In FamilyCycling

The days are longer, the weather’s better – no wonder summer is the best time to get onto the New Forest’s tracks, highways and by-ways.

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, here are some of the best ways we know, to enjoy the New Forest on two wheels.

1. Best for … coastal views – Looping Lepe and Exbury

This nine-miler will see you travel along the National Park’s gentle coastline before heading inland. As you leave Lepe Country Park, turn left and follow the road along the coast enjoying the great views over the Solent to the Isle of Wight. As the road begins to turn inland there is a junction. Turn left and head along Inchmery Lane following the road towards Exbury.
 

2. Best for… exploring the northern Forest – Wiltshire to the New Forest

This route, mainly on roads, is a shade under seven miles and starts in the next county at the centre of Downton village. Follow the by-ways to Nomansland in the New Forest, with a few hills on the way and plenty of nice views too, giving an excellent chance to see across this special area of the New Forest
 

3. Best for… car-free gravel tracks and people who love a good pond - Lyndhurst to Hatchet Pond

Hatchet Pond is the largest body of water in the open New Forest and this eight-mile route gives you plenty of chance to see its transformation from 18th century power source for a grain mill to wildlife magnet. Best of all, the ride is all on gravel tracks, save the last half mile!
 

4. Best for… lovers of folklore - Burley Hill Fort loop

Just over nine miles long, this route comes with a lot of tales and yarns, from Burley’s many witch stories to the legend of smuggling in the area. It starts at the Queen’s Head pub and takes you to Castle Hill, an Iron Age hill fort. On a clear day you can see all the way to Bournemouth and beyond, including planes on their approach to the airport at Hurn.
 

5. Best for… Big, beautiful trees – Brockenhurst to Rhinefield

This 11-mile route will take you along the famous Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, where the New Forest’s tallest trees (giant sequoias) live. You’ll continue into the woodland on Forestry Commission managed gravel tracks and will get to see the wildlife Conservation Area at Queen’s Meadow as it takes you towards Lyndhurst. This ride is great for those who don’t like hills!
 

6. Best for… No traffic and some World War II history - Hawkhill Trail

A nine-miler, this route starts at Roundhill Campsite and takes you past some surviving parts of Beaulieu Airfield with some very visible evidence of its WWII past. There’s no traffic so it makes a great route for those with younger riders in their group.
 

7. Best for…Open views of the Forest - Ashurst to Lyndhurst Loop

This 14 mile-ride starts at Ashurst railway station and although it’s mainly on roads, it gives some of the best open views that the Forest has to offer while travelling through two thriving New Forest villages.
 

8. Best for… Train lovers – The Old Railway

Starting at Brockenhurst train station, this nine-mile route follows  'Castleman’s Corkscrew'. It’s a delightfully-named disused railway line, so called because of the shape it cut across the forest and in honour of Charles Castleman, who promoted it.
 

9. Best for…. Villages, views and vales

This ride is a little under 15 miles and takes you through the aforementioned delights, starting at Burley village bus stop. The route is one of 11 developed with local cycle hire companies for use on GPS devices, including the Garmin Edge. No written instructions are currently available, but you can still download the PDF map or click 'Download GPX' to add this to your cycle sat nav for turn by turn directions.
 

10. Best for… foodies – The South Taste Trail

The South Taste Trail is around seven miles and starts near to the railway station in Brockenhurst, taking you through the picture perfect scenery to Burley along the old railway line. There are quaint tea-rooms in both Burley and Brockenhurst to grab a yummy snack, as well as opportunities to pick up some scrumptious New Forest treats along the way.

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