Things to do inNew Forest
Visitor information for New Forest in Dorset
No visit to Dorset would be complete without a day spent exploring the wonders of The New Forest National Park. Sitting on the edge of the county’s eastern border and stretching across Hampshire, the forest covers some 219 square miles, of which less than half is actually tree covered. Lowland heath, coastal lagoons and grassland make up a large part of the forest and these habitats support a rich variety of flora and fauna.
The ponies are, of course, the most famous animal residents of the forest, but ancient rights were given to commoners who still have the right to graze cattle, pigs, donkeys and sheep in the open forest at certain times of the year. Watch them by all means but don’t try to feed the animals as some may kick or bite!
A visit to the New Forest Information Centres at Lyndhurst is a must before you set out to explore the forest. Knowledgeable staff members are on hand to answer any questions, and there’s also a fascinating museum with interactive and fun exhibits that will encourage the children to look more closely at their surroundings when they get out into the forest.
Getting about in the forest under your own steam is a pleasure as there are plenty of traffic-free routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to follow. Cycles can be hired from a number of outlets while there are riding stables dotted throughout the forest. Enjoy a picnic at one of the tables provided at various sites; it’s a traditional pleasure that never fails to please all the family.
Alternatively, take a tour on an open top bus which takes passengers through the heart of the forest allowing them to get on and off throughout the day wherever they like.
Visit the small towns and villages that are scattered about the forest and you’ll find an array of small shops which are complemented by cosy cafes and character pubs serving up tasty snacks and meals. There are seaside towns and yachting harbours to explore, family attractions and fascinating town museums to delve into, sports facilities aplenty and historic houses and gardens – the list of things to see and do is seemingly endless!