The New Forest is a genuine walker's paradise with many circular and linear routes. 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. All year round there are guided walks where local experts will tell you about the history, geology, wildlife and folklore beneath your feet. You can even explore the forest on a ranger-led New Forest event. The New Forest is a fantastic place for cycling with miles and miles of traffic free tracks leading you right into the heart of the forest with few hills to worry aboutWildlifeThe forest is a living and working place where ponies and cattle freely graze the land and help to keep the patchwork of different habitats intact. Deeper in the forest, wild deer browse beneath canopies of mighty oak and beech ÃÂÃÂ natural scenes unchanged by the modern world.
The open heaths of The New Forest are ideal basking grounds for adders and grass snakes, and the many pools dotted around the area make ideal conditions for frogs, toads and lizards. All of these can be seen at The New Forest Reptile Centre, which also offers woodland trails.
There are dozens of events throughout the year to help you get close to nature ÃÂÃÂ from Dawn Chorus Walks to Deer Watches.
Try exploring the forest at different times of year and at different times of day. The forest is most atmospheric at dusk ÃÂÃÂ you also stand the best chance of seeing deer, bats and nightjarsThe New Forest MarqueThe New Forest offers a great variety of places to eat, from classic hotel restaurants to the best of brasseries, the traditional English pub with real ales to the prettiest tea rooms with the most indulgent cream teas imaginable.
You can get a real taste of The New Forest by choosing local specialties identified by the New Forest Marque when you are dining out.
By selecting local food that is fresh and in season, you will actually be helping the forest to stay special by supporting local farmers and small businesses. More and more pubs, restaurants and accommodation providers are sourcing local ingredients. The New Forest Marque helps people to choose food and goods which have been grown, reared, caught, brewed or produced in the New Forest. It also allows New Forest producers to market their produce under a collective and easily identifiable New Forest symbol, at the same time reassuring consumers about the origins of the food they are buying.
In order to qualify for the Marque, New Forest producers have to make sure that their goods meet stringent quality standards. Meat producers, for example, must show that very high standards of animal welfare and good husbandry have been applied at all times. More information on the marqueHistory & CultureThere can be few other places in England where the ancient landscape has remained so unchanged. In 1079 when William The Conqueror named the area his ÃÂÃÂnew hunting forestÃÂÃÂ, little could he imagine that nearly 1000 years later his ÃÂÃÂNova ForestaÃÂÃÂ would still retain its mystery and romance.
The ancient system established by William The Conqueror to protect and manage the woodlands and wilderness heaths is still in place today through the efforts of Verderers, Agisters and Commoners ÃÂÃÂ literally the judges, stockmen and land users of the forest.
As well as the ancient systems of managing the forest, man has left his mark on The New Forest in many other ways. Learn about the forest's history and archaeology at our many museums and Heritage Centres. From stately homes such as Beaulieu to the Roman Villa at Rockbourne, The New Forest has it all.
You can visit historic villages such as Buckler's Hard, where ships for Nelson's fleet were built, using the mighty oaks from the forest. Another example of how man has harnessed nature is at Britain's only surviving tidal mill, Eling Tide Mill.
There are many hidden treasures for you to discover if you know where to look. Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll's inspiration for Alice In Wonderland, is buried in the churchyard in Lyndhurst.
The ideal place to start your visit is The New Forest Museum & Visitor Centre in Lyndhurst with its exhibition depicting the history and heritage of the forest.