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Our favourite Christmas routes

Our favourite Christmas routes


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

So throughout December some of them will be picking out their favourite walks and bike rides in the New Forest National Park and sharing them with you.

Find a little inspiration below and try the routes for yourself over the Christmas period.

New Forest National Park Authority staff member Victoria Rice
Victoria Rice
Finance and Business Support Administrator

Keyhaven Marshes
3.7 mile easy walk along level ground

One of my favourite local walking routes is from Lymington Marina, through Keyhaven Marshes, and on to Milford on Sea (if I’m feeling particularly fit). It helps that this area is pretty much on my doorstep!

The Keyhaven Marshes walking route encompasses a beautiful section of the Solent Way with views across to the Isle of Wight and opportunities to spot a vast array of birds and other wildlife. On early morning walks/runs I have spotted deer and rabbits as well as grey herons. The history of the area is also fascinating and there is still evidence of Lymington’s salt production past all around.

Birds fly across Keyhaven marshes
The route is popular with dog walkers, bird watchers, cyclists and joggers throughout the year. My favourite time to be out there has to be first thing in the morning — you can’t beat the views with only the sunrise and birdsong for company. Definitely the best start to the day!

New Forest National Park Authority staff member Paul WaltonPaul Walton
Head of Environment and Rural Economy

Sway and Setthorns Loop
9 mile bike ride, 85 per cent off road

Having the good fortune to have lived in Sway for a year my current favourite cycle route is the Sway and Setthorns Loop.

As a cycle ride it is ideal — generally flat (apart from a teeth rattling section down the unsurfaced bridleway at Adnams Lane!), easily do-able at the end of a working day during the lighter evenings and generally quiet enough in Wootton Enclosure to be guaranteed a sight of deer browsing alongside the cycle track. Gaps in the trees alongside the old railway line that once ran from Brockenhurst to Ringwood provide glimpses of ponies grazing on the open heathland, contrasting with the more enclosed feel of the wooded parts of the route.

Woodland path scene leading to a bridge on the horizon
If I’m walking I tend to stick to the Setthorns Inclosure with its network of paths providing a choice of routes, a number of them leading to the Avon Water and the possibility of seeing a Kingfisher. In May and June this year a late evening walk became a compulsory daily routine to hear the churring Nightjars on the edge of the Inclosure, dodge the stag beetles taking flight and catch sight of a Woodcock silhouetted against the rapidly darkening sky. The walk back home was usually accompanied by the hooting of Tawny Owls.

Over time I will be getting out and exploring more of the Forest but with so much literally on the doorstep the temptation will always be to leave the car on the drive and simply explore my local patch!

Download your pick of nearly 50 free walking and cycling routes across the New Forest National Park this Christmas at

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