Created by William the Conqueror around 1079 for the pursuits of the ‘beasts of the chase’, the New Forest remains one of Hampshire’s best known areas and is still recognised as a site of significance for its abundant wildlife.

Now one of the UK’s National Parks, it is probably best-known for its free roaming animals, including the famous native New Forest ponies, as well as red, roe and fallow deer and wild pigs. The ancient commoning way of life dates back to medieval times, although was  only made official in the mid-16th century.

The Common Rights of the New Forest are attached to properties and particular land. Commoners are those who occupy land or property to which these privileges are attached, which includes the right to graze stock. 

Driving, cycling or hiking in and around the area’s many villages, including Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst and Burley, much of this stock can be seen wandering freely. 

There is so much to see in and around the New Forest. Beaulieu is home to the National Motor Museum, which houses a large collection of F1 race cars and vintage motorbikes. It’s current exhibition showcases a selection of vehicles used in the Doctor Who TV show, marking the 60th anniversary of the programme. Home to Lord and Lady Montagu, the site has historical significance too—it was used to train many of the Special Operations Executive agents before they headed off to France during World War II.

Nearby, Exbury Gardens is famous for its Rothschild collections of rhododendrons and
azaleas, housed in 200 acres of woodland gardens which also feature art and sculpture
exhibitions and a miniature steam railway.

The largest village by population, Brockenhurst has officially been declared ‘Britain’s Most Beautiful Place to Live’ by Leaders estate agent. The site of the large tertiary college, it also hosts the popular New Forest & Hampshire County Show every July.

A cycling hub, the Cyclexperience located at the railway station, is a popular base from
which to set out on a variety of routes to suit all abilities.

With a huge array of local produce on offer, the NewForest is a hub for excellent restaurants
and hotels. The Pig, Carey’s Manor Hotel and Balmer Lawn all in Brockenhurst, come
highly recommended, while Lime Wood in nearby Lyndhurst, boasts laid back luxury.

Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa in New Milton is well worth a stay and is often frequented by TV chef James Martin, who trained there as a pastry chef and now has his restaurant, The Kitchen, onsite. Burley Manor offers a boutique hotel experience, while the Montagu
Arms Hotel in Beaulieu dates from the 17th century and oozes history and charm.

For wildlife sightings, visit the New Forest Wildlife Park in Ashurst – home to owls, otters
and wolves. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to find out more about the New Forest’s history
by visiting The New Forest Heritage Trust in Lyndhurst.