Five Reasons to Love the New Forest

New Forest Pony

The New Forest hasn’t been new since the late 11th century, when William the Conqueror decided he needed a nice shiny royal hunting forest in the south of his new kingdom. William’s decision came at quite a human cost as local villagers were turfed off their lands, but we’re benefitting today in a wonderful wild playground in the busy south east of England.

Summer doesn’t have to be all about the seaside – though the Forest is home to some great coastal towns – and the New Forest is packed with brilliant things to do whether the sun’s shining or we endure a few seasonal showers.

Here is UK Caravan Holiday’s pick of the best of this beautiful, historic, fascinating and fun area:

1 – Woods

You’ll find some of Britain’s most beautiful woodland in the New Forest, much of it of international conservation importance. Among the oaks, beech, yews, redwoods and hollies of the Forest you’ll find some spectacular individual trees including the “Queen of the Forest” the 500+-year-old Knightwood Oak on the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive, one of the best ways to enjoy the arboreal splendour of the New Forest. Naval history enthusiasts will want to take a peek at the groves where Nelson found the oak to build his victorious fleets.

2 – Wildlife

The New Forest is a favourite with wildlife film makers. They come here because the area is packed with some of Britain’s favourite creatures. Birdwatchers will head for the heaths, home to rare residents like the Dartford Warbler, woodlark, and northern lapwing, as well as the woods, which are particularly rich in owls. There’s a large resident deer population – including fallow, roe, red, sika and muntjacs – but you’ll have to be sharp to spot them. Some of the wildlife isn’t quite wild. Ancient commoners’ rights allow grazing of cattle, horses, and donkeys, and in autumn pigs are released into the woods to feast on acorns. And there are a number of wildlife parks and sanctuaries like Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary and the New Forest Wildlife Park at Ashurst.

3 – Beautiful villages

Village greens, ancient churches, traditional inns, pretty tea rooms… the New Forest’s villages tend to deserve the description “picture postcard perfect”. Brockenhurst is a great location for starting a day’s walking or cycling. Lymington is the area’s “capital”, with good gift shopping and a beautiful harbour. The likes of Burley, Fordingbridge, Hythe and Ringwood all offer beautiful historic architecture and plenty of gentle entertainment.

4 – Adventures

We increasingly want to keep busy when we get out into the countryside. If you’re looking for walking the New Forest is criss-crossed with paths, and the National Park website has excellent guides to get you started. The relatively quiet roads and miles and miles of off-road tracks make this place a cycling paradise. If you don’t have a roof-rack there are many cycle rental operations in the area. To really explore in a way that fits the surroundings, there are horse riding stables and trips everywhere, with a particular concentration around Burley. Kids will love going wild at the Go Ape rope courses in Ringwood, near which you’ll also find a karting track.

5 – History

There’s loads of natural history in the New Forest, but man has made his mark too. Biggest and best of the historical attractions is probably Beaulieu National Motor Museum, which delivers a double whammy of historic country house and a world-class car collection. Hurst Castle played an important role in defending England’s shores from its construction, on the orders of Henry VIII, to the Second World War. Today, the fantastic views of the Isle of White are a bonus in a fascinating and important piece of military architecture that’s very child and dog friendly and can be reached with a ferry ride.

Where the great outdoors is at its best, you’ll always find good quality caravan and park home holidays. The New Forest is no exception and the National Park is fringed with excellent holiday facilities for mobile and static caravanners.


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