… you will be if you come to the New Forest!

Winter in the New Forest is a magical time of frosted, rustling leaves, wild pink and orange sunsets, starry skies and roaring fires in our pubs and restaurants. The bare landscape makes it easier to spot our ponies and deer, too, as well as foxes and owls. All of these reasons make Winter a great time to come and explore our beautiful wildlife!

The New Forest is also the perfect place to walk off all that festive indulgence and grab some fresh air during Twixmas – the time between Christmas Day and the New Year.

You could even use this time to steal a march on your New Year resolution to become more fit because we have walks for everyone - young, older, and people who need accessibility, including the trails at Bolderwood, Rufus Stone and Knightwood Oak, which will take you to visit one of our most venerable trees.

The Sea Air Trail is 5.5 miles long and will take you from Lymington to Keyhaven nature reserve where not only can you enjoy some amazing views across to the Solent and the Isle of Wight, but an abundance of wildlife, including some wintering birds. If you want to venture further still, take a turn about Hurst Spit or Milford-on-Sea.

Super-fit (or keen!) walkers could attempt the 34-mile Avon Valley Path from Salisbury to Christchurch Harbour. As its name suggests, this route follows the meanderings of the River Avon, passing through the lovely towns of Fordingbridge and Ringwood.

Or why not go the whole hog and do all – or part – of The Solent Way?

It’s a 60-mile route from Milford-on-sea to Emsworth Harbour which follows the waterway, passing through Lymington, Beaulieu and Hythe. If you don’t fancy doing either of these routes in their entirety then it is possible to break them down into shorter, more manageable walks and take in some beautiful winter views.

Another great place for a winter wander is the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Blashford Lakes nature reserve in the Avon Valley, near Ringwood. Here, huge flocks of overwintering birds fly onto the lakes to roost during the winter months.

Dogs are allowed off the lead in the majority of the New Forest, although they must be prevented from approaching ponies or wildlife, and most of our pubs and even some of our restaurants welcome furry friends, so no one needs to miss out.

If the forecast is good (or you are just very hardy) why not combine your walk with a winter barbecue?

Pop some hot soup in a flask, grab the sausages and rolls (or buy some extras from our New Forest Marque butchers) and head out to Bolderwood which has a large, designated picnic area amongst the trees, with some of the tables allowing for disposable BBQs.

You can hire special barbecue hearths at Anderwood and Wilverley as well as

Lepe Country Park. Just don’t forget the marshmallows to toast!

Raised, non-disposable BBQs are allowed on the gravel of Forestry Commission car parks which means you can really pick your spot and base a walk around it.

Try and identify the bare winter trees by their shapes or follow animal tracks in the mud – ponies, deer and even fox footprints can be seen.

If it’s dark and clear, plan a real adventure and do a night-time walk. Park up at one of our heathland car-parks one evening (just don’t forget your torch!) and enjoy our heavenly skies.

Nearly 90% of the New Forest’s skies are in the three darkest categories, which make us the perfect place to see the Milky Way, spot Orion and the annual winter meteor showers. Pure winter magic.

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