New Forest walk - winter stroll around Lyndhurst
- Credit: Steve Davison
Burn off your Christmas feasts and take in the beauty of the New Forest on a walk around Lyndhurst
Our walk this month starts from Lyndhurst, often called the ‘Capital of the New Forest’. It was once the site of a royal hunting lodge and was first mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Linhest’ meaning ‘lime wood hill’. From the New Forest Centre and Museum (02380 283444) the route follows the High Street past the imposing Victorian Church of St Michael’s and All Angels. Step inside to see stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones and a fresco, The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, by Lord Leighton. Behind the church, beside the path, is the grave of Mrs Hargreaves (d.1934), née Alice Liddell, who was the inspiration for Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865); Lewis Caroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898).
After the church we turn left past The Queen’s House. This was once the residence of the Lord Warden of the Forest, and it is here where the ancient Verderers Court is held to oversee the smooth running of the Forest.
On the outskirts of Lyndhurst the walk dives into wooded countryside, where you can choose between a long walk, or one that is slightly shorter. The longer walk meanders along tracks between wooded enclosures before crossing a stream at Holmhill Passage and then following The Ridge back to Lyndhurst; the shorter walk takes a more direct route to The Ridge. Along The Ridge are the remains of the Park Pale, an earth bank and ditch that once formed the boundary of a medieval deer park known as Lyndhurst Old Park.
After passing the thatch-roofed cricket clubhouse, take a short detour up to Bolton’s Bench. The small hillock, crowned with a large yew tree, is named after the Duke of Bolton, Lord Warden of the New Forest in the 18th century. Take a rest on one of the seats and admire the view before continuing back to the centre of Lyndhurst.
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• Distance: 5 miles or 2.5 miles
• Time: 2.25 hours or 1 hour without stops
• Terrain: Fairly level, tracks and paths which can be muddy, several gates (no stiles - dog friendly walk), sections of road with pavements
• Start/Finish: Car park off the High Street in Lyndhurst beside the New Forest Centre and Museum; grid ref SU300081
• Map: OS Explorer OL22
• Refreshments: Choice of pubs and tearooms in Lyndhurst
1 (SU300081) – From the car park head north to the High Street (A35) and turn left. Keep ahead at the junction and after the last shop on the left, turn left up the steps. Circle clockwise around the back of St Michael’s and All Angels Church – keep a lookout for the gravestone – and then follow the path back down to the road and bear left (straight on). At the junction, fork left down Shrubbs Hill Road passing The Queen’s House and keep to the main road at two junctions. Later go straight over the A35 and follow the edge of the triangular-shaped green (Goose Green) before continuing alongside the A337 (pavement). Some 50m after the bridge, turn left across the road and follow Beechen Lane, passing a thatched cottage to reach a gated track junction at the end.
2 (SU303071) – Here the short and long walks go separate ways: • Shorter walk: Turn left (north-east) through a gate and follow the track with Pondhill Inclosure to the right. Keep left at the junction and shortly the track takes you past a small plaque on an old tree trunk on your left at William’s Copse; this mentions that 900 sessile oaks were planted here in 1979 to commemorate the creation of the New Forest by William I in 1079. Keep ahead along the track and through a gate. Pass between the houses and through another gate. Continue along the gravel drive, cross straight over the road (B3056) and pass a vehicle barrier. Follow the track up a short rise to join a track on The Ridge and turn left; now follow the walk from Point 4. • Longer walk: go straight on (south-east) through the gate and follow the gravel cycle track (Beechen Lane) for 1 mile to a T-junction.
3 (SU320060) – Turn left, go through a gate and follow the track for 600m. Keep ahead through gates on either side of Little Holmhill Inclosure, and then cross a stream at Holmhill Passage. Continue up the track to a junction. Go right for a few metres and then left up the track to the road (B3056). Cross over and keep ahead for 50m, then bear left along a track following The Ridge, with the remains of the park pale on the left and the heather and gorse covered expanse of White Moor heath on the right; later the shorter walk joins from a track on the left. Take some time here to appreciate the views.
4 (SU310079) – Continue north-westwards along the track passing between a car park (left) and cemetery (right), and then the cricket ground. Fork left over the open grass to visit Bolton’s Bench. After admiring the view, head down to the war memorial and turn left along the tarmac track to a T-junction (B3056). Cross over, turn right to the main road and then turn left following the road back to Lyndhurst passing the Lyndhurst Park Hotel. Keep ahead at the junction with Gosport Lane and just before the brick and timber Workmen’s Club, turn left back to the car park.