You’re spoilt for choice walking your dog in the New Forest. There are so many dog-friendly woodlands, arboretums and cycle paths to explore. It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed when planning your trip, particularly if it’s your first time visiting. Today we thought we’d share with you some of our favourite dog- friendly walks in the New Forest.
The New Forest National Park Authority released their walking app in winter 2018. It’s jam packed with routes, many of which are dog friendly. It also includes parking information, as well as in-depth descriptions and GPS navigation of each route. It’s free to download and is available for both Apple and Android devices.
Knightwood Oak, Lyndhurst
Knightwood Oak is the oldest tree in the New Forest. At 500 years old, it’s witnessed both World Wars, the Abolition of the Slave Trade and has been managed by the Forestry Commission since 1923. It’s known as the Queen of the Forest and continues to grow to this day, with a girth of 24 feet. It’s undoubtedly the most famous tree in the New Forest.
You can visit Knightwood Oak in Bolderwood, which is just outside Lyndhurst. There are plenty of dog friendly routes to explore from the car park, including areas of managed and unmanaged woodland. Keep your eyes peeled for New Forest ponies, as well as deer, as they’re known to frequent the area.
Blackwater lies a mile south of Knightwood Oak. It’s another popular destination in the New Forest. Blackwater Arboretum houses a nationally important collection of trees. The half-mile route walks you through this valuable assortment of international species. If you’re looking for a longer walk, you can join the Tall Trees Trail. The route clings close to the road, so may not be suitable for dogs that like to roam.
Alternatively, there are plenty of cycle paths to explore. The terrain is flat and well maintained, making the paths family friendly. It’s a popular route for cyclists, so it’s best to keep your dog close by. However there are plenty of footpaths off the main cycle trail, perfect for more off-piste exploring.
Wootton Bridge, New Milton
I’ve always loved visiting Wootton Bridge; I’ve been coming here since I was a child. It’s the perfect place for a picnic in summer and a paddle. The dogs always love playing in the shallow water and there’s even a rope swing further upstream. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glance of New Forest ponies, as well as cattle stopping by for a drink.
Avon Water is the smallest river that flows through the New Forest to the Solent. There are plenty of walking routes around Wootton Bridge, including sections of the Castleman’s Corkscrew. Some of the walks cross through rare bird nesting sites, which are clearly signposted. At certain times of year you’ll have to stick to main tracks and keep your dog on lead.
Acres Down, Minstead
Acres Down is a 2.5 mile walk exploring forested pine, Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands. If you’re a fan of huge log stacks, Acres Down is the place to walk! It’s also a great way to see Forestry England’s woodland management in action.
Again, the tracks and terrain are well maintained, making Acres Down a family friendly trail.
You can extend the walk and visit Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, which is 2 miles away. It’s a great place to see Fallow Deer, as herds gather to be fed daily by rangers between April and September. Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is free and dog friendly but they must be kept on leads.
Castleman’s Corkscrew, Brockenhurst
Following disused railway lines the circular walk starts at The Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms, which is 1.5 miles from Wootton Bridge. The tearooms are dog friendly and serve a selection of cream teas, lunches and homemade patisseries.
The route takes you through one of Hampshire’s oldest railway lines. It ran from Brockenhurst, through Ringwood, to Wimborne. It was completed in 1847 and ran until the mid 1960s. It’s a popular route for walkers and cyclists alike, exploring heathland as well as woodlands either side. It’s a wonderful place to explore for all ages; I used to pretend I was a steam train when I walked there as a child.
Where do you enjoy walking your dog in the New Forest?
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