The New Forest National Park is located in the south of England in the counties of Hampshire and Wiltshire. It is a former royal hunting area created in 1079 by William the Conqueror principally of deer.
The ponies, cattle and pigs turned out into the open forest are owned by the “Commoners”, and are there by the Rights whose foundations extend back 900 years to William’s time.
Try to escape from the confines of the car and head out on foot, bicycle or on horseback to get a more intimate feel of the forest. The New Forest attracts many visitors every year, and is a must for nature lovers, with its huge variety of plants and flowers, some of which are quite rare.
If you stick to the footpaths you shouldn’t get lost it is wise to get a compass and ordnance survey map as the reception on mobile phones can be patchy. Walkers will enjoy the many circular and linear routes. It is also great for cycling with miles and miles of traffic free tracks leading you right into the heart of the forest with few hills to worry about.
There are many picnic and toilet facilities, all of which are carefully sited to allow visitors safe and easy access to a variety of forest landscapes. You can choose from a wide selection of bed and breakfasts, hotels, inns, guesthouses and farmhouses. There are many pubs and restaurants which offer local fayre and pretty tea rooms delivering the most indulgent cream teas imaginable.
Throughout the forest the wild ponies can be seen grazing. Do give a wide berth to any mares, cows or pigs with their young. You may see the occasional stallion rounding up his mares so do not get between him and his ladies. There are places to visit in the New Forest including Fordingbridge, Lymington, Lyndhurst, Ringwood, and Romsey. A good place to start your visit is the Museum and Visitor Centre in Lyndhurst, this is where you can learn some of the secrets of the forest.