Travelling through the New Forest by bicycle is an adventure that promises to be both invigorating and full of breath-taking views, offering a unique way to experience one of the UK’s most enchanting landscapes. Let us guide you through planning your journey, what to expect, and tips for making the most of your New Forest cycling adventure…

Why choose the New Forest for your cycling adventure?

The New Forest, located in southern England, offers an unforgettable escape into nature, with its vast landscapes, fascinating history and unique wildlife, providing a unique backdrop for your cycling adventure. With an expansive network of gravel trails and quiet country lanes perfect for cycling, this location is ideal whether you’re looking for a vigorous challenge or a peaceful ride.

New Forest Off Road Club - Cycling pic

Planning your trip

When to go

The New Forest is beautiful year-round, with a list of different reasons to visit each season. With spring comes stunning views and the opportunity to see the New Forest bloom into colour. Summer offers longer, sunnier days to explore, while autumn offers ideal temperatures and the chance to ride beneath glowing autumnal hues. In the winter you can benefit from quieter cycle paths and roads, with frosty landscapes along the way.

How to get here

Arriving to the New Forest with your bikes is super easy. With quick and direct access from the motorway (M27) and dual carriageway (A31), visiting via car with your bikes in situ has never been easier, no matter which direction you’re coming from. It takes just 90 minutes to travel from central London to the New Forest by train, with bikes being allowed onboard, its an ideal (and more economic) way to get to here. Or, you can get here by ferry from Southampton (via Hythe Ferry) or from the Isle of Wight (via Wightlink), both services allow bikes to be carried onboard for free. Alternatively, you can cycle from more local areas into the New Forest to begin your cycling expedition in our National Park.

New Forest Off Road Club - Cyclist

What to bring

- Bicycle: Depending on your route plans and your preferring cycling style, gravel bikes and mountain bikes and excellent for the forest tracks, while road bikes and hybrid bikes are ideal for our country roads. E-bikes are also allowed in the forest, whilst our National Park is quite flat, you can come across a few hill! If you don’t have your own bike, or wish to try a different bike out, there are plenty of places to hire a bike dotted around the New Forest (You can find some recommendations of bike hire spots later in the blog).

- Helmet: Safety first! Always wear a helmet while cycling.

- Map and compass/GPS: Even though the New Forest is well-signposted, having a map or GPS can help you explore more confidently. Or, discover our helpful interactive routes on our website, that can be exported to Google Maps.

- Weather-appropriate clothing: The weather can be changeable, so dress in layers and bring waterproof gear.

- Food and water: Although there are many cycling pit-stop locations, including pubs, cafes and farm shops, it’s always wise to carry snacks and water to refuel your energy along the way, especially if you’re out for a long ride!

Father and son cycling in the summer in the New Forest

Routes to explore

There are numerous cycling routes throughout the New Forest, ranging from easy, family-friendly trails to more challenging rides for experienced cyclists. Some popular routes include:

- Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst Loop: Enjoy a leisurely ride through ancient woodland and open landscapes on this wonderful ride taking you from one popular New Forest village to another. 

- Beaulieu to Brockenhurst Loop: A lovely, longer ride, taking you along beautiful heathland with great open views, through tall trees and over a WWII airfield. 

- Northern Forest Circular: Discover the Northern parts of the New Forest and ride across rolling hills and over vast landscapes, this is longer ride is super inspiring.

- The Old Railway: Ideal for families or those looking for a leisurely ride, this route follows the path of an old railway line, ensuring a flat and scenic journey.

The New Forest Off Road Club - Group Cycling

Where to hire bikes (if necessary)

There are lots of options for locations to hire bikes in the New Forest, dotted around our local towns and villages, all with great access to cycle routes. Here’s our list of top bike hire centres and their locations: 

Beaulieu – New Forest Activities
Burley - New Forest Cycling
Brockenhurst - Cyclexperience Bike Hire
Lyndhurst – The Woods Cyclery
Lymington - New Forest Bikes
Milford on Sea (Delivery) - Jaunt-e Bikes

The Woods Cyclery - Cycling in Woodland in the New Forest

Get involved in a guided ride

If you’d like to explore the New Forest on two-wheels with a local expert, head out on a guided cycling tour or a group ride in the New Forest. New Forest Cycling Tours offer rides leading through the heart of the New Forest, with 7 rides to choose from lasting for 2 hours, half a day or a full day. Join Jaunt-e Bikes on a unique e-bike experience, including their Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours. Wild New Forest also offer incredible bespoke cycling tours.

The New Forest Off Road Club host regular social group rides with their brilliant leaders, varying from chill rides to more fast paced adventures, winding through the beautiful New Forest. You can also join in with The Woods Cyclery’s weekly group rides every Sunday.

Enjoy inclusive cycling with PedALL. They have a fantastic fleet of specialist bikes, as well as a wonderful team and volunteers, to get everyone of all ages and abilities out exploring the New Forest! 

Tips for a great cycling New Forest experience

- Respect the wildlife: The New Forest is home to free-roaming ponies, cattle, donkeys and even pigs during the autumn. These animals have right of way on all forest roads. Please ensure that you maintain a safe distance and do not touch or feed the animals. Always follow the New Forest Code when you’re out and about in the forest.

- Follow the New Forest Cycling Guide: Stick to way-marked trails and public roads, and be mindful of other forest users. See the full guide here.

- Be prepared: Always check/service your bike before heading out on a bike ride in the New Forest. Local bike hire centres are available to help if you do become unstuck, but at times you could be quite far from the nearest service point.

Cycling early spring in the New Forest

Where to stay

Make a break of it and come for a cycling holiday in the New Forest. There are plenty of places to stay that offer safe and secure places to lock your bikes up, and even locations that will provide bikes for your cycle rides.

Many of our hotels and B&Bs offer bike storage, or are located nearby local bike hire companies. Stay at a local holiday park. Both Sandy Balls Holiday Village and Green Hill Holiday Village offer bike hire on-site, whilst Shorefield Country Park have bike racks. Camp beneath the stars and enjoy a peaceful time knowing that your bikes are safe at local campsites. Stay at Avon Tyrrell, who offer bike hire and also have their own on-site mountain biking trails!

Escape to one of the gorgeous self catering cottages in the New Forest, a lot of which have safe cycle storage, including Inglewood Cottage, Apple Cottage, Rhubarb Cottage, St Mary's Garden Cottage and Needle House. A large number of New Forest Cottages’ 170 properties have the convenience of secure bike storage, ensuring your prized possession can be safely stowed away throughout your stay.

Happy cycling!