Three of the New Forest’s Most Popular Pub Walks
The majestic New Forest plays host to an impressive selection of Toad Hall cottages, all of them tucked away behind ancient boughs, tranquil meadows and heathlands. This vast and leafy National Park offers up a tapestry of tracks and trails across some of the most beautiful and precious landscape in the British Isles. It’s also home to some of the region’s most charming and characterful pubs and taverns, their thatched roofs, pretty gardens and age-old hanging signs a welcome sight for weary wayfarers. We’ve picked out a trio of delightful New Forest pub walks the whole family can enjoy…
The Burley Village Walk (approx. 4 miles)
Let’s start with a stroll down the honeysuckle lanes and meadows of one of the most picturesque villages in the New Forest. Renowned for its smugglers’ tales, dragon slayers, witchery and folklore, the enchanting parish of Burley remains a place that time forgot. The Burley Village Walk offers a unique opportunity to explore the tracks and trails that surround this charming village. Follow Castle Hill Lane to gaze upon the breathtaking views of the Avon Valley with its water meadows and roaming pastures. On the woody plateau of Castle Hill you’ll find the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, believed to date back 2,500 years or more. The remnants of the defensive ditch and ramparts are still visible, offering a fascinating insight into the Ancient Britains. Enjoy a hearty stroll back towards the village, passing rows of pretty cottages, veg plots, rose gardens and free-roaming livestock, to take your pick from a handful of handsome pubs for a well-earned lunch.
Right in the heart of the village lies the Burley Inn, a lovely pub with a sumptuous seasonal menu and a sunny patio area ideal for alfresco dining. Tucked away on Chapel Lane you’ll find the Queen’s Head pub, a venue that’s riddled with character and steeped in history. This former smithy is now a popular local meeting place welcoming gaggles of hungry ramblers past its boot-worn threshold. A little further eastward along Cott Lane is The White Buck, an impressive Tudor-style gastropub that’s exquisite menu is perfect for the more discerning palates.
Discover Toad Hall Cottages’ charming selection of Burley holiday cottages and start planning your New Forest escape.
The North Taste Trail (approx. 15 miles)
The combination of majestic woodland trails and delicious local food makes The North Taste Trail one of the most popular New Forest excursions. All good outdoor adventures begin with a fulsome breakfast, so pull up a pew at the Hyde-out Café, a cosy tearoom found in the leafy pastures close to the waterside town of Fordingbridge and near the tranquil banks of the River Avon. Here you can tuck into a hearty breakfast made from only the finest locally sourced ingredients and fit for The New Forest Marque of Approval – the insignia of delicious regional quality. With your bellies full, it’s time to put your best foot forward and head for Frogham to pick up the off-road cycle trail to Hampton Ridge, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the roaming heathland. With a spring in your step you’ll descend upon Bramshaw – close to the Wiltshire border – and the delightful rural village of Fritham, an ancient settlement dating all the way back to the Domesday Book. During the autumn it’s not uncommon to see the local farm pigs snouting the undergrowth for acorns and chestnuts during ‘pannage season’ – an ancient practice dating back to the reign of William the Conqueror.
With more than a handful of miles under your belt, you’ll have worked up a healthy appetite, so the sight of the quaint thatched cottage pub, The Royal Oak, will be most welcome. This perennially popular free house has been welcoming wayfarers and their four-legged companions since the 1600s and retains much of its rustic charm. Take a seat in the inviting pub garden and savour food good enough to match the idyllic surroundings. Another New Forest pub of fine repute is The Fighting Cocks, a traditional forest pub in the village of Godshill, near Fordingbridge. Here you can savour some sumptuous pub food while supping on local ales and encompassed by sweeping heathland views. Over the road from the pub are the remnants of the centuries old ‘cock fighting pit’ from which the inn earned its name.
The next destination is the iconic seven arches of the medieval stone bridge at Fordingbridge where you can while away an hour or two enjoying a stroll by the river and mooching the historic streets and characterful shops, perhaps picking up some artisan treats for your homecooked evening meal. All that’s left to do is head back from where you came, picking up Abbots Well Road towards Abbotswell car park (a favoured starting point).
Take a look at Toad Hall Cottages’ cosy boltholes and delightful dwellings in and around the historic waterside town of Fordingbridge.
The Lyndhurst Parish Walk (approx. 8 miles)
The picturesque parish of Lyndhurst continues to beguile all those who visit. Known grandiosely as ‘the capital of the New Forest’, this royal manor is steeped in heritage having played host to various dignitaries down the ages. Following wooded glades and quiet meadows, the Lyndhurst parish walk provides a memorable route around this idyllic enclave. Begin the walk through the heart of the village, passing the row of traditional shops, and head to Bolton’s Bench, found in the leafy shade of an ancient Yew tree at the top of a lone grassy hillock. Legend has it that Bolton’s Bench was the final resting place for a ferocious dragon which met its comeuppance at the hands of Sir Berkeley, who, along with his loyal pack of hounds, battled with the defiant beast for 30 days and 30 nights – just one of The New Forest’s many folklore tales. Here, you can enjoy charming views of meadows and grazing ponies. Picking up Beaulieu Road, you’ll come to a bridle track which will lead you through a succession of wooded paths and sun-dappled clearings leading towards Clay Hill. You’ll skirt around the border of the Pondhead Inclosure – a much-loved haven for wildlife.
Continue along the leafy trails to Gritnam Wood to discover The Oak Inn, a pretty forest pub adorned by hanging baskets which serves up an exciting array of food and drink. The wandering path will lead you back beneath the ancient boughs of the woods bound for Bramble Hill where you can pick up the track known as the Cut Walk and head for the views of Lyndhurst Hill. As you walk towards the village of Emery Down, you’ll encounter The New Forest Inn, a much-loved 18th Century pub which boasts an inviting menu and ‘probably the best gravy in the whole of the New Forest’ – just one of its many accolades. As you pick up the route to Bunker’s Hill, you’ll have one more opportunity to gaze upon one of the parish’s favourite panoramas before descending back down to the quiet lanes of Lyndhurst.
The next pub along the trail is the gorgeous Waterloo Arms, a thatched cottage pub with beautiful gardens. Expect to find a variety of delicious specials and seafood dishes. The manicured fairways of the New Forest Golf Club offer a brief interlude before this well-trod track leads you back to where it all started via the heather-bound heathlands of White Moor.
The endless trails around the ancient New Forest parish of Lyndhurst are yours to explore when you book a stay with Toad Hall Cottages.