How To Enjoy An Active Weekend In And Around New Forest
Offering an abundance of walking routes, cycling trails, canoeing and kayaking opportunities, as well as nearby beaches, New Forest is the perfect location for those seeking outdoor pursuits this summer. We’ve rounded up the highlights if you enjoy a more active getaway.
Walking is one of the best ways to enjoy woodlands, charming villages and coastal scenes in New Forest and there’s a whole variety of routes to choose from; including shorter strolls and more challenging trails. Here are some of our favourites.
Burley village walk
A 4.2-mile route, this walk is perfect for all fitness levels if you’re yearning for some fresh air. It starts in the centre of the village and follows a circular loop to the very edge. Castle Hill Lane offers views across Avon Valley, passing the ancient hill fort and leading you back along the open forest. If you get peckish, stop at The Queen’s Head pub on the route and kick back for a while.
Lymington circular walk
If you’re seeking river views and a glimpse of the coastal marshes and lagoons, this is the route for you. Spanning across the Quayside, you’ll pass the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve and enjoy a variety of wildlife and local birds. The terrain is mostly flat through salt marsh and this is one of the Several Rail Trail options running from Brockenhurst or Lymington.
Brockenhurst village walk
Brockenhurst is well-loved for being one of the most charming villages in New Forest, surrounded by scenic landscapes. This walk is varied and you’ll span across riverside woodlands and heathlands for about 5 miles. Generally considered an easy route, it is the ideal way to spend a summer afternoon and you’ll return directly back to the village.
Canoeing and kayaking
Amongst the outdoor activities on offer in The National Park, New Forest Activities provides popular pursuits with expert instructors on hand to guide you. If you love getting on the water, try canoeing or kayaking on the Beaulieu River during your weekend away. Choose from a range of river tours, whether you’re seeking something family-friendly, group orientated or a woman’s only opportunity, they offer it all. There are also options suitable for beginners and those already familiar with the sports.
The National Park is full of peaceful country lanes for off-road cycling, as well as over 100 miles of marked cycle tracks across the Crown Lands of the Forest. If you are looking for a day out, as opposed to a whole weekend away, it’s easy to hop off a train from London and go for a cycle ride.
If you don’t have your own bike, we’d recommend stopping off at Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley, who offer cycle hire, sales, repairs and servicing. Situated in the centre of Burley, it’s perfectly located with a number of trails to take on nearby. They’ll recommend nine routes they’ve handpicked for families, beginners and more adventurous cyclists.
The Old Railway
With the option for a 5, 11 or 18-mile ride, this route can be tailored as you wish and it’s one of the most popular in the area. There are several places to stop along the way too; including The Cider Pantry, The Station House Tea Rooms and The Rising Sun.
The Linwood Loop
An extension of the ever-popular Deer Sanctuary route, this cycle spans 20 miles, so it’s great if you’re looking for a real workout. It’ll take you to the very edge of the National Park and there’s two favoured pubs if you fancy a refreshment; the High Corner Inn and the Red Shoot Inn.
The Hill Fort
If you’re after a ride that follows calm, leafy lanes, as well as part of the gravel old railway track, this is a 9-mile ride to dedicate your afternoon to. It’ll pass by streams at Mill Lane and you can stop at The White Buck Inn for a break en route.
Make a weekend of it…
Stay at Piglets, Burley
Burley is the perfect location for your weekend base, with cycling and walking routes on your doorstep, as well as a selection of beaches just a 20-minute drive away.
Tucked away down a quiet, charming lane just a short walk from the village, Piglets is a refined yet welcoming cottage that sleeps up to four people. With a garden for al fresco evenings and BBQs, a spacious kitchen for cooking, hosting and eating in, as well as a cosy lounge with an open fire, this is a must-stay for every single season. Expect to also enjoy free-roaming ponies and donkeys on your doorstep and during autumn, you’ll even spot roving pigs – hence the cottage’s name.
Head to the sea
There are a number of beaches close to the New Forest, including Barton on Sea and Avon Beach. Our main recommendation would be to head to Mudeford Quay near Christchurch and take the ferry boat across to Mudeford Spit, where you can walk over the headland – Hengistbury Head – and you’ll enjoy unrivalled views across the bay.
Have dinner at The Three Tuns
With gardens that overlook the village of Burley, The Three Tuns is a cosy pub that is a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike – and for good reason. The menus are accessible yet creative, revolving around fresh local produce with ever-changing specials. It also offers some of the best Ringwood awarded ales and ciders, so add this to your evening agenda for a relaxed dining and drinking experience.