Whether you are a new visitor to the New Forest or know it well, a guided walk can show you parts of our National Park that you may not know about and help you uncover some of our hidden gems.
In this blog, we take a look at some of the top reasons why you should book a guided walk…
1. Discover our rich nature
The New Forest is a haven for wildlife. From the elusive ground-nesting birds such as nightjars that favour our heathland through to brent geese who seek refuge in our wetlands over the winter. Our national park is also home to several of the native species of reptile including smooth snakes and sand lizard.
Of course, a visit to the New Forest isn’t complete without spotting our New Forest ponies too!
Book onto a guided walk and you can be taken to some of the spots that many of these animals frequent and be led by the experts who can tell you more about our amazing flora and fauna.
2. Learn about the New Forest’s culture
From verderers to commoners, how much do you know about the New Forest’s culture? Discover how the New Forest’s cultural traditions live on today. You can find out more about our ways of life, including pannage – which is the time of year when commoners’ pigs are allowed out onto the forest floor to eat the fallen acorns (acorns are toxic to the New Forest ponies and cattle).
3. Explore places you may not know of
If you haven’t been to the New Forest before, a guided walk can really help set the scene and give you the confidence to explore it further for yourself afterwards. Our trusted guides can take you to some of the area’s hidden gems, whether it’s for amazing views or to show you things that otherwise you might not know are there.
4. Uncover some of our history
Find out more about the New Forest’s history. From its formation in the days of William the Conqueror through to its role in WW2. By booking a guided tour you can be led by experts on our beautiful area and can learn along the way.
5. Keep your fitness levels up
Of course, walking is a great way to keep fit and what better a place to walk? Explore our woodlands, a very tempting thing to do on those especially hot days, take a walk through the heathland or discover more of the New Forest’s coastline.
Not only is walking good for your physical health but also benefits your mental health too, helping you to restore your zen.
Which companies offer guided walks in the New Forest?
There are several companies that run guided walks in the New Forest. Wild New Forest specialise in nature walks. They run ‘Welcome to the New Forest’ walks that depart from various Forestry England car parks around the National Park. Their welcome walks are 90 minutes and cost £12.50 for adults, with children under ten going free. In addition to this, they also offer ‘Discovery walks’ which depart from or close to the main hubs of Brockenhurst, Burley, Lyndhurst and Lymington and take approximately 3 hours and ‘New Forest explorer walks’ which focus more on the habitats of the New Forest and the amazing wildlife you can see here. Bookings for any of the walks can be made on Wild New Forest’s website.
For something a little different, why not book onto a Brockenhurst Donkey Walk? Brockenhurst Donkey Walks are tucked away in the forest with no roads to cross just gravel tracks, heathland and ancient woodland to meander. Whilst walking you should see the forest ponies grazing in their natural habitat. The donkeys are great at helping you to relax and unwind and walks can be tailored to your requirements.
You will also find guided walks offered as part of events programmes at various New Forest attractions. Look out for guided walks of Lepe Country Park which may be themed about the park’s beach, it’s WW2 connections or the nature that can be found here. Keep an eye on our events listings for up-and-coming guided walks.
The annual New Forest Walking & Cycling Festival also offers several opportunities to join expert guides as they navigate you on a variety of walks through the National Park. This year, the festival is set to run from 15 October - 6 November.