The New forest is a national park located in southern England, and where you find National park, you will most likely find great walks. It is home to some of the tallest trees in England, some of the wettest ground I have so far walked, and lots of wildlife. The New forest is also famous for the ponies (more on that later).
Every walk I will be talking to you about today is accessible by train or bus. No car needed. Actually, there is one which has no bus or train access but I walked there, so still no car is needed.
What to expect when walking in the New Forest
You might think that as it’s a forest, it’s all forest woodland walks. Well, not exactly. Yes, there are a lot of trails taking you through woodland, but there is also a lot of open space. The New Forest is made up of ancient woodland, heathland and wetland over an area of 556 sq km.
The New Forest walks I will be telling you about today cover all. Walks through dense forest, along tree lined trails and through tree tunnels. Across open fields of heathland, wetland and a golf courses. Walks to and around ancient villages. Long walks, short walks, circular walks and linear walks. Walks on dirt trails, grass trails, mud trails, bike trails, and asphalt.
Basically, there should be a walk for everyone.
Will I see the New Forest Ponies on any of these walks?
You may have already heard about the wild ponies of the New Forest. Well, technically they aren’t wild, they do have owners, but they are allowed to roam freely. As such I would find it very very strange if you didn’t encounter some of these ponies when walking in the New Forest. They are everywhere.
How do I know these are the best New Forest walks?
Are these the best walks in the New Forest? It’s all subjective. What I think is best might not be best for you. And I certainly haven’t done every walk possible in the New Forest, which is why I plan to go back lots to explore more, and keep updating this list.
What I do hope is that by reading this list, you will find at least one that sings out to you. One that you would call best. Then I have done my job.
Every walk I talk about will have a link to the full guide with more detailed logistics, a map, and a step by step route description with photos. Some of them are specific known routes, some I kind of made up. Anyway, I have talked enough now. Let’s get into it. Starting from the shortest and working up….
9 Best walks in the New Forest National Park
1) Tall Trees trail – One of the most popular walks in the New Forest
Distance: 1.5miles Time: 30min Difficulty: Easy Type: Circular
As the name suggests, this walk is amongst very tall trees. The tallest trees in the New Forest, and some of the tallest trees in England. It’s quite a well known walk in the area, thus is the most crowded walk on this list.
I wouldn’t overlook it because of this though. Those trees are damn impressive.
It’s a very people friendly walk, with an easy short trail, information boards and a car park. There are other trails around this area such as the Aboretum trail. So there is more for you to do if you do drive here, and want to walk more than 1 mile.
This is the one walk on the list which doesn’t have public transport. So if you don’t want to drive, you could make it into a longer walk by walking there from Lyndhurst or Brockenhurst.
Read more: The tall trees trail – full guide
Note: The full blog post is about walking there from Brockenhurst, but I do also talk specifically about the tall trees trail section.
2) Hollands Wood walk – The campsite
Distance: 1.5 miles Time: 30min Difficulty: Easy Type: Circular
This walk takes you through a campsite. Something I didn’t realise until I got there. As I was there during winter, there were no campers, and I would probably recommend you do this one when the campsite is closed (the winter months).
Located just outside Brockenhurst Village, and full of well kept paths, this walk is perfect if you aren’t into big walks and want a bit of woodland vibe without getting your feet (too) wet.
It does run alongside a main road, but that’s the compromise made for accessibility.
If you want to move further from the road, and don’t mind getting your feet (more) wet, then there are options to walk out of the campsite and deeper into the woods, or out onto the grassy marshland.
Read more: Hollands Wood – full guide
3) Ashurst to Lyndhurst – A nice mixed walking route in the New Forest
Distance: 4.6 miles Time: 2h15min Difficulty: Easy Type: Linear
This walk takes you along grassy carpet like trails lined with some very tall trees, some open fields of marshland, a small amount of woods, and a golf course. I would say it’s a very pleasant length. 4 miles is enough to feel like you have a good solid walk, but short enough that it doesn’t take up your whole day. You can walk in either direction, but I would suggest starting at Ashurst in the morning, so you finish at Lyndhurst in time for a good lunch. Then you have the rest of the day to explore Lyndhurst.
Ashurst has a train station with links to Southampton, Brockenhurst and Lymington. Lyndhurst doesn’t, however it is simple to get to by bus. There is also short bus journey linking Ashurst and Lyndhurst.
Read more: Ashurst to Lyndhurst – full guide
4) Brockenhurst Village walk – The one with possible donkey in middle of road sightings
Distance: 5 miles Time: 1h 45m Difficulty: Easy Type: Circular
This walk takes you on a circular around Brockenhurst village. It’s a specific known route and is a mix of high street, woodland and marshland. It’s a nice easy little walk with pony and possibly donkey sightings. Actually, I think it’s the only one of these New Forest walks that I saw Donkeys.
You will also get to see a phenomenon known as a watersplash ford, where you can watch the cars get scared away. I suspect it’s the tourists that get scared. The locals probably don’t care.
This walk has the benefit of starting and finishing at the train station, so you could do it and then hop on the train to go and explore other areas of the New Forest…or you could just stay put and head to the pub.
Read more: Brockenhurst Village circular – full guide
5) Brockenhurst to Lymington walk – The one with risk of floods
Distance: 7 miles Time: 3h Difficulty: Medium Type: Linear
Of all the walks I have done in the New Forest, this was the wettest. With some sections of the trail completely flooded and impassable. I tried to pass by one section by climbing up the bank and got myself a big cut on barbed wire. Which then reminded me I wasn’t up to date on my tetanus shot. What I’m trying to get at is, maybe don’t do this one if it has been raining recently.
Read more: Tips for hiking in the rain and wet weather
Otherwise it’s a lovely walk, with the usually woodland, fields and ponies. Of all the walks I have done in the New Forest, it probably was the least foresty. A little more English countryside vibes.
This walk is the only point to point one on the list, you could easily make it circular though if you want to make a full day of it. You don’t even need to decide now. You could go an do it, then see how you feel, as both Lymington and Brockenhurst have a train station with a direct link.
Read more: Brockenhurst to Lymington – full guide
6) Lyndhurst Parish walk – The walk with the cutest homes in the New Forest
Distance: 9 miles Time: 3h 45m Difficulty: Easy Type: Circular
This walk in the New Forest takes around around the parish boundary. As such, you can easily shorten the walk to get back into the town centre. It is one of 2 official New Forest walks on this list (by that I mean, one that I didn’t make up).
You will walk through the usual woodland and open fields, and pass by surrounding hamlets with cute houses, giving a charming feel to the walk. There is a pub en route for a little refreshment break. Ponies will also most likely feature on this walk.
Lyndhurst doesn’t have a train station, but you can get a bus with links to Southampton, Brockenhurst and Lymmington. Each of which have direct trains from London Waterloo.
Read more: Lyndhurst Parish circular – full guide
7) Brockenhurst to Blackwater and the tall trees trail – To see the tallest trees without a car
Distance: 10 miles Time: 4h Difficulty: Easy Type: Circular
This is an extension of the Tall Trees trail mentioned earlier. It’s a good way to see the tall trees if you don’t have a car. The tall trees section of the trail is quite popular (aka busy), so if you do this full walk from Brockenhurst, you will still get to experience nice quieter bits. Also, arriving at the tall trees after a bit of a walk is quite special. It can be a particularly muddy and wet route, with some precarious log walking. All about adventure right?
Read more: Brockenhurst to Blackwater and tall trees trail – full guide
8) Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst – The walk along bike track
Distance: 10.6 miles Time: 3h 45m Difficulty: Easy Type: Circular
Most of this walking route in the New Forest is along bike track. Don’t be fooled though into thinking it will be dry. If you do this walk in the winter, you will mostly likely be walking along a muddy path and then some very wet marshland.
Read more: Tips for hiking in rain and wet weather
I would recommend starting this walk in Brockenhurst, with Lyndhurst being the halfway mark, it would be a lovely place to stop for lunch and to explore before walking back to Brockenhurst. Both towns are linked by a short bus journey if you end up deciding to walk just one way.
Read more: Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst circular – full guide
9) Brockenhurst to Beaulieu – The longest of the walks in the New Forest
Distance: 17.6m Time: 7h Difficulty: Medium Type: Circular
This is the longest of all the walks in the New Forest and features a little bit of everything. Woodland, marshland, ponies, river, a 13th century village. Of all the walks I did, this was the most magical fairytale like of them all. Think green carpet like trails, dense woodland with hanging trees, rays of light shining through.
If you choose to do this walk, you need to commit to it. Transport links are limited in Beaulieu. You can get buses from there, but they don’t go back to Brockenhurst.
Read more: Brockenhurst to Beaulieu circular – full guide
Final thoughts on the best walks in the New Forest National Park
These are my best walks in the New Forest so far, but I’m pretty sure I will find more to add to this list. I have only ever walked in the New Forest during winter, so I can’t wait to head over there for the spring. I have some bluebell walks waiting for me.
Read more: Tips for staying warm when hiking in winter
Which of these New Forest walks is my favourite? I can’t pick one, but I would say it’s a toss up between Brockenhurst to the tall trees, Lyndhurst to Ashurst and Brockenhurst to Beaulieu.
If you would like to find other walks, and more information about the New Forest, you can check out the National Parks website.