The New Forest


Lepe Lighthouse, New Forest, England  (Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

Lepe Lighthouse, New Forest, England (Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

Looking for some Great British adventure inspiration? You're in the right place. Here you'll get an independent, ad-free lowdown on Britain's top 50 adventure locations - the online yin to the paper yang of our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map.

Why Go To The New Forest?

The unhelpfully named New Forest (not new, not many trees) is really rather good. Just some of the things you can do in the New Forest that you can't do anywhere else...

  • Explore Europe's biggest area of heathland
  • Get great views to the Isle of Wight as you amble about near the coast
  • Mutter expletives from your car at the wild ponies blocking the road, then at yourself as you realise they're all part of the charm

Want to find out more? Read on for great photos, articles, videos, top tips and other content to fire up your adventure appetite. Got a question? Ask away.

Tell Me More

The New Forest may be Europe's biggest area of heathland (infertile, acidic soils with low-growing woody vegetation, if you're wondering), but it’s not new and it’s not a forest: it just means ‘new hunting ground’ as named by William the Conqueror in 1079. Great walks and cycling, a coastline with great views to the Isle of Wight, and wild ponies strolling around nonchalantly wherever they like, even on the roads, as if they own the place. Perhaps they do. Highest point: Pipers Wait (129m).

Rockford Common, New Forest, England  (Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

Rockford Common, New Forest, England (Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

Unlike most of Britain's Top 50 Adventure Locations, there may not be a single essential journey in the New Forest. It may be a complete cop-out to say just go for a walk, a bike ride and / or a horse ride somewhere around the New Forest... but that's pretty much what we're saying! There's actually some good intel in the links towards the bottom of the page, and if you've got a better suggestion, please get in touch - we'd love to hear it.

Short but good...

Getting To The New Forest, Maps & Guides

Getting there: 1.5 hours by car from Bristol, 2 from London.

Travel times from where you are: See the New Forest on Google Maps.

Maps: Find the right Ordnance Survey maps and / or get a month's free subscription to their excellent OS Maps app.

Guidebooks: Bradt's New Forest guide, or the Rough Guide to Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Walking route guidance: This guide from Visit New Forest.

Tourist board: Visit New Forest.

More New Forest Adventure Inspiration

New Forest ponies  (David R Thompson/Shutterstock)

New Forest ponies (David R Thompson/Shutterstock)

As intros to the New Forest go, the Ordnance Survey's is a great start. This article from Wanderlust gives a good feel for the place too.

The Telegraph rather insistently offers no less than 10 reasons why you MUST visit the New Forest this year, focusing on family adventures - and we're including that because adventures are for families too.

For something a little less pushy, Roger Deakin's excellent book Wildwood includes a chapter on the New Forest.

What Next?

Click here to see 49 other Great British adventure locations and tell us about your adventures, plans and suggestions for these pages.

Britain's Best Outdoorsy Bits... Mapped!

Liking what you see, but fancy keeping it old school with an actual paper map? Our Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map features all of Britain's best outdoorsy bits (including the Top 50), plus some enjoyably random and vaguely useful stuff too. Available either as a 2-sided fold-out map or a framed wall map (office furniture and fake plants not included).