Does anything beat a great family walk? One on which you see new things, discover new places and maybe stop off for a scrumptious picnic or at a delightful pub?

We don’t think so which is why we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to the best family experience of all – a walk in the magical New Forest.

1. Best for…Accessibility – Hordle Cliffs

This lovely walk is excellent for those with a larger buggy or who want to include a less able relative or friend on the trip.

The 2 mile stroll starts at Hordle Cliffs to the west of Milford-on-Sea and takes place on a sealed surface of fine gravel embedded in tarmac, making it perfect for wheeled transport. There are bench seats at frequent intervals and brick and wooden shelters, all with amazing views of the Solent.

2. Best for… Bird spotting - Keyhaven

If you can’t get enough of our feathered friends then this is the walk for you! The small village of Keyhaven is a harbour which is home to coastal grazing marshes, lagoons, former salt marshes and the nearby shingle beach of Hurst Spit.  

The marsh has become an important area for breeding waders in the summer months and it’s also rich in fish, encouraging Sandwich and Little tern as well as Black-headed gulls and Oystercatchers. Botanists will enjoy the local salt-tolerant plants among the shingle banks which include the Yellow-horned poppy, Sea campion and Sea aster.

3. Best for…Giant trees - Blackwater Tall Trees trail

Around 1.4 miles in length, this walk takes off from the Blackwater car park and through the Forestry Commission's Arboretum, with its small but nationally important collection of trees from all over the world.

Sensory information boards along the trail provide fascinating facts about the tallest, heaviest and toughest trees in the world. Look out for majestic conifers planted in the 1850s, some of the oldest Douglas fir trees in Britain and two enormous Giant sequoias.

4. Best for…Murder and mystery – Brook to Minstead

The 7.2 mile walk from Brook to Minstead village is perfect for those who love a good story. It starts at the Green Dragon pub and Bell Inn at Brook and takes you to the Rufus Stone to discover the grisly mystery surrounding the death of King William II. The route then follows quiet country lanes to the tranquil village of Minstead, where the spiritualist and creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is buried in the grounds of All Saints Church. You’ll return via winding lanes and fields to Canterton and Brook.


5. Best for… Lovers of Ancient Britain - Buckland Rings Trail

This route is nearly 7 miles long and will inspire your young ones to learn more about ancient history. Starting at Brockenhurst railway station, the walk takes you through Roydon Woods nature reserve, over Setley Plain and onto Buckland Rings, the site of a former Iron Age hill fort near Lymington.

It’s part of the Rail Trail series of walks from the Lymington-Brockenhurst branch line.

6. Best for… deer-spotting – Deer watch trail

Just half a mile in length, this short stroll from Bolderwood car park leads you to a deer viewing platform overlooking fields where wild herds of Fallow deer are regularly seen. From Easter to mid-September the herd is fed daily by one of the Forestry Commission keepers. You can extend the walk by one of the Bolderwood trails that are on offer from this point.

7. Best for…Being beside the seaside - The Sea Air Trail 

At just 5.5 miles long, this trail takes in some of the long-distance Solent Way Walk.

Beginning in the Georgian market town of Lymington, you’ll pass along the Lymington-Keyhaven nature reserve with some amazing views across the Solent and to Isle of Wight, and an abundance of wildlife. Upon reaching Keyhaven it is possible to take a bus back to Lymington but you could extend your walk and take in Hurst Spit or Milford-on-sea.

8. Best for… foodies - The Burley Food Trail 

This potential five-miler will give your family the chance to experience a taste of New Forest Cider (well, mums and dads, anyway!), traditional sweets and handmade fudge, whilst walking a 3.3 mile route. The route takes a circular journey starting in the village of Burley and out into the countryside along part of the disused railway line.

If you’re feeling energetic, the walk can be extended to the full 5 miles and takes in a visit to The Old Station Tea Rooms. For younger walkers, there are plenty of things to spot along the way including a ‘cob’ cottage made of earth, a witch on a broomstick and a large stone cross!

9. Best for… little legs -  Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard

This is a 2 mile walk which you can start from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu or, if you aren’t visiting the museum, starting from the car park in Beaulieu village.

It’s a level, virtually traffic-free walk following the Beaulieu River as it winds its way southeast to Buckler’s Hard.  You’ll pass through woodland, beside the tidal river-edge grassland and by the salt marsh before ending up in the pretty village of Buckler’s Hard.

Once you reach the hamlet there are a couple of places you can stop for a bite to eat or a quick snack. You can also visit the Maritime Museum or take a cruise along the Beaulieu River (but charges apply for entry to the museum and river cruise).

10. Best for…a family walking adventure - Avon Valley Walk

This 34-mile walking route begins in the beautiful cathedral city of Salisbury and follows the route of the River Avon as it meanders its way south to Christchurch harbour.

The walk is divided into five separate sections with the middle three sections passing through the New Forest in and around Fordingbridge and Ringwood. Along the way you’ll pass through some of the small New Forest villages, including Woodgreen and Rockford.

Expect to see plenty of nature, including wildflowers and water meadows. Lapwing, Golden plover and Snipe can also be spotted at certain times of the year along parts of this excellent route.

If you need accommodation on this walk, try for the best deals and places to stay.