Bike exploring: The New Forest

Helen Pollard By Helen Pollard

Length

19 km / 12 miles

Duration

3 hrs  15 m

#GetOutside Champions adventure

Easy difficulty

In the village

Brockenhurst New Forest Loop. Just under 12 miles of easy going forest trails and tarmac. A great all year ride, perfect for families. The route starts and stops in the pretty little town of Brockenhurst.

Start
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This was our first trip to the New Forest National Park which is an area of southern England which includes one of the largest remaining sections of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest.

After spending two exciting days learning about Ordnance Survey’s #Get Outside project we were keen to explore the New Forest for the first time. If we lived in the Forest we would have rights to turn out pigs between September and November to eat fallen acorns. However as visitors we decided to explore on bikes instead. We brought our own bikes with us, however there are numerous bike hire points nearby like New Forest Cycle Hire.

We chose to follow a route started from the village of Brockenhurst. This is a large, attractive village lying just a few miles south of Lyndhurst. According to the guide book Brockenhurst, means "badgers home" in Celtic. Further we learnt that ponies, donkeys and cows roam freely, and drink from the watersplash at the bottom of the main street on their way to graze the open heathland and ancient woods that surround the village. True to its word as soon as we set off we saw Donkeys in somebody drive!

The first section of the ride involves a short section of road riding along the A337. As it is a busy road, younger riders should be closely supervised during this section. However, the route quickly turns off onto dedicated gravel tracks. To leave the A337 turn right off into a car park marked Hollands Wood campsite. The campsite, although closed when were visited, looked an ideal base from which to explore in the summer

Following a clearly marked route you leave the tarmac of the campsite onto designated cycle tracks. There are many routes you can follow through the forest with numbered way markers throughout. We chose a circular route back to Brockenhurst.

At this time of year, it was muddy with plenty of filled water ditches which in Daisy’s eyes added to the fun.

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This is just over 1/2 way round our loop. A great point for a pit stop and ideal to get close to some of the local ponies. Please note they should not be petted or fed. However, they don't mind a photo or two. As we went further into the forest you couldn't fail to notice how incredible tranquil the surroundings were, and we were lucky enough to see Deer hiding in the trees.

The only invasion into this peaceful scene was when we travelled over the main line railway which actually turned out to be one of Daisy highlights as we were waved and honked at by the friendly train driver.

We ended out ride with a short stretch of road cycling back into the village of Brockenhurst. There was a wide selection of coffee shops and other places to recharge and refresh after our ride.

This route was a great family friendly bike route manageable on most types of bikes and could easily accommodate a bike trailer for young children.

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Helen Pollard By Helen Pollard

About:

Helen is not elite, just very ordinary making an adventure out of living and working in beautiful Wensleydale.

Helen never excelled at traditional PE at school but found enjoyment in the outdoor activities and swimming. As a teacher for many years, Helen discovered that the most disengaged and challenging young people and children were at their best muddy, wet and out of the classroom.

Although her life has moved on, her belief in the importance of doing something outside everyday has grown. Helen now spends her days, managing a cycling business, chasing her daughter Daisy, running with dogs, falling off her bike, and hopefully encouraging others to do something similar.

You can read about Helen's adventures here.

Twitter:@Stage1Cycles Instagram: @stage1cycles

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