The New Forest is situated in the south of the UK, encompassing parts of Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire. It covers over 200 square miles of woodland, heath, bogs and grassland. Perhaps it is most well known for the ponies and cattle which have freedom to graze within the confines of the Forest.
William I selected the area as a Royal Forest in around 1709 to be used mainly for deer hunting. Further down the line, the New Forest became a source of timber for the ships of the Royal Navy. In 1999 the New Forest was proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.As of 2005, around 90% of the New Forest is still owned by the Crown and therefore managed by the Forestry Commission. 2005 was also the year that the New Forest became a National Park.
Key towns inside the New Forest include Beaulieu, Lymington, Brockenhurst, Ashurst and Lyndhurst. The New Forest is well connected with the rest of country via rail with stations at Lymington, Brockenhurst and Ashurst. By Road, the M3 makes access from the North easy and the M27 / A31 from the East and West respectively.
Most of the the roads in the New Forest are minor roads that are limited to 40mph. However, it’s easy to get off the more widely used roads and onto the smaller single track roads that criss cross the whole area, soon making you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere! Our routes page is the place to go to find some of these great little roads.
The New Forest currently has around 300 miles of forest paths, 100 miles of which are currently open to cyclists. One of the long terms aims of this site is to include some routes that take in some of these paths, but this will present new challenges with our maps.
There are some great places to make a cake stop too. Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst & Lymington all have bike friendly cafes and we will soon be adding a page to the site to promote these.
In the meantime, take time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings whilst keeping an eye out for ponies and deer!