The first part of the walk follows the Solent Way, with the sea on one side and the marshes on the other, and then it cuts inland to follow an ancient highway behind the nature reserve, before returning to Keyhaven. The marshes are a haven for birdlife, with the chance of spotting bright orange-beaked oystercatchers, egret, kingfishers, redshanks and curlews feeding in the mossy, marshy puddles.

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Little Moorings, Lymington | Sleeps 5


Lyndhurst Circular

This wonderful circular walk in the New Forest combines all the best elements of this gorgeous national park. It begins in the self-proclaimed ‘Capital of the New Forest’, Lyndhurst, a bustling village surrounded by verdant countryside. The Lyndhurst Circular is one of the best New Forest walks for experiencing the village’s charm and is great for families. The route follows a heathland trail around the edge of the village, which is particularly stunning in summer when the ground is carpeted in purple flowering heather. You’ll discover a series of enchanting forest glades - perfect for a picnic - before meandering along peaceful lanes and arriving back at the village for a pub lunch or afternoon tea in one of the welcoming cafes. 

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Holmfield House, Lyndhurst | Sleeps 7


Bolderwood: Radnor Trail

One of the shortest New Forest walking routes on our list, this easy trail winds its way through the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. Along the Radnor Trail, you will crunch through a woodland filled with sweet chestnut, oak and beech trees dating from the 1860s. It then skirts the fenced boundary of Mark Ash Wood, an ancient and ornamental woodland, where you can see pollarded beech trees. Bratley Water, flowing south to join the Blackwater - a tributary of the Lymington River - is an ideal spot to rest and have a picnic before continuing to the Bolderwood deer viewing platform, where you can often see fallow deer being fed by the local rangers.

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Clares Cottage, Lyndhurst | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs


Abbots Well and Fritham

The Abbots Well and Fritham circular trail is one of our top New Forest dog walks, with plenty of open space for your pup to run freely. Situated in the north-west of the national park, a large proportion of the route is on high heathland, boasting impressive big-sky views and the chance to encounter some New Forest ponies. The hike begins at Abbots Well before rising to Hampton Ridge and then on to Fritham. Best of all, this is also one of our favourite New Forest pub walks, with a great pet-friendly pub along the way, the Royal Oak, where you can stop for a refreshing pint and a spot of lunch before continuing your journey.

Distance: 9 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Forest Hideaway, Godshill | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

The New Forest’s best walks on a map

Stay with us in the New Forest

Pack your walking boots and set off for an adventure in the spectacular New Forest. Not only is there an abundance of exhilarating New Forest walks to experience, but there are historical sites, thrilling attractions and exciting outdoor activities to enjoy too. Whether you fancy a break along the sparkling coast or deep within the leafy national park, our holiday cottages in the New Forest offer a memorable setting for your escapades. Click the button below to start planning your next staycation among these scenic New Forest walking routes.

New Forest cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.