On land, on the water or even in the air, the New Forest has everything you need this summer for enjoying some fabulous outdoor fun – we’ll tell you where!
One of our favourites is the Sea Air Trail. At 5.5 miles long it can easily be completed in a day and will take you from Lymington to Keyhaven nature reserve, where not only can you enjoy some amazing views across to the Solent and the Isle of Wight, but an abundance of wildlife. If you want to take this walk further still, you can add in a turn about Hurst Spit, before walking on to Milford on Sea.
Image - Walking at Keyhaven. Credit: New Forest National Park Authority
For something a bit different, why not attempt part of the 34-mile Avon Valley Walk from Salisbury to Christchurch Harbour? As its name suggests, this route follows the meanderings of the River Avon, passing through Fordingbridge and Ringwood, with plenty of excellent places for a stopover on the way.
Image - Walking at Bratley View. Credit: New Forest National Park Authority
Another great idea is to start your assault on the new, England Coast Path, which is due to be fully open in the next few years. Few people will be able to take the 10 months needed to walk the whole trail, but it can be completed in sections and our nearest part is The Solent Way. The 60-mile route runs from Milford on Sea in the western New Forest, to Emsworth Harbour in East Hampshire. It follows the coastline, passing through Lymington, Beaulieu and Hythe.
Rounders and kickabouts
What can be more fun than a family game of five-a-side or rounders? Bring them to Bolderwood, where you can utilise the grassed area to play informal team games to your heart’s content.
Another good location is Wilverley Inclosure. Due to the area being ploughed and sown with crops during WWII, the grassy fields have become a popular area for grazing ponies, as well as for playing games. Even more handily, there are also toilet facilities along with picnic tables.
Image - Playing by the river. Credit: New Forest National Park Authority
If you do decide to use any grassy area for outdoor fun, remember to make sure that no free roaming animals or ponies are likely to be disturbed. Mothers are very protective of their young and can ponies can react badly if you play noisy games too near to them or their foals.
Building sandcastles and finding fossils
Image - Making sandcastles at Lepe Beach. Credit: New Forest National Park Authority
Barton on Sea is also the perfect place for a Jurassic lark, given that you can find fossilised gastropods and shark’s teeth on the foreshore, past the sea defences at low tide. There are plenty of helpful facilities nearby, including a café and loos, making this a great choice for a day in the fresh air.
Whether it’s a teddy bears’ affair or the full-blown Enid Blyton, nothing says outdoors like a picnic.
Best places to throw down your tartan rug? Well, Whitefield Moor near Brockenhurst is a beautiful spot, with walks around the nearby Ober Water stream, or you could try Balmer Lawn, just north of Brockenhurst. There are giant oaks for shade, streams for water fun and the chance to spot the New Forest ponies, who are also keen on this area.
Image - Picnic by the river at Balmer Lawn
The National Trust’s Northern Commons are another great place to stop for a picnic – walk to Robin Hood’s clump on the Ibsley Common trail for shade and amazing views.
Blackwater Woods on Rhinefield Drive has picnic tables (in case you don’t want to lunch at ground level.) There are also tables at Bolderwood and several other Forest car parks.
Or, if you’d rather be beside the seaside, try Lepe Country Park for some lovely sea views and the chance for a quick paddle.
Image - Lepe Country Park
Whatever you do, never, ever feed the ponies. It’s bad for their health, leads to more road collisions and could put you and your fellow-picnickers at risk of a nip or a kick.
Whether you’re a wobbly beginner, a new returner, on a family day out or a track and off-road fan, we’ve got the ride for you. From the tiny two-miler from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard, to the 25-mile Lyndhurst to Brockenhurst, we’ve got it covered.
We have more than 100 miles of cycle routes in the New Forest, with around 98 per cent off-road.
Image - Cycling in the New Forest. Credit: New Forest Cycling/The Woods Cyclery
The Old Railway route takes you along 9 miles of gravel track, with just 30% of the route on quiet roads.
For a medium 15-mile route which you can easily extend or shorten – with lots of lovely foodie stops – start off at Abbotswell Car Park and join the cycle network to Fritham village. Next stop is Eyeworth Pond and then it’s onto Fordingbridge and Godshill before coming round to Stuckton Road and back to Abbotswell.
No bike? No problem! We have lots of lovely companies who can not only hire you the best set of wheels for your ride, but also give great advice and safety equipment, too.
Image - Cycling with a dog carriage
Get along to Cyclexperience in Brockenhurst, where they have 300 machines to choose from, including tandems, tag-alongs and even a doggy-trailer for your four-legged friend. They also do repairs and have inclusive bicycles, too. New Forest Cycling in Burley is another quality provider, as is The Woods Cyclery in Lyndhurst and New Forest Bikes in Lymington.
Fly a traditional kite
Our Forest bye-laws prevent large kites (over 2 metres) from being flown anywhere in the New Forest but smaller ones can be flown, although you should always check for the presence of ponies or other wildlife before you fly, as it is an offence to scare or hurt them. Also check for overhead power cables, traffic or any other danger or obstruction.
Take your little kites to Wilverley Plain, which has good wind factor, or Stoney Cross Common, which has been cited as another location for this activity.
Get in on the action
The New Forest is absolutely jampacked with fun-filled outdoor adventures and activities. The must-try activity this summer is the unique Medieval Trio at Insight Activities. A combination of Archery, Crossbow Rifles, and Axe Throwing, all within their picturesque secluded woodland, great fun for families, couples, and friends. Plus, they’re offering a brilliant discount: Enter GONewForest during online booking and get 10% off!
Image - Axe Throwing with Insight Activities
Cool down by the water, all while enjoying a brilliant watersport activity. Try out paddleboarding with The New Forest Paddle Sport Company, kayaking or canoeing with New Forest Activities, wakeboarding with New Forest Water Park or sailing with Calshot Activities.
Or head up in the trees on a tree top trail with Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Centre or abseiling with Foxlease Activity Centre. Horse Riding is a brilliant way to explore the beauty of the New Forest - ride horseback with Burley Villa Riding Stables!
*Find plenty more great ideas for outdoor fun here: thenewforest.co.uk