We’ve got more than 190,000 acres of magical forest for you to enjoy. But did you know the New Forest has coastline, too? From east to west we have more than 40 miles of sand, shingle, secret beaches and estuaries just waiting to be explored. So check out what you need to know here…

    1. Forbidding forts – We have two, both built by Henry VIII, to guard against invasion. The first is at Calshot spit overlooking the entrance to Southampton Water and the second is on Hurst Spit, jutting so far into the sea you feel as if you could almost touch the Isle of Wight. Hurst Castle was used as a prison for the doomed King Charles I and is undergoing repairs but you can still visit the fortress – and Calshot, too.
    2.  Lost industry – Hard to believe it now, but during the 18th Century Lymington was Britain’s largest producer of salt. Visit the former salt pans at Keyhaven Marshes, to the west of the town, now a wildlife reserve.
    3. Smugglers’ Haunt – Take the trip to Lepe Country Park and walk the Solent Way for views of a little local icon. The brooding Watch House juts defiantly into the sea and is a lasting reminder of the days when smugglers roamed these remote shores.
    4. Jurassic larks – Forage for fossils at Barton-on-Sea – you’re most likely to find bivalve and gastropod shells, and shark and ray teeth from the eroded cliffs.
    5. Secret shore – Walk or cycle down Tanners Lane near Lymington at low tide and you could be in for a big surprise. Because this is one of the New Forest ponies’ favourite spots for a paddle and a snooze.
    6. Lighthouse trick – Don’t be fooled by the vernacular charm of the lighthouse at Lepe. It may look 200 years old but is actually a Millennium Beacon, constructed in the year 2000!
    7. Historic shipbuilding – visit the Maritime Museum at Buckler’s Hard on the tidal Beaulieu river, to learn how they built ships for Nelson’s Navy.
    8. WWII Airfield – It’s a peaceful green field now but RAF Needs Ore Point at the tip of the Beaulieu River was an Advanced Landing Ground constructed in the summer of 1943 in preparation for the invasion of mainland Europe. Four RAF British and Commonwealth squadrons comprising some 150 aircraft were based here in the build-up to D-Day, along with over 900 ground crew.
    9. Sunken ships – There are three notable wrecks off the New Forest coast; Fenna, a wooden cargo ship that sank in 1881, Serrana, a World War I cargo ship torpedoed by a U-Boat, and the SS War Knight, a supply ship torpedoed in 1918.
    10. Yachting Capital – Home of Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie, Lymington is the UK’s premier yachting town.