Walk Distance: 5.6km
Walk Duration: 1hr 20
OS Map: OS Explorer OL 22 New Forest;
Suitable for: All-terrain pushchairs, babies in backpacks, little legs, all the family.
Walk features: No stiles, tea-rooms, pubs & refreshments available in Lyndhurst, lots of free-roaming New Forest ponies to spot, heathland views, forest walking,mainly flat with one small hill.
The village of Lyndhurst is the unofficial ‘capital’ of the New Forest and as such, makes a perfect and well-connected base from which to explore the miles of surrounding paths through the forest and heathland. This short circuit starting and finishing in central Lyndhurst explores both trees and heath and with mainly flat, wide, stile-free paths is a great walk for young families. Those with toddlers can use a good all-terrain pushchair for the entire route. The return path back into Lyndhurst is well surfaced making it suitable for normal buggies and bikes if you are happy to adapt. Alternatively, if you are camping at Pondhead Farm campsite, you can start and finish the loop from your tent instead!
The walk starts from the east of the village of Lyndhurst, on the turn off between the A35 which runs through Lyndhurst high street and Beaulieu Road (B3056). As you cross the cattle-grid onto Beaulieu Road and into the official New Forest park there is a small turning immediately to the left leading to Lyndhurst cemetery. Take this and follow the road until it turns into a track, passing the cemetery on your left and the cricket club on your right.
Follow the track across the heathland. All the heather here makes this a beautiful walk in the late summer, with the gorse provising a splash of yellow colour in the spring. The views across the surrounding countryside from the relatively elevated track are good whatever the time of year and the open ground makes this a good spot to see groups of New Forest ponies, some enjoying a good gallop.
After approx. 1.5km the path descends a small hill. At both the top and bottom of the hill paths lead away through the heather to the right towards the road. Take either of these tracks – the second one is better for pushchair users. Cross over the road and follow the left-hand lane on the opposite side of the road, leading to Pondhead Farm.
As the farm and campsite appear ahead of you, the track splits into two. Follow the right hand fork away from the farm and past a house on your right hand side. At the end of the track, follow the grassy path to your left that continues in the same direction on into the woods.
This is a gorgeous stretch of the walk through true forest glades. The grassy forest floor and open woodland makes it feel every bit as though you might just catch a glimpse of fairies, elves or fauns at any moment. Children will love this spot of enchanted forest and it makes a lovely spot along the walk for a picnic.
The path leads on until joining a wider and well-surfaced cycle and walking track. Turn right and walk on this path back up the small hill and on into Lyndhurst. This route is known as Beechen Lane and is part of an ancient trackway. Beechen Lane takes you back into the south of Lyndhurst. Pass through the gate onto the residential road beyond and emerging onto the A337 opposite Girl Guiding centre Foxlease.
Turn right and follow the footpath up the hill towards Lyndhurst village, turning right along Gosport Lane at the road junction. Continue along the footpath until reaching the High Street in central Lyndhurst. This is a good spot to stop for afternoon tea or an ice-cream with several teashops and eateries to chose from. We grabbed a toastie and milkshake at ‘Through the Looking Glass’ tearooms – the food was good despite service being a little slow. Alice in Wonderland fans may be interested to know that Alice Hargreaves, nee Lidell, who is thought to be the inspiration for Lewis Carrol’s famous novel, lived much of her life around Lyndhurst and she is buried in the graveyard of St. Michael and All Angels Church, located just off the main High Street.
Return to the start of the walk by turning right along High Street and walking east back to the road junction with Beaulieu Road.
n.b. if you want to avoid the roadside walk back into central Lyndhurst you can take the track immediately to your right as you emerge from Beechen Lane and follow this back through the woods, keeping to the left as the track splits. The path is clearly marked on an OS Map. This walk will return you to the Beaulieu Road via woodland paths, from where you can cross over and turn left back towards Lyndhurst, returning on your outward walking path to the edge of Lyndhurst village. Please note that his part of the route has not been tested for suitability for buggies.
Map of Route:
The walk starts from the eastern edge of the village of Lyndhurst. There is car parking at the walk start, just off the junction of Beaulieu Road with the A35 that runs through the centre of Lyndhurst. You can also catch the number 6 bus to Lyndhurst, which stops at both Southampton and Brokenhurst Railway Station. Lyndhurst is also on the Green Route of the open topped New Forest tour bus – you can find out more here.
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