There’s a very good reason that we all keep being told to spend more time outside; walking, cycling, enjoying an activity or even just being.
And that’s because it’s so very, very good for us. It lowers our blood pressure, increases our wellbeing and soothes away stress in the most natural way imaginable.
And when you choose to be outdoors in the magical New Forest, the effect is even greater.
Because you’re literally surrounded by nature, all 143,000 acres of it. We dare you to feel stressed wandering through our woodland, or watching one of our adorable foals skipping across the heath! Add to that the scores of interesting activities you can get up to in the New Forest & the attractions you can visit and you’ll see how spending even just a few hours here can sharpen and calm the mind.
The easiest – and most popular – activity you can do in the New Forest is also the least costly. Just put one (sensibly clad) foot in front of another for as long as you would like to keep going. Then stop!
We’ve got family walks, short walks and long distance routes. How about the 34 mile Avon Valley Path from Salisbury to Christchurch Harbour? As the name suggests, this route follows along the valley of the River Avon and passes through both Fordingbridge and Ringwood.
We have accessible walks for visitors with mobility problems, wildlife walks for those who want to spot some of our fantastic flora and fauna on their journey, including the 1.1 or 1.4 mile Reptile Centre walks near Lyndhurst, and the Tall Trees Trail at Blackwater, and we have guided walks, too.
In all we have more than 140 miles of tracks and footpath, where you can enjoy easy-to-follow walking routes, short strolls or long-distance trails.
If you prefer to take our outdoors on two wheels then get on your bike – or use on of our amazing cycle hire shops, such as Forest Leisure Cycling, Cyclexperience and The Woods Cyclery, and ride around on some of the best equipment!
We have loads of fantastic cycle routes for you to follow listed on our website – such as our family friendly 2-mile (each way) ride between 2 of our top attractions, National Motor Museum in Beaulieu and Buckler's Hard. Or perhaps something a little more substantial if you are more experienced, like the 25-mile Lyndhurst to Burley ride!
Please remember to follow the New Forest Cycle Code when you’re out and about exploring the forest on your bikes!
If you fancy trying a fun and new activity while you’re in the New Forest then you’re in luck! From Horse Riding (with Burley Villa School of Riding) to Paddle Boarding (with The New Forest Paddle Sport Co), we have it all here in the New Forest for you to try!
If you’re a fan of watersports then head to New Forest Water Park, where you can enjoy all sorts of extreme sports including wakeboarding, or how about kayaking or canoeing with New Forest Activities? For some on-land fun you can try out archery or axe-throwing with Insight Activities, or blow all of those stresses away with The Horse Raft.
Date for the diary: We have a fabulous New Forest Activity Taster Day coming up, giving you the chance to enjoy a whole day of fun and try out some of brilliant activities! On Sunday 2 June some of our Go New Forest activity businesses, including Escape Yachting and Fuzzacker Guided Walks, are reducing their prices to provide great value introductory sessions to a wide range of different but amazing visitor experiences. Find out more about this great event on our dedicated webpage and book onto your chosen sessions now!
Remember, too, that many of our world-class New Forest attractions are very good at keeping you out in the fresh air. So spend the day on the thrill rides, being a little bit scared of the dinosaurs, and making friends with Peppa Pig at Paultons Park.
Take the kids for one of the best little train journeys that we know – the one at Exbury Gardens, where they can run free in one of the most extraordinary gardens you’ll ever witness. It’s not just the colours, reflected in the ponds, but all the beautiful scents and the chance to play hide and seek and share the experience of this heavenly space, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, which makes it so special. Or wander around the wonderful gardens at Furzey Gardens and see if you can find their hidden fairy doors! New Forest Lavender Farm is the most picture-perfect place to visit and enjoy some fresh air!
If you are a fan of wildlife then you will also be outdoors while looking at some cute animals at Longdown Activity Farm, New Forest Wildlife Park, or head to Dorset Heavy Horse Farm or Marwell Zoo, both of which are just outside of the New Forest. Or if you’re a history lover the amazing Hurst Castle, Breamore House and Countryside Museum or Rockbourne Roman Villa are the perfect places for you to visit!
Remember, too, that being outdoors doesn’t have to be organised. Take the kids to play Pooh Sticks on one of our forest bridges (Dockens Water at Linwood near Ringwood is good), or to paddle on the beach at Barton-on-Sea, or in one of our streams. Let them build their own bivvy in one of the woodlands, or enjoy a picnic on the forest floor!