The New Forest lies just to the west of Southampton and is a wild part of Hampshire crossed with undulating moorland and forest. Renowned for its beautiful landscapes and complex forests the area is one of the smaller National Parks in the UK, attracting many visitors to explore this amazing part of the country.
Distance 10 miles
Map OS Explorer OL22
My route starts in Brockenhurst, one of the larger villages in the heart of the forest before exploring the land west of the village taking in a combination of woodland and moorland before returning to the village. Brockenhurst is a large village. It is traditional and old in parts with a handful of notable brown thatched roof cottages and red brick cottages thorough the village combined with some modern housing. Often an array of flowers all different and vivid in colour are present in the gardens and on the buildings making the village look beautiful. As one of the main villages in the area, there is a variety of small shops and plenty of tea rooms in the centre. Often wild horses and New Forest Ponies may be seen in the streets of the village. Following the main street and crossing the stone leads past the impressive stone church hidden behind a line of trees with its grand size and tall standing square tower built out of a bright grey stone. Turning right follows the road for a short while before coming onto the open moorland and taking the path through the middle of the field crossing beautiful, short, grassed heathland dotted by bushes and occasional trees. Cattle and New Forest Ponies are everywhere on this moorland with the heath surrounded by trees of great height and shaded green in colour. Crossing the heath, the path enters the woodland.
Property in Brockenhurst
Heathland just outside Brockenhurst
Upon entering the woodland, the first feature is a river crossed by Bolderford Bridge. Various trees overhang the dark brown but clear as river as it flows past. Continuing on just before the gate I turned left to head a small path into the forest. The path is traceable but in many parts crosses dark dense black mud and puddles of water. However, the forest is beautiful with many deciduous species in a canopy of green aligning all around with dark green mossed trunks. It takes time to absorb the forest and its awe. The route continues over a bridge before coming to a major gold coloured track where I turned left. The path crosses a Poundhill Heath, a beautiful small open stretch lined with dark purple bracken scattering the landscape with the occasional flowering trees and always enclosed by the dense forest. Passing onward the track follows into woodland with long pine trees rising with a moss covered floor either side of the track with occasional other patches of bracken, and small deciduous trees in parts of the track. The route is amazing and in a short distance has such variety. Turning left to follow track with the sign warning of a ford this passes slightly less dense forest filled with more New Forest Ponies. The track swings left then turns right with patches of open heathland before crossing the ford and continuing in beauty to the next road and turning left. Here the route passes The parkland and impressive Rhinefield House, a sizable grey stone blocked building with a tower on one side, ornately decorated and having numerous clay chimney pots with a clear open grass clearing with ornate trees in the area. This is now a hotel. Continuing past and back into the forest and at the next path on the right which emerges onto moorland.
New Forest Pony
Woodland just after the ford
The moorland section of this route is filled with beauty right from the start with immediately the landscape opening up. The landscape is filled with texture and colour with patches of straw coloured grass amongst a deep purple bracken with occasional bushes and other plants emerging from the ground. The route follows the treeline rightward and over a very swampy boggy ground giving a good atmosphere to this walk. The forest is never far away and the diversity can be seen thorough this both near and afar. Taking the next path on the left took me on the main track crossing Wilverly Plain initially descending down into a small section of moss filled wood to cross a bridge over a stream. The path was clear and headed upward over the bracken landscape with an interesting with contrasting shades of tone. The area is bleak but beautiful. Continuing onward the path heads to the road and crosses it directly. The moorland is a very interesting part of the route with good views before continuing into Hincheslea Wood. Heading left in the small clearing after the first bit of woodland, the route I went took a path inward passing the dense forest with its many varieties of trees and a small pool before emerging on a track close to a property. Turning right then after a few hundred yards turning left takes another track leading out of the wood on the east side. From here the path goes across long grassed, boggy moorland before turning left at the next crossroads on the path. The route now heads back to Brockenhurst taking a footbridge then heading continually right until meeting a road. By carrying straight on at all opportunities leads to a footpath crossing fields and following a small stream before turning right to take the road back to the church in Brockenhurst.
Moorland just after the road
Bridge over stream crossing before Wilverley Plain
The New Forest is an amazing and diverse unique landscape in the south and is wild. The forests are dense green and hold a variety of species both coniferous and deciduous in this magnificent environment juxtaposed by wild moorland and its array of colour and bracken with marvellous views both near and far with numerous wild horses roaming. The forest is beautiful and very distinct and a great place to walk. There are many great places to explore and adventures to have in the New Forest.