Brook to Minstead
Visit the Rufus Stone to discover the mystery surrounding the death of King William II
The route then follows quiet country lanes to the unspoilt village of Minstead where the famous detective writer and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conon Doyle is buried in the grounds of All Saints Church. Return via winding lanes and fields to Canterton and Brook.
The most famous Forest mystery surrounds the death of King William II, third son of William the Conqueror. The Rufus Stone is said to mark the spot where the King was killed by an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell while out hunting in the year 1100. Known as William Rufus for his ruddy complexion, he was an unpopular monarch and disliked by the Church, so not surprisingly there is much speculation and myth surrounding his death. Was it murder or an accident; the arrow glancing off an oak tree before hitting the King? To add a final twist some historians believe the location of the event was actually at a spot near Beaulieu!
- Start/finish: Green Dragon pub and Bell Inn, Brook. Grid ref. SU 273 141 Post code SO43 7HE
- Ordnance Survey map: Explorer OL 22 New Forest
- Getting there: New Forest Tour red route (summer only) to Brook
- Distance: 7.2 miles (11.6 km)
- Duration: More than 3 hours
- Local facilities: Bell Inn and Green Dragon pub at Brook. The Sir Walter Tyrrell pub at Upper Canterton. Village stores and Trusty Servant pub at Minstead. Parking at Rufus Stone car park for a shorter walking route option.
- Accessibility: Mostly easy walking with gentle gradients. A few short steep uphill and downhill sections and field paths can be muddy. Gates, footbridge and five stiles.
1. Grassy bridleway past cottages
With the Green Dragon pub behind you, turn right and follow the roadside path to Canterton Road. Follow this road past houses to a footbridge over a ford. The road becomes a gravel track, continue ahead to a waymarker on your left. Turn right onto a grassy bridleway and past cottages on your left. Continue straight ahead through Pipers Copseand past some large boundary oak trees. Sections of this track can be very muddy.
2. Sir Walter Tyrrell pub
On leaving the wood the bridleway becomes a road. Keep going to the road junction and turn left past a red post box. Follow the road to the Sir Walter Tyrrell pub.
3. Rufus Stone
Continue following the road uphill through oak and holly woods. Just ahead on the left is Rufus Stone car park and directly opposite is the Rufus Stone monument.
4. Under the A31
Continue ahead uphill and turn right at a low wooden barrier and waymarker 90. Follow the gravel cycle track to waymarker 91 and turn left down a wide gravel track to the A31 underpass. Turn left at a metal gate and waymarker 92 following a wide gravel track past cottages on your right.
5. Beech wood
After a few hundred yards turn right into Furzey Gardens car park. There is a waymarker just past the garden entrance on the left. Turn left to follow the track ahead and then turn right where the track splits to follow the waymarked path downhill through a beech wood to a kissing gate and footbridge.
6. Hop over a stile
Turn left at the next kissing gate and continue downhill along the edge of a larger wood, crossing a boardwalk and footbridge. Continue ahead to the top of the hill and turn left over a stile. Follow the path alongside buildings to the road and over another stile.
7. Minstead Church
Turn left and follow the road which dips down to a footbridge and ford crossing. Turn right at the road junction and continue to Minstead Study Centre and a ford crossing on your right. Cross the road ahead to a small gravel lay-by and waymarker. Turn left through a kissing gate and follow the path uphill alongside a woodland and field edge to Minstead Church.
8. Minstead village
Follow the road downhill to Minstead’s small village green where you can visit the Trusty Servant pub or village stores and tea room. The maze of high-banked lanes around here makes it feel very different to the Open Forest.
9. Leaving the village
Follow the road signs for Stoney Cross to leave the village. Use the footpath on your right to follow alongside the road and then re-join the road. Turn left at a waymarker and go over a stile to follow the field edge on your right.
Continue over another two field stiles to a road. Turn right and follow the road uphill with views of Furzey Gardens on your left before the road dips downhill. (If wet, continue along the road and take the first left past Minstead Hall onto a road signed to Furzey Gardens).
10. Passing Furzey Garden
At a grassy triangle and road junction turn left and follow signs for Furzey Gardens. Follow the gravel track past the gardens and retrace your steps to the underpass and follow the cycle route back to post 90. Turn left to return to the Sir Walter Tyrrell pub and follow the road ahead through Upper Canterton to the red post box.
Follow the hedge lined road over a footbridge and ford crossing and retrace your steps back to Brook.
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