Walk Distance: 4.5 km
Walk Duration: 2hrs including ice cream stop time! Allow more for little legs.
Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer OL22 New Forest; OS Landranger 195 Bournemouth & Purbeck
Suitable for: Babies in pushchairs (compacted stony paths), children in carriers, good little walkers, bikes, balance bikes and off-road scooters.
Walk Features: Woodland, shade, arboretum, ice cream van (summer holidays), public toilets, bbq pits, picnic tables, gentle paths, tall trees, wheel friendly!
‘The Brock Hill to Blackwater Arboretum Loop Walk was our route of choice the day after Beth first took her first independently pedal-powered meters at age 3 1/2. I wanted somewhere her big sister could cycle ahead but I could keep her in line of sight and I could spend time running along behind Beth to help her get the feel of cycling under her own steam on lovely, long and level woodland paths. Bear also joined us in a push along trike with Granny walking with him!
This walk is great for a mix of abilities or walkers/cyclist combo family groups. At the car park by Blackwater Arboretum (the halfway mark) there are public loos, picnic tables and even BBQ pits. I can also thoroughly recommend the millionaires shortbread ice cream from the New Forest ice cream van in the summer months!
Whilst cyclists will want to stick to the route shown here or extend, walkers have the choice to shorten the route or take the alternative Tall Trees Trail on the return leg. It’s clearly waymarked.’
The Brock Hill to Blackwater Arboretum Loop Walk begins from the car park at Brock Hill, located just off the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive near its intersection with the A35.
Start the walk by strolling north through the car park (back towards A35 direction) until a small trail leads from the end of the car park onto a main forest track.
Turn right onto the stony track, coming within a few meters to the road.
Cross over and then continue on the track, bending to the right and following as the main path goes round the bend.
Continue on the well-built trail through the forest, ignoring the grassy minor tracks leaving the main path on either side.
Eventually you will come to a point where the route straight ahead of you turns into a grassy path. Instead, bend left and continue on the well-surfaced forest trail.
Again, ignore the minor grassy trails leaving the track. There will be two of these before you reach the next major junction of paths.
At the junction, turn right onto the first well-surfaced track (ignore the grass one).
Continue on and follow the main track as it bends round to the right hand side.
Walk straight on from here to bring you to the Blackwater car park.
Here you will find public toilets, picnic tables, bbq pits, an ice cream van (seasonal) and plenty of lovely woodland suitable for the kids to run wild in after any snack or water breaks!
Turn right into the car park itself and follow it through until you see the gateway that leads across the road and into Blackwater Arboretum. You will enter the arboretum through a gate a short walk from the road.
From here, walkers can choose to follow the route described here or to follow the clearly marked Tall Trees Trail that leaves the main path to the right just inside the entrance to Blackwater Arboretum. The tall trees trail winds through some of the tallest of the Douglas Firs and Giant Redwoods this area of the New Forest is renowned for. This trail will take you back to the south end of Brock Hill car park along a fairly smooth, flat path with information boards about the different trees along the route.
Those cycling or who prefer a longer route taking in the rest of the arboretum, continue straight ahead on the main Blackwater Arboretum trail. It’s a good alternative rest point to the Blackwater car park, with the occasional picnic table dotted about and plenty of smaller side paths to explore the tree collection. In spring you can enjoy the colours of rhododendron bushes here.
Continue through Blackwater Arboretum before reaching the exit gate through another large wooden archway.
Follow the woodland track on straight until you reach another main intersection of paths.
Turn right here. You are now on the main trail that will return you to Brock Hill car park. Ignore other side trails leaving the main track. After passing the third of these minor side paths, the forest path will continue on for a short distance before bending round to the right.
Follow the track and it will return you to the barrier by the road onto Rhinefield Ornamental Drive from where you started your walk. The trail back into Brock Hill car park leaves the track to the right hand side.
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