Blog posts

Our favourite routes: part four

Our staff are passionate about the New Forest and their work to protect this special place.

In the final edition of our series of New Year blogs, more staff members pick out their favourite New Forest walks and bike rides in the New Forest National Park and share them with you.

Find a little inspiration below and try the routes for yourself in 2017.

Dawn Rayment
People and Wildlife Ranger

Blackwater: Tall Trees Trail (click for route)
1.4 mile accessible stroll

The Tall Trees Trail is situated along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, and it makes a wonderful walk for the whole family. The route is less than two miles long, perfect for even the most reluctant walker.  There are two places where you need to cross the road, but the surfaced path is off of the road, it’s also pretty dry underfoot (if you don’t want to get those new Christmas shoes too dirty) and suitable for prams and wheelchairs.

The trail starts from Blackwater Car Park, it is easy to follow, with a welcoming arch marking the start of the route with trail markers and information panels along the way – so no GPS or advanced map reading required. There is the option of a small diversion through a second archway into the arboretum, where there is a short sensory trail to help you discover different smells, textures and sounds of trees.  

tall trees trail
The main Tall Trees route takes you through a part of the forest which was planted in the 1850s, the trees here are mostly exotic evergreen or conifers, so they provide colour and shelter even at this time of year. The largest amongst them are two Giant Redwoods which are the tallest trees in the New Forest. Now over 150 years old – they are mere babies compared to the 3000 year old Redwoods still found in America. Also look out for the Douglas Firs, these trees have non-flammable bark which protect the trees from forest fires. Their cones have distinctive three pronged bracts, which Native Americans legend tells us are the back legs and tails of mice which scrabble into the cones to find shelter from the fires!

Once you get back to the car park, there are facilities such as toilets and picnic tables. If you have a flask why not pack some warming post-walk refreshments, like a flask of hot chocolate and maybe some mince pies?


Mark Holroyd
Transport and Tourism Manager

Buckland Rings Trail (click for route)
A 6.8 linear walk between railway stations

Without a doubt, one of my favourite walks is the Buckland Rings Trail. This is one of the Rail Trails we recently created to encourage those arriving by train to explore this wonderful area on foot.

As a keen railway enthusiast, I’m always keen to travel by train to a new destination and go for a ramble. This trail is a lovely linear route connecting the two train stations on our local branch line: Lymington and Brockenhurst. The route is just under seven miles, so there is the option of returning to your start point by train. However, as I love the area so much, I tend to walk out and back. It’s surprising how the landscape can look quite different when approaching from a different direction. Plus, it means I have definitely earned my pub lunch after 14 miles!

I love the fact that this route begins from the well-connected station in the bustling village of Brockenhurst, but within a few minutes, you find yourself in the idyllic rural surrounds of Roydon Woods. This nature reserve is a large patchwork of ancient woodland, pastures, ponds and heaths. It came as a surprise to me to learn that the Lymington River also forms part of this woodland! I try to keep my eyes peeled on the large section passing through the woods, as it contains many different habitat. The flowering plants support butterflies and I have seen deer on many occasions.

It is crazy to think this sanctuary is so close to the main road! The second part of the walk takes in the open heathland at Setley Plain with long views to the west. On a clear day, it is possible to see for miles and miles towards Dorset. I usually take a moment to contemplate the previous use of Setley Plain as a Prisoner-of-War camp in the Second World War. After a few miles crossing the open Forest and farmland, the trail arrives at Buckland Rings, the site of an Iron Age hill fort, before heading into the harbour town of Lymington. At this point I have a difficult decision to make: pub with an open fire or retrace my steps back to Brockenhurst. It often depends on how kind the weather is!

This entry was posted by Communications on Thursday 29/12/2016


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