New Forest

County: Hampshire

Pretty, ancient hunting forest with added animal cuteness!


The New Forest (well as a hunting forest, it was newly created in the 1100s!) is nestled between the port of Southampton in Hampshire, and the cathedral city of Salisbury in Wiltshire. William the Conqueror liked it so much, that he ran roughshod over the inhabitants to create a place where he could freely hunt, unimpeded by fences or other boundaries. These days it's a very popular area with the British to spend a weekend or a holiday: walking, cycling, horse-riding, and the such-like. 

The New Forest National Park covers 219 sq miles, of which the National Forest itself is about 120 sq miles. It is a lowland mix of woodland, heathland, grassland and tree plantations, with picturesque towns and villages interspersed throughout. And wandering throughout, the delightful New Forest ponies, donkeys and cattle who are free to graze where they like. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried in the pretty village of Minstead, and if you like gardens, then Exbury is well worth a visit.

Need to know:

  • It's about 1 1/4hrs from Heathrow; just 20 minutes from Southampton
  • I do try and at least drive through part of the New Forest en route to/from Southampton and Salisbury
  • Animal sightings not guaranteed, but we usually see at least something.


Usually combined with Salisbury and Stonehenge from Southampton