There’s something magical about witnessing the sunrise and the sunsetting, but there is nowhere better to see this natural phenomenon than here in the New Forest.
Image - Rockford Common - Nick Lucas
Folklore has it that magic is at its strongest over the midsummer period – with tales about fairies and spirits contacting humans, and even the laws of nature being suspended for this time.
Science has put paid to many of these beliefs but it still can’t explain our fascination with the sun, and the way we are drawn to witness its rise and set.
Image - Picket Post
We have a slew of secret spots and wonderful places to witness one of the heavens’ greatest free shows, every day of the year.
Set your alarm, then prepare to take the trek to or Pipers Wait at Nomansland – at 129 metres, it’s the highest point in the forest and perfect for watching the sun rise, as well as set. Along with the sun you’ll enjoy panoramic views towards Dorset, Wiltshire and the sea.
Image - Location Unknown - Steve Hogan
Fancy a bit of extra colour? Wait until August when the heather is in bloom and get along to Ibsley Common near Ringwood, where the rising sun will emphasise the pink and purple colour of the flowers. If you’re fortunate, the valley below will be filled with mist, filtering the rays and enabling you to grab some fab shots for your Insta-feed.
Walk up to Bolton’s Bench at Lyndhurst. It’s not too steep a climb and you’ll witness some grand views of the rising or setting sun. Perhaps the sun’s fiery rays are why this legendary spot is associated with a long-vanquished dragon!
Image - Hatchet Pond - Paul Needham
Another inland spot that’s favoured by photographers at dawn and dusk is Hatchet Pond, where the sun’s magnificence is reflected in the still waters.
Talking of water, did you know we have more than 40 miles of beautiful, unspoiled, south-facing coast – perfect for watching the sun rise and set over, as well as an excellent place for a bit of morning meditation.
Image - Keyhaven - Visit Milford on Sea
For a grand sunrise, slip along to Calshot Beach on the forest’s most easterly tip, where you’ll enjoy utterly uninterrupted views of the spectacle over the Isle of Wight.
Lepe beach, in Lepe Country Park, is a few miles on to the west and, facing south, is an excellent place for watching both sunrise and sunset.
Image - Lepe Beach
Tiny Tanners Lane Beach near Lymington only has room for two or three people but, if you are those lucky people, it’s an enchanting space to take in the dawn or dusk. On a few, treasured occasions you may be luckier still and witness the New Forest’s roaming ponies enjoying a paddle - they like it there, too!
Image - Barton on Sea
And don’t forget Barton on Sea, where you can watch the sun setting from the shore or the clifftop.
Whether at dawn or dusk, make sure you bring some binoculars when you’re in the forest, because these are the best times to see the new season’s animals come out to play. Badger and fox cubs can be seen playing at sunrise or sunset and it’s a favoured time for fawns to be seen, as well as bats and barn owls.
Image - Newbridge
Make sure you make your trip extra special by bringing a breakfast or dinner picnic to enjoy – fires and BBQs are not allowed but The Forest Foodie can sort you some sumptuous fare!