OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN THE NEW FOREST
The New Forest a magical place - one of the last remaining areas of unenclosed pasture, heathland and forest in southern England and a refuge for many animals, largely due to the survival of lowland habitats like valley bogs, heaths and deciduous woodland which have been lost elsewhere. It’s also enduringly popular with humans, who fall in love with its unspoiled tranquillity and unique character. It’s perfectly normal to see ponies, donkeys, cattle, deer and sometimes even pigs grazing throughout the New Forest! They are completely free to roam but actually belong to the New Forest Commoners – people whose land or property has been assigned grazing rights historically and who are committed to supporting the Forest’s landscape and ecology.
Keen walkers and hikers will revel in access to a variety of scenic trails, taking in everything from 26 miles of breathtaking coastline to expansive heathland and sloping valleys at the heart of the Forest. For those on two wheels, there’s over 140 miles in total of car-free cycle trails, perfect for families looking for a safe vantage point from which to marvel at this spectacular combination of coast and forest discovery.
Visit the New Forest and you’re looking at an open invitation to get on a bike and ride! With 100 miles of car-free trails, even the most inexperienced cyclist will enjoy slipping into the saddle and exploring routes through ancient woodland, rugged heathland and pretty local villages. To properly discover the real heart of the New Forest, you’ll find that two wheels are definitely better than four.
If you don’t have your own bike, it’s easy to hire one by the hour, the day or for longer, whether you’re after a mountain bike, a hybrid, or an e-bike. The New Forest website is a great place to start when choosing a route and you’ll find a range of options for bike hire from Lymington. You can also download a map of the trail network, which includes handy tips and a useful overview of the whole area so you can properly plan your freewheeling adventures!
Walking in The New Forest
The New Forest’s beautiful and varied landscapes offer ideal walking territory for anyone who loves the great outdoors and Elmers Court is perfectly placed to be your base camp.
Bolderwood: Radnor Trail (1.9 miles)
A lovely short walk that passes through mature sweet chestnut, oak and beech woodland with Bratley Water a great spot for a rest and a picnic. The trail continues to the Bolderwood deer viewing platform where you can often see fallow deer and if you stop at the right time, you’ll catch them being fed by the local rangers.
Keyhaven Marsh (3.5 miles)
Perfect for families and also those who need an accessible walk, this 3.5-mile walk follows a pretty path along the coast, where you can enjoy fabulous views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and the Needles. Keyhaven Marshes are home to some fantastic birdlife too.
Lyndhurst on foot (8.5 miles)
Discover the heart of the New Forest at Lyndhurst with a circular walk through the parish of Lyndhurst, with several pubs along the route ideally placed to give you a well-earned break in your journey.
Head to beautiful Beaulieu where New Forest Activities offer guided canoeing or kayaking tours on Beaulieu River Nature Reserve. The privately-owned river is tidal, so you can travel up or down stream, explore hidden creeks and check out the wildlife, including moon jellyfish and Beaulieu's resident seal. It’s great family fun in a glorious setting.
If you’d like to take to the sparkling waves of the Solent, Calshot Activities Centre is just 30 minutes by car from Elmers Court. You can try your hand at sailing here, with 2- hour experience sessions available for adults or children (from as young as five). You’ll be kitted up, briefed and accompanied on the water – the ideal taster, with courses available for budding sailors. If you prefer to harness the wind in your own sails, you can experience windsurfing, either on a taster session or by booking a course.
Dating back to the 1780’s, Lymington Lido was popular in the mid-19th century with those seeking old-fashioned spa benefits, with minerals from the salt plains infusing the mud and water. Enter the water today and you’ll still experience that first bracing chill, but Lymington Seawater baths are also perfect for a fun-filled family day out and with activities galore, you’ll warm up in no time!
There are three separate areas – normal swimming (with lanes and an open pool); the hugely popular inflatable course and a smaller area for stand-up paddleboarding. You must book a specific time in advance and make a separate booking for the different areas. The inflatable course is great fun for older kids (or big kids) as well as youngsters, with a good selection of inflatables and enough of a challenge for those who really want to get stuck in. There’s shallow water for younger children and well-placed eateries to keep your party fuelled for the full session.