Do you have a question about the New Forest? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions below and hopefully they will answer your query!
New Forest Facts
Where is the New Forest?
The New Forest is in Hampshire located between Southampton and Bournemouth, below Salisbury on the south coast of the UK.
How old is the New Forest?
The New Forest was formally designated by William the Conqueror in 1079 so it is now nearly 1,000 years old.
Why is the New Forest called the New Forest?
William the Conqueror created it as his ‘new hunting forest’ naming it ‘Nova Foresta’, which evolved into its English name meaning ‘New Forest’. The term "forest" referred not to trees but an area subject to Forest Law, reserving the pursuit of beasts within it exclusively for the king and his officers.
How big is the New Forest?
The New Forest National Park covers an area of 219 square miles.
What is the New Forest famous for?
The New Forest is famous for being William the Conqueror’s ‘new hunting forest’ and the place where King William II is said to have been fatally wounded and died due to an arrow being shot at him in 1100AD by Sir Walter Tyrrell. The New Forest is also famous for its wandering ponies, cattle, deer and historically for smuggling as well as playing a big part in WW1 and WW2. Find out more on our History and Heritage Page.
Who owns the New Forest?
Around 90% of the land in the New Forest is owned by The Crown and has been managed by Forestry England since 1923.
Is the New Forest a National Park?
The New Forest was designated a National Park in 2005 to give this outstanding landscape the highest level of protection and to preserve it for the nation to enjoy for generations to come.
Visiting the New Forest
Is the New Forest always open?
The New Forest is always open. However barriers to some forest car parks may be closed at dusk, to protect ground nesting birds, during forestry operations or in winter months. But you are able to explore the New Forest itself during daylight hours, 365 days of the year.
Is the New Forest free?
It is free to enter the New Forest. There are lots of visitor attraction and activity businesses within the New Forest where you will need to pay, but to explore our woodland, heathland and coast is free of charge.
What Towns and Villages are in the New Forest?
There are many towns and villages in the New Forest, these include, Ashurst, Barton on Sea, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Burley, Fordingbridge, Hythe, Lymington, Lyndhurst, Milford on Sea, New Milton, Ringwood, Sway and Totton. Plus, there are many other small villages and hamlets.
Are there any beaches in the New Forest area?
The New Forest boasts 26 miles of beaches on it's coastline.
Are there any public toilet facilities in the New Forest?
Yes, there are public toilets located in lots of the towns and villages in the New Forest, operated by New Forest District Council, and also in popular locations in the Forest, operated by Forestry England. Please note, not all NFDC public toilets are currently open, please see list here and most Forestry England toilets are currently closed, except for Bolderwood, Wilverly and Blackwater.
New Forest Travel & Parking
How far is the New Forest from London?
By car from Central London to Junction 1 of the M27 at Cadnam (the main vehicular entrance into the New Forest) is approx. 85 miles. Travelling by train from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst (the New Forest’s main railway station) takes around 90 minutes.
How do you get to the New Forest?
By car, you can get to the New Forest on the A31 heading east, the M27 heading west and the A36 heading south. By train you can get to there from any main railway station in the UK, there are 7 railway stations located in the New Forest. If you wish to travel by air, there are 2 international Airports nearby at Bournemouth and Southampton, London Heathrow is just 70 miles away. You can also travel by coach, the National Express stops at Lyndhurst, Lymington and Ringwood from multiple locations, including London Victoria and Heathrow Airport. Bus and Ferry travel is also available from more local locations e.g. Southampton, Christchurch, Salisbury and the Isle of Wight. Find out more about travelling to the New Forest on our website.
Can you drive through the New Forest?
Yes, you can drive through the New Forest. There are many roads that take you through the forest itself and through our towns and villages. There is a standard 40mph speed limit on forest roads and 30mph limit in our towns and villages. Please ensure you drive within the designated speed limits as the open forest has no fences and is full of wandering animals which often cross or walk along roads.
Where can you park in the New Forest?
There are over 100 car parks within the forest, managed by Forestry England. Many are used to access walking and cycling routes. Please note that some of these car parks are seasonal, meaning they are only open in the summer months and closed at dusk. There are also over 50 car parks in our towns and villages operated by New Forest District Council. Please do not park on the verges of forest roads or block any forest gates.
Do you have to pay to park in the New Forest?
It is free to park in the Forestry England car parks, although some do have donation boxes that you can contribute to. The car parks in towns and villages are chargeable, please see our car parks page for more information on the charges in these car parks.
Can you park overnight in the New Forest?
No overnight parking in the New Forest is allowed.
Walking & Cycling in the New Forest
Can you cycle in the New Forest?
Yes, you can cycle in the New Forest, on the 140 miles of approved car free cycle tracks. These are waymarked to help you find your way around the forest. Please stay on track and keep to all waymarked routes. There are lots of suggested cycle routes on our website for you to follow.
Can you walk your dog in the New Forest?
Yes, we are very welcoming to dog walkers in the New Forest. Please ensure that you keep your dog under control and on the footpaths with you, on a lead if necessary. Please ensure your dog does not disturb the wildlife around the paths and please clean up after your dog. If there is no dog bin around the location that you are walking, please take your dog bags home to dispose of them.
Can you walk anywhere in the New Forest?
We advise that you stick to walking on the footpaths and tracks across the forest and do not walk on heathland and grassland as this may disturb natural habitats and wildlife. There are 140 miles of footpaths to choose from, so you are not restricted in exploring the area.
Can I walk in the New Forest?
Yes, you can walk in the New Forest. There are over 140 miles of waymarked cycle tracks and footpaths. We have lots of suggested routes on our website for you to choose from.
Is the New Forest hilly?
The New Forest isn’t a particularly hilly area. There are some raised areas of the New Forest but the forest is mostly flat and low laying. Any hilly areas (mostly in the north) gently rise and fall, there are no steep hills.
New Forest Animals & Nature
What animals live in the New Forest?
The forest has a very large bio-diversity. The most famous being the New Forest Ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs and 5 different types of deer. We are also home to frogs, toads, lizards, newts and other reptiles and amphibians, including all 6 of the UK’s native reptiles. There is also an abundance of birdlife with the New Forest being the breeding ground for 100 species of bird, from birds of prey to ground-nesting and other rare birds. You can also find rabbits, badgers, foxes, moles and other animals in the New Forest too.
Where are the New Forest Ponies?
The New Forest Ponies roam free across the whole forest, so you’ll see them dotted all around the place. You will often find them in areas of open moorland, grazing in small groups, but they may be in other areas too.
How many Ponies are there in the New Forest?
There are currently around 5,000 Ponies in the New Forest.
Are the New Forest Ponies owned?
Yes, the New Forest Ponies are all owned by New Forest Commoners who have the right to graze their ponies (and cattle and donkeys) on the open forest throughout the year.
Can you touch the New Forest Ponies?
No, please do not touch the New Forest Ponies, or any other animal in the New Forest. They may look cute and friendly, but they can be unpredictable and are best treated as wild. Please admire them from a distance.
Can you feed the New Forest Ponies?
No, please do not feed the New Forest Ponies, or any other animal in the New Forest. There is plenty of natural food in the forest for them, and it is best that they don’t come to rely on people’s attention and food giving. Do not approach the ponies, they can be unpredictable.
Who are the New Forest commoners?
New Forest Commoners occupy properties or land in the New Forest that have Common Rights. These rights are not attached to the individuals themselves. The 6 Commoners Rights are Pasture (right to graze), Mast (let out pigs to eat acorns), Marl (right to dig clay), Turbary (right to dig peat peat), Sheep (right to graze) and Estovers (right to fuelwood). Many commoners are descendants of families who have been practicing these rights for centuries. There are currently around 500 New Forest Commoners. Find out more about Commoners on our website.
Staying in the New Forest
Can you camp in the New Forest?
Yes, but only on a formally campsite. No wild camping is allowed in the New Forest. There are lots of fantastic campsites both large and small located within the New Forest. Find out more about these campsites on our website.
Where can you stay in the New Forest?
There are lots of great places to stay in the New Forest, including our award winning hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, self catering properties and cottages, camping, caravan sites and holiday parks. Take a look at all accommodation options on our website.
Can you fly a drone in the New Forest?
You need a formal permission to fly a drone over the New Forest. This is the case for both hobbyists and commercial operators. Around 90% of the New Forest is Crown Land and to fly over it you will need to get permission from Forestry England : email@example.com. If you wish to fly a drone on land owned by the National Trust, you will need to obtain permission from them. If you wish to fly on private land within the forest, you can do so with the landowner’s permission if you adhere to the Civil Aviation Authority’s drone code. The flying of drones (and model aircraft) is strictly controlled to minimize the disturbance to wildlife and people. Some areas may also be within restricted airspace, for details of this please refer to the ‘Drone Safe’ website.
What is there to do in the New Forest?
There is so much to do in the New Forest, from walking and cycling across the forest, to wandering around our towns and villages or along our coastline. There are lots of great visitor attractions too including fabulous gardens at Exbury and Furzey, New Forest Heritage Centre, St Barbe’s Museum and Art Gallery, Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum and Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, historic monuments, Paultons Park - Home of Peppa Pig World and many more. Activities in the New Forest include horse riding, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, sailing, archery, bushcraft, high ropes and more. Lots of our Hotels have excellent spas and leisure facilities. Visit a vineyard or take a bespoke wagon ride, the list is almost endless; check out the huge list of things to do on our website.
Where can I eat and drink in the New Forest?
Visit one of our beautiful, traditional country pubs while you’re here is a must, or wander around our towns and villages, visiting lovely quaint cafes and local shops on the way. There are also lots of fantastic restaurants in the New Forest, offering a whole range of different cuisines. The New Forest is a great place for a picnic too.