With the days beginning to get longer and warmer, spring is the perfect time to visit the New Forest. Watch the forest come back to life as the spring months progress and the colours start to bloom across our beautiful woodlands and breathtaking heathlands. You’ll especially want to experience the beauty of the bluebells; cobalt blue on acid green, pouring their scent into the air from the forest’s floor. Spot them at Clayhill Heath near Lyndhurst and Broomy Inclosure north of Linwood in late April to early May.
Then come the leaves of delicate, vibrant, green throughout the ancient and ornamental woodlands, the flare of the yellow gorse on the heath.
Enjoy some fresh air on an active break
Spring is an ideal time to get active and where better to do so than in the New Forest?
Pack your walking boots and embark on one of our many walking trails. Whether you just fancy a short stroll around one of our towns or villages or perhaps a long distance trail which takes you into the heart of the open forest, there is plenty of choice on offer. You will love seeing the fresh greens of the leaves and the sounds of nature, the perfect antidote to modern day life. Why not pick a route which passes you by some of our ancient bluebell woods? A photographer’s dream! Or find out more about the stunning New Forest in the spring on a guided walk with Wild New Forest?
Hire a bike from one of our cycle hire shops that you will find around the National Park and wind your way along some of the off-road cycling routes. For families, The Old Railway from Brockenhurst along the disused railway line is a popular choice.
Take to our waters by kayaking along the Beaulieu River with New Forest Activities - perfect for a bit of wildlife spotting or learn how to use a stand up paddleboard from Keyhaven with the New Forest Paddle Sport Company.
See if you can spot some of our new arrivals
Quite often during spring you can spot some of the newly born New Forest pony foals wandering around the forest, a welcome sight but please keep your distance, as their mothers are very protective!
However a real hands on animal experience can be had at Longdown Activity Farm, younger visitors can enjoy meeting chicks, calves and kid goats with opportunities to hand-feed some of the animals at selected times.
Stay under canvas
If you love the outdoors then there’s nothing better than to go camping. Many of our campsites in the New Forest open up for the season in early spring, so why not book a stay at one and explore all that the New Forest has to offer? Think starry nights, cooking over a gas stove and wildlife literally on your doorstep and you’ll get the picture.
Take in the colours of our gardens
Exbury Gardens is an ideal place to visit during spring. The gardens here are internationally-renowned for their beautiful displays of colourful rhododendrons and azaleas. Pinks, reds, oranges and purples… just don’t forget to bring your camera along! The miniature steam railway is another great addition to the gardens and is a relaxing way to take in the sights.
Furzey Gardens also bursts into life in the spring with a large display of crocuses, daffodils and bluebells followed by a colourful collection of rhododendrons and azaleas.
The Wilderness Garden at Beaulieu is awash with colour during the spring; starting with masses of snowdrops. Later in the season look out for displays of daffodils and crocuses before the nectarine blossoms. Late April - May is the perfect time to see the stunning wisteria and laburnum tunnel in the Victorian Flower Garden and for children to play in the Little Beaulieu play area within the grounds.
Visit some of our family friendly attractions
During spring, many of our family friendly attractions open up for the season. Anyone with an interest in nature should head to the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst. Take a look at the pods that contain grass snakes and other reptiles which begin to come out of hibernation at this time of the year and speak to the friendly wardens and volunteers about nature in the New Forest.
Starting in April is the daily feeding of the fallow deer by the Forestry England rangers at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. Head to the deer viewing platform between 12.30pm-2.30pm to see the feeding take place. There are a number of scenic walking trails that you can also take from the main car park at Bolderwood.
What better way to treat yourself than enjoying one of our luxurious spa days in the New Forest. Pamper yourself in some gorgeous surroundings and soak up the relaxing surroundings of the New Forest. You can choose from a number of spa hotels such as Careys Manor, Lime Wood and Chewton Glen.
If you are just here for a day trip then treat yourself by having a spa day (most of our spa hotels will offer day passes for non-residents) or why not indulge in an afternoon tea, the perfect way to relax in the spring sunshine?
If the weather doesn’t play ball…
Then don’t let that put you off visiting the New Forest in spring. You will find plenty of things to do indoors including visiting our museums and historic houses or enhancing your culinary skills at one of our cookery schools. Take a look at our rainy day ideas for more inspiration.
Top things to do in spring in the New Forest
1.Walk and learn with Wild New Forest. Book onto a wonderful guided walk with their friendly expert guides who have a love for all of the magical nature in the New Forest. Learn about ancient trees, prehistoric plants, wild deer, free roaming ponies and so much more. Wild New Forest holds multiple guided walking events a week and are welcome to any bespoke guided walk needs too!
2. Visit an actual spring! What better way to celebrate spring than to take the kids to SEE one? Iron Well near Fritham – also named as Chalybeate, meaning ‘a natural spring with iron salts’ – bubbles out of the ground, a strange red colour. Also known as Leper’s Well, the waters were said to cure the deadly disease. More recently it was believed they could cure dogs of the mange but we wouldn’t recommend dunking Fido or sampling the well water itself! Far better – if you fancy some genuine local H2O – to seek out the New Forest Marque New Forest Spring Water Ltd at South Gorley, which looks – and tastes – much better!
3. Take a train trip to horticultural heaven. There is a reason that the gardens of Exbury are considered by many as ‘heaven with the gates open’. Their collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, not to mention spring bulbs, is considered one of the best in the world. And spring is the season to see them. A trip on their miniature train gives a stately view – HM the Queen is one of its biggest fans! – and then take time to wander through the gardens and take it all in again.
4. Stand amongst the bluebells and just breathe… More than 50 per cent of the world’s bluebell population are found in England and the New Forest has more than its fair share of them. But you’ll have to be quick as they only last a few weeks. For the ultimate olfactory experience (not to mention the stunning contrast of bright green and ultramarine) get along to Broomy Inclosure near Exbury, Roydon Woods and Sandleheath near Fordingbridge, and Pondhead Inclosure near Lyndhurst.
5. Spend the day at BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair at Beaulieu. Get those green fingers inspired by wonderful floral displays, planting ideas and loads more gardening experiences and top-tips. All held within the beautiful grounds of Beaulieu.
6. Enjoy the fun of the farm at Longdown. Spring is the time Longdown Activity Farm reopens for the season to show off all its new arrivals; including lambs, ducklings, calves and Easter chicks. Add to this plenty of undercover play areas – like their straw barn and the chance of a bumpy tractor and trailer ride and you’re set fair for a real spring experience.
7. Go foal spotting! It’s one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see. Watch the most adorable foals as they wobble and skip their way across heathlands and grasslands in the New Forest. Please note, our New Forest ponies are very protective of their young. So don’t get too close and NEVER get between a mother and her offspring.
8. Try a little pond dipping. Got your net, wellies and plastic bucket? (and something nice to nibble along the way?). Then you’re all set to find out what lurks beneath the tranquil waters of our ponds and waterways. Spring is a time of frog and toadspawn (Can you tell the difference?) and of many bugs emerging into the sun. We have more than 1,000 ponds, not to mention streams, waterways and bogs. Favourite spots include Janesmoor Pond at Fritham. Wherever you go, however, always supervise children and never get out of your depth.