Short walks in the New Forest

Discover three of the best short walks for families in the New Forest National Park

Famed for its ponies, picturesque towns and beautiful heathland, the New Forest is a popular place to enjoy a staycation, and it’s easy to see why. There are hundreds of different walks to try here, but if you’re visiting for the day or just a weekend, you might not want to take on one of the longer routes.

Here are three of the best short walks in this stunning part of Hampshire, all of which are ideal for walkers young and old. Let’s take a look at them.

Holm Hill walk

This pretty walk will take you up and over Holm Hill, near Brockenhurst and Rhinefield. There are no steep climbs on this route, and it will only take you 1.5 hours or so to complete.

You’ll start in Whitefield Moor car park. Walk out of the front entrance of the car park and cross the road on to the sandy track. Follow this path until you see a larger one that’s much clearer. Turn right onto this new track.

Eventually you’ll reach an area of wetland, most of which is sealed off by a fence. Turn right after you’ve gone over the ‘bridge’ onto a narrow gravel track. As you walk up this path you’ll begin your ascension up the hill. Make sure you take some time to look around – you may be able to see Rhinefield House peeking through the trees.

Stay on this path, walking past the edge of the woodland at the top of the hill. The number of trees on your right will slowly reduce, at which point you need to look out for a split in the path. Turn off the main path onto the new, narrower one on your right.

You’ll stay on this track for a while and pass pine trees, cross a river and head through a large gate. Once you’ve gone through a gate, you’ll see another just like it straight ahead. Walk in its direction but then head right at the crossroads just before it. Stay on this road until you reach yet another gate – go through this one and cross the road.

This marks the final leg of your journey; head down the path and turn right when you can. You should be able to see the car park from here.

Lyndhurst’s old race ground

This gorgeous walk takes you from Lyndhurst village centre to the grassland which used to form part of the old race ground and past the golf course. It’s an easy enough walk, only spanning 2.5 miles, but in wet weather there are some sections that can get quite muddy, so take good boots!

From Lyndhurst village centre, walk along Romsey Road near the top of the high street. You’ll know if you’re going the right way if you pass King’s Close and a thatched cottage on your left. Keep going down this road until you start to see the grasslands of the old race grounds in front of you. To get onto the grassland, you’ll need to head down Racecourse View and go through the gate there.

From this gate, you’ll need to take a slight left towards a drainage channel. Take the path that runs along the fence and leads to a lay-by entrance, then walk across the grasslands towards a small gap in the trees. It’s here you’ll pass the golf course, and stand of good chance of spotting some interesting flora and fauna.

Eventually you’ll reach a strip of woodland and the Beaulieu River – turn right and follow the edge of the wood. Keep heading in this direction, passing a gravel track on your left and a golf course green, which you’ll walk along the edge of. You’ll then see yet another turning on your left – ignore it and keep going, following the boundary of the golf course as it sweeps round to the right. It’s here you need to cross the approach road and walk until you reach a clubhouse.

When you’re at the far end of the clubhouse’s car park, take a left into the woodland, then turn right, walking between two earthy banks which run alongside each other. Turn left when you reach a T-junction of paths and cross the short bridge – you should be able to see a gate across the grassland. Heading through this will take you back to Racecourse View, so you’ll be able to find your way back to the village centre easily.

Millyford Bridge triangular trek

This family-friendly walk by Baby Routes is perfect for parents who want to get their little ones outside and exploring nature. It should take around two hours to complete and will take you past some fascinating landmarks, including the oldest tree in the New Forest, a very special Portuguese fireplace and the New Forest Reptile Centre.

Start your trek from the Millyford Bridge car park just west of Lyndhurst. Head to the car park’s entrance and cross over the road to the grassy common opposite. Walk along the common whilst following the roadside – you’ll soon spot the Portuguese Fireplace. To the right of the fireplace you’ll see a path which runs parallel to the road; follow it and go through the gate.

Keep walking along this track – eventually you’ll reach a pond, which may interest the kids! Bear left here and keep following the path, which will eventually lead you into the car park for the New Forest Reptile Centre. Feel free to stop here and take a look.

When you’re ready to continue, turn left off the path you were on and walk past the centre’s enclosures, heading towards the gate. Go through it and pass the white cottage on your left. Once you’ve done so you should be able to see a path on the opposite side of the road – take it and walk across the heathland.

Now that you’re on the other side, you’ll need to turn right and follow the hedge boundary until you see a wooden footbridge. Cross it and stay on the path, ignoring the fence on your left. When you’re at the edge of the forest, take a right and follow the fence. You’ll then reach a fence – go through it and follow the path on the other side.

In the upcoming glade you’ll see the Knightwood Oak on your right-hand side, which is believed to be the oldest tree in the New Forest (and one of the biggest). Keep following the path you were on until you exit the forest – you’ll see Knightwood Oak car park opposite. Turn right here and follow the road, walking past the car park’s entrance. Keep a look out for a small path on the right side of the road, as you’ll need to take this back into the forest. Stay on this track until it joins a gravel one; turn right at the gravel path and follow it until you reach the pond you passed at the start of the walking. You should be able to find your way back easily from there!

There you have it – three fantastic short walks for you to enjoy the next time you visit the New Forest. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments!