Walk in the footsteps of Alice Hargreaves, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s iconic book Alice in Wonderland

Great British Life: Edge of Black Knowl, near waypoint 3Edge of Black Knowl, near waypoint 3 (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

Situated in the heart of the National Park and known as the capital of the New Forest, Lyndhurst is duly popular, especially in the summer when it can get rather busy. Hence, a visit during the quieter months of the year is to be recommended.

The New Forest Heritage Centre, which houses a museum, gift shop and café, is well worth visiting if you have time. Also of note is the church of St Michael and All Angels, where the grave of former Lyndhurst resident Alice Hargreaves (née Liddell), Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, can be found.

Nearby is the imposing building called Queen’s House, headquarters of the Forestry Commission, and the Verderers’ Hall (Verderers are officials who look after commoners’ rights and Forest land use).

Great British Life: Forest track at startForest track at start (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

This walk explores the beautiful woodland between Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst, a few miles to the south. Much of the route is along Forestry Commission gravel tracks through what are known as inclosures, timber plantations managed by the Forestry Commission.

As well as the OS Explorer map, another handy map to have with you is the cycle trail map (it also shows the main walking paths), which you can buy at the New Forest Heritage Centre.

The forest can be confusing, especially for a newcomer, but the cycle trail map shows the numbers of the wooden waymarker posts which you’ll find on the ground at track junctions, so you can pinpoint where you are whenever you come across one.

Great British Life: Forest track between Pinkney Lane and Butts LawnForest track between Pinkney Lane and Butts Lawn (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

Despite the length, it’s easy walking, with refreshment opportunities at Brockenhurst along the way. You could also shorten the walk by taking the bus from Brockenhurst back to Lyndhurst, just a 10-minute journey.

The walker-friendly Oak Inn at Bank, situated just outside Lyndhurst, makes an ideal place to end your day.

Walk summary:

Start/finish: Free parking area at bend in the road, Pinkney Lane, south of Oak Inn, Bank, south-west of Lyndhurst (SU288067)

Map: OS Explorer OL22. New Forest Cycle Routes map: tinyurl.com/NF-Cycle-Routes-Map. Map also available at the Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst.

Distance: 9¼ miles (14.75km); shorter option taking bus back 4? miles (7.4km)

Terrain: Easy walking mostly along gravel tracks through the forest – either on the level or very gentle gradients; short stretches alongside main roads and along a quiet country lane

Time: 4 hours (or 2½ hours taking the bus back from Brockenhurst)

Great British Life: Forest track through conifersForest track through conifers (Image: Fiona Barltrop)


1) (SU288067) From the parking area, turn right along the lane crossing a cattle grid, then right again, opposite a large house on the left, along a wide gravel track (cycle route), a pair of gates ahead.

The track leads southwards through Brick Kiln Inclosure (keep to the main track ignoring turnings), goes through another pair of gates and crosses a small open area called Butts Lawn, curving round to the right. Continue to a fork at a small triangular grassy area.

2) (SU291055) Bear left past the waymarker post 258. Carry on southwards (passing posts 260 and 262) to reach Bolderford Bridge, which spans the Lymington River at the confluence of Highland Water and Ober Water (it becomes the Lymington River from here to the Solent).

Great British Life: Lymington River from A337 road bridge, near BrockenhurstLymington River from A337 road bridge, near Brockenhurst (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

Cross the bridge and continue to the corner of a large grassy area, Black Knowl, just beyond.

3) (SU290040) Leave the cycle route (which continues along the right-hand side of Black Knowl) and follow the path that heads diagonally across Black Knowl in a south-southeast direction, passing to the right of the allotments.

4) (SU295026) At Meerut Road, turn left. After the road bends right, keep ahead (left fork) at a green to continue to the main road/A337. (However, if you want to visit Brockenhurst village centre, turn right at Meerut Road, then left at the T-junction along Rhinefield Road.

Turn left after about 400m over the footbridge by the ford known as the watersplash to continue along Brookley Road into the centre. At the crossroads, turn left along the B3077/Grigg Lane, then fork left into Waters Green and right to the A337.)

5) (SU302028) Turn left alongside the main road for c.300m re-crossing the Lymington River.

6) (SU302031) Turn right along the B3055/Balmer Lawn Road, and as the road bends right, keep ahead along the track to Standing Hat car park. Go through the gate ahead and fork right (post 289). At post 287, bear left, right at 286, left at 285 and right at 283, heading north all the time.

Great British Life: Map for Hampshire Life walk (Lyndhurst - Brockenhurst, New Forest), November 2020 issueMap for Hampshire Life walk (Lyndhurst - Brockenhurst, New Forest), November 2020 issue (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

7) (SU320060) At post 281, follow the cycle track to the left, which becomes Beechen Lane, leading to Clayhill and the A337. Bear right. Fork left passing a green on the right, then bear left at the junction, and keep left as the road forks to continue along Chapel Lane.

8) (SU296077) Finally, turn left along quiet Pinkney Lane back to the start.