Welcome to this New Forest Guide. It’s a guide that gives you all the information that you really ought to know in order to understand and enjoy the New Forest – its unique landscape, its complicated system of management, its wildlife and the conflicts of opinion/vested interests which are never far from the surface. It is not stuffy or one of those fluffy official guides nor is it reliant on advertising – it’s the lowdown on what the New Forest is all about – trees, plants, animals, history and people. It’s an independent website that can be used by both locals and visitors as a useful source of information about the area. It is maintained and funded by local people with a passion for the Forest.
First things first, the New Forest is known affectionately by locals, simply as the “Forest“. Is there any other forest that can match it in the UK – the answer is NO!
It is the largest remaining and foremost of the Royal hunting grounds that once spread across the country. Despite the fact that it is surrounded by several cities and large urban conurbations it remains relatively undisturbed and its mosaic of different landscapes is unique across Europe – its area of lowland heath is now rarer globally than rain forest. It is a place where the iconic New Forest Ponies roam freely along the many roads that criss cross the Forest – under the bye laws they have the right of way over motor vehicles!
The New Forest is situated in the south west corner of Hampshire and extends into south-east Wiltshire and borders east Dorset. Its unspoilt countryside attracts around 15 million day visitors a year. However, it is not commercialised, nor is it a rural Theme Park – it’s a special place where you can get close to nature, embrace your natural surroundings and escape into its tranquility. The National Park covers 220 square miles, has a population of 34,000 and a 26 mile coastline. It contains no towns, only villages of which Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst are the largest.
The New Forest has much to offer in terms of natural beauty and landscape. It has many secrets to discover for those who are prepared to walk a mile or so from the many available car parks. Visited by millions of day visitors and tourists each year, its tranquillity belies the fact that the area is steeped in history from Bronze Age barrows to preparations for D-Day. Its deer were hunted by Kings and a King was killed in the Forest whilst out hunting. Its timber provided ships for Nelson’s fleet whilst its glades provided cover for smugglers. It has been home to a Gunpowder factory and “bouncing bombs” were tested across its heaths. All this and more lies out there to be discovered but, above all, it is the home to a rich variety of wildlife and an oasis of calm and tranquillity.
We hope this website will provide you with information on these topics and much more. The following slideshow gives just a glimpse of what the New Forest has to offer.
The New Forest Landscape
For ease of use the website is organised in six main informative sections:-
History – the origins and history of the Forest including its role in two World Wars
Biodiversity – information on the wildlife, flowers and fungi found in the Forest
Conservation – information on Forest management and conservation
Attractions – details of Forest attractions and events plus a map and video footage
Villages – an objective view of the main Forest villages
All images and video on this site are owned or have been filmed in the New Forest by members of our team unless otherwise stated – please enjoy them and respect our copyright. Some photographs relating to the former New Forest airfields and wartime operations are reproduced by courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. Other historic images are free of copyright unless otherwise stated.