1. Piper’s Wait – At 140 metres, this hill, near the romantically-named Nomansland in the Forest’s north, is New Forest’s highest point. Easy to find, with its own car-park, you’ll be able to take in views to Watership Down in the north east, as well as Danebury Hillfort near Andover, and the Isle of Wight.
2. The Huff Duff – The National Trust’s walk over Ibsley Common includes this delightful little gem whose name comes from its original purpose, as a High Frequency Direction Finding station HF/DF. The original structure had a rotating aerial mounted on a tower and together with other Huff Duffs, were used to plot enemy or Allied manoeuvres during the Second World War. Sadly, you can’t see the building anymore (although the New Forest National Park Authority’s site has a CGI of what it would have looked like) but there is also a fascinating military bunker nearby. And the views? Expect to see miles of heathland laid out like a carpet, as well as the silver birches in their autumn colour.
3. Bratley View – The clue’s in the name and what you’ll see from the land in this area near Minstead and Lyndhurst is a beautiful valley, with flaring gorse and, in season, a carpet of purple heather. Enhance your experience by arriving on a misty morning and watch the trees appear magically through the vapour.
4. Hurst Spit – This shingle arm extends from Milford-on-Sea into the Solent. If you brave the stony walk out, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Western Solent as well as the Isle of Wight, which seems so near, you feel you could almost touch it. On the spit, you'll also find the incredible Hurst Castle, where you can see even more stunning views from.
5. Lutterell’s Tower – OK, so you have to pay to use this Landmark Trust rental, near Calshot in the Forest’s east. If you do, however, you’ll be treated to a jaw-dropping 360-degree panorama of sea, sky and land, encompassing the Isle of Wight, Southampton and the beautiful New Forest. The building’s history is just as amazing – the tower was thrown up in the 18th century for alleged smuggler, Temple Simon Luttrell, who was said to count the Royal family amongst his customers!
6. Bolton’s Bench - Legend has it that a dragon lived at Burley Beacon, and flew every morning to Bisterne to be supplied with milk. It was finally vanquished by a knight named Berkeley who, after a bloody battle, slayed it and left it to be buried under this little hill just outside of Lyndhurst. However, poor Berkeley, traumatised by the ordeal, was also said to have died on the same hill, and the yew tree there is said to have sprung from his bow, which was buried with him. Unsurprisingly, the views from Bolton’s Bench are of the village, but it’s also great for watching the sunset, too.
7. Calshot Castle – Again, you’ll have to pay to do it, but what the central tower at Henry VIII’s coastal fort lacks in height, it makes up for in views. You can see across Southampton Water, with its ocean liners and racing yachts steaming by, as well as across to the industrial landscape in Fawley, and the eastern Forest.
8. Telegraph Hill – This hill near Bramshaw got its name after it was chosen as the site for a 19th century signalling or shutter site, to convey military messages during the Napoleonic wars. The shutter system – comprising six shutters in a frame - was used as a form of shorthand to send messages between London and the Royal Navy at Plymouth. Invented by Lord George Murray, the shutters could, it’s claimed, convey a message across the country within 20 minutes – vital in case of invasion. Now all that’s left is the view, one of the best places to see the sunrise and sunset, as well as spot birds of prey.
9. Castle Hill – The castle referred to near Godshill is believed to have been built in 1148 on the site of an earlier Iron Age hill fort. The earthwork ring and bailey remain, although the best view is from Castle Hill car-park across the Avon Valley with the hills of Wiltshire in the background.
10. Lepe Beach – True, it’s actually at sea-level but the view from this beach (where you can still see the remains of D-Day Mulberry Harbours) is one of the Forest’s most beautiful. You can more or less glimpse the same vista that persuaded Queen Victoria to buy a house on the Isle of Wight and it was also the route taken by the Titanic after she left Southampton on her doomed maiden voyage.