The historic market town of Ringwood occupies a strategic position on the western edge of the New Forest with the renowned Avon Valley long-distance walking path passing through it. Vital ancient trading links once provided by the River Avon and the Victorian railway have been replaced by excellent road systems with the town at the crossroads of the A31 and A338 offering fast journeys to and from Southampton, Poole, Salisbury and Bournemouth.
The Wednesday street market has been held in the Market Place since a charter was awarded in 1226, this charter has been held by the family of Lord Morant for hundreds of years. Animals and agricultural goods were still bought and sold into the 1980s, but now a wide variety of merchandise can be found, complimented at the weekends by farmers and speciality markets held in The Furlong and Gateway Square.
The exact history of the town remains unknown however in 955 AD, documents suggest that ‘Rimucwude’ is mentioned which translates into the ‘rim of the forest’. A church and a mill were also mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086.
In 1725, brewing took off in Ringwood as breweries made use of the waters of the River Avon giving rise to great beers.
Things to do in Ringwood
There are loads of great things to do and see in Ringwood. The town centre comprises a rich mix of architecture, thatched, Georgian and modern with many historic buildings amongst them. Monmouth House in West Street named after the Duke of Monmouth, who was held there in 1685 after his defeat at Sedgemore, before being taken to London for execution, also the Presbyterian Meeting House built in 1727, with its original box pews are worthy of special mention. The church of St Peter and St Paul built on the site of a Saxon church contains some unique features, with the bell tower sometimes open to the public, and overlooks the Market Place where the Jubilee Lamp was installed in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
A stroll down West Street takes you to the Jubilee Gardens with the millstream running through it, once supplying power to the corn mill which stood next to the church before being demolished to make way for the dual carriageway.
Close by you will find a fishing tackle shop where a day licence can be purchased for fishing on the River Avon, this and the nearby gunsmiths reflect the townsfolk’s affinity with the countryside and the activities it offers. Several cycle shops cater for those on two wheels and the Country Store at Crow has everything for pets and horses including tack and clothing.
Sailing and water sports facilities are located amongst the lakes just to the north of the town on the A338 including the popular New Forest Water Park and Spinnaker Sailing Club.
For those with lots of energy there is our state of the art skate park at Carvers sports ground next to the community cafe. Adjacent to this is the Council Leisure Centre offering top of the range gym equipment, fitness classes and a 25 metre swimming pool. Casual visitors are welcome along with members, to use all the facilities including children’s pool and play area.
A visit to the famous Ringwood Brewery offers the chance to sniff the hops and sample the ales and beers made on the premises including favourites ‘Old Thumper’ and ‘Razor Back’. Guided tours are available on weekends or at other times for pre-booked groups.
There are many pleasant walks around the town, for example the old railway line, now called the Castleman Trailway goes, in one direction, to Moors Valley Country Park and the other way to Ringwood Brewery and then onto Crow Farm Shop, both with their respective award-winning produce.
Get close to nature with Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile centre at Crow, or at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve a mile or so north of Ringwood where wild fowl, wildflowers and wildlife reflect the changing seasons.
Snowtrax is an outdoor alpine activity centre just a few miles from the centre of Ringwood. The centre has a dry ski slope offering ski and snowboarding lessons, coaching sessions, recreational skiing, ski bobbing and ringoing. For younger visitors there is an Alpine Adventure Park with trampolines, swings, slides and much more.
Head to Hockey’s Farm Shop where not only can you pick up fresh, local New Forest produce but have the opportunity to meet the farm’s many animals or simply relax in the licensed café. Hockeys is now also offering visitors bike hire for adults and older children. Bike hire includes a helmet, puncture repair kit plus a selection of maps covering 5 to 25 miles, a great way to explore the New Forest for yourself!
Those in need of retail therapy will find all they are looking for in Ringwood town centre with traditional family owned shops along with high quality High Street favourites and supermarkets. Butchers and fishmongers, bakers and health foods, antique shops featured on TV, furniture and musical instruments, jewellery and bridal shops, clothes, shoes and much more go to make Ringwood a vibrant town centre.
Events in and around Ringwood
Throughout the year there are several major regular events in Ringwood: Fanfare for Spring has entertainers of all kinds, Pedal Car Grand Prix is a fierce contest of leg power on the town’s roads, the carnival is one of the largest of its kind with two big processions during the day and a great funfair. Bonfire night and the Christmas lights switch on both attract large crowds and Christmas Eve carols in the Market Place is a wonderful, unique example of generosity when the children give presents to Father Christmas to be distributed to other less fortunate children.
Make sure you keep an eye out for the upcoming performances at Forest Forge Theatre! They specialise in creating performances for audiences to come and watch in their amazing studio-theatre, including theatre, music, dance and more.
Ringwood Raceway, at nearby Matchams, offers an exhilarating programme of motoring events including banger racing and meet and greet nights. There are also regular car boot sales held here on a Sunday.
Blashford Lakes nature reserve offers various guided nature walks throughout the year, family nature events as well as courses and workshops for adults in this tranquil setting.
At Moors Valley Country Park look out for themed family nature trails, pond-dipping events and other outdoor activities and events including the popular pond-dipping sessions.
Keep an eye on our what’s on pages for upcoming events in and around Ringwood and don’t forget to make a trip to the weekly Wednesday morning market, held in the Market Place.
Places to stay in and around Ringwood
For those wishing to stay to take advantage of all the wonderful things Ringwood has to offer, or use it as a base for further wider exploration, there are loads of places to stay.
Ringwood offers the staying visitor a variety of options including the cosy B&B, The Shimmerings. Nearby, you can find camping and caravanning at Red Shoot Camping Park and self-catering options at holiday homes and holiday parks, including Oakdene Holiday Park and the adult only, Back of Beyond Touring Park. Use the search box on this page to check availability for your visit.
Where to eat and drink in Ringwood
You won't be hungry while you're in Ringwood with loads of fantastic places to eat and drink. There are several excellent coffee shops and cafes in the High Street and around the town. In the evening the town takes on a lively, sophisticated atmosphere with traditional pubs, unique bars and quality restaurants, some offering live entertainment.
Getting to Ringwood
Ringwood is situated along the A31 half way between nearby Southampton and Poole. There are regular buses from Bournemouth, Poole and Salisbury.
Click here to find out more about this wonderful New Forest Town on the Town Council website.
You can also find out more about the organisations, events and voulenteer work in Ringwood on the Ringwood Network Website.