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Bolderwood Deer Sanctaury

Blackwater Arboretum

Balmer Lawn

Shepards Gutter

Eyeworth Pond

Deerleap

Puttles Bridge

Canada Common

Bolton's Bench

Lepe Country Park

Free Family Fun in the New Forest

Hi and welcome to my New Forest family fun blog. My name is Caroline and I am a local outdoor photographer in Hampshire. I am a mum of two very outdoorsy children who love to run free and feral so I thought, given the current economic climate, that families might appreciate some help with where to take the kids on a nice (and free) day out in the Forest. If you are interested in something less feral and don’t mind paying entrance fees for places, I have included some ideas below to these as well. This is by no means an exhaustive list however, and if you know anywhere that you think should be added, please just shout!

It’s worth bearing in mind that, as is the case with most places in the New Forest, there are lots of places with lack of facilities due to them being off the beaten track, there are no rubbish bins anywhere (you are encouraged to take all rubbish home with you) and due to the amount of wild ponies and cattle, you have to be prepared to drive slowly and over a lot of cattle grids!

I have tried to add all notes that I would find useful / important and I hope you find the whole piece useful and it gives you some ideas, but please let me know if you think there is anything else I should add in!

All of the places I have recommended are free to explore but I have added in a couple of links at the bottom to places that are in the New Forest that cost money.

I hope you enjoy and have some awesome new adventures!

Fordingbridge

Where is it?

Fordingbridge is a lovely little town towards the North of the New Forest, near the border with Salisbury. It seems to have some lovely little shops and pubs although we did not go in any of these as we headed straight for the river!

 

Parking:

We parked at Fordingbridge Recreation Ground. It uses the Ringo app which was very convenient. It was only £2.40 for two hours on a Saturday which I thought was quite reasonable.

Postcode: SP6 1AN

Highlights:

  • shallow river to paddle in (and catch fish);
  • ducks to feed;
  • paddling pool (although had no water in when we visited mid-May);
  • reasonable-sized park;
  • kiosk selling snacks and drinks;
  • open grassland to have a kick about;
  • skate park;

Things to watch:

  • seems like a place that will get busy in the Summer;
  • Dogs are not allowed in the open areas around the park / shallow part of water;
young girl paddling in river in Fordingbridge whilst investigating the best family days out in the New Forest
young boy climbing on play equipment whilst exploring the best family days out in the New Forest

Shepherds Gutter

Where is it?

Shephers Gutter is on the North East side of the Forest, just off Furzley Lane and directly West from Paultons Park.

Parking:

We typed Shepherds Gutter into our Sat Nav. It is a small car park, but a free one! Lots of spaces in the shade.

Postcode: SO43 7LB

Highlights:

  • lots of fallen trees to climb over;
  • large grassy space;
  • very shaded;
  • little stream (just off the car park) to paddle in;
  • great for bug-hunting;

Things to watch:

  • the grassy bit was really boggy when we visited – not sure if it is boggy all year round;
girl sitting on an upturned tree whilst looking for the best family days out in the New Forest

Eyeworth/Fritham Pond

Where is it?

Fritham is located towards the East of the New Forest- almost directly in between Fordingbridge and Cadnam (on the outskirts).

Parking:

We typed Eyeworth Pond into our Sat Nav. It is on quite main roads. The car park is quite small and gets full quicky, but people seem to create spaces by parking along the drive. It is a free car park.

Postcode: SO43 7HJ

Highlights:

  • amazing logs and fallen trees to climb over;
  • circular walk around the pond;
  • shady spots and sunny spots;
  • little stream (just off the car park) to paddle in;
  • great space for mountain bikers;

Things to watch:

  • it gets busy on warm days;
  • the car park is small and so people end up parking all over the place;
Eyeworth or Fritham Pond looking beautiful in the sunshine during a reccie for the best family days out in the New Forest

Bolderwood Deer Sanctaury

Where is it?

Bolderwood Deer Sanctaury is almost in the middle of the New Forest – a stones throw from Lyndhurst town centre.

Parking:

There is a lovely large (and free) car park over the road, which I have never seen full.

Postcode: Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Dr, Lyndhurst SO43 7GE

Highlights:

  • large grassy area alongside the car park;
  • toilet facilities within the car park;
  • deer lookout over the road from the car park with viewing platform and deer identification posters;
  • loads of logs and branches to build dens with;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • lots of logs and fallen trees to climb;

Things to watch:

  • Ornamental drive is one of the busier roads through the New Forest;
  • no bins;
boy hangs out of hollow tree trunk whilst looking for the best family days out in the New Forest

Balmer Lawn a.k.a The Brockenhurst Beach

Where is it?

Balmer Lawn is a beautiful hotel on the drive in to Lyndhurst. Next to the grounds however, is a stunning little stream that is shallow enough for all to paddle in!

Parking:

There is a tiny car park which seems to fill up quicly during those gorgeous summer days. If you can’t fit in there then I have always been lucky enough to find space in the laybys further up the narrow road that snakes past some houses. I have never tried parking at the hotel and so don’t know how easy it is!

Postcode: Balmer Lawn, Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst, New Forest, SO42 7ZB

Highlights:

  • shallow stream to paddle in for humans and dogs alike (although you may need
  • some trees to climb;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • quite often a rope swing up to play on;

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • parking can be tricky;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • no real obvious walk around so may not be suitable for high-energy dogs who need a walk;
  • no facilities;

Any more information about Balmer Lawn

https://toddledoddle.com/balmer-lawn-new-forest/

Deerleap

Where is it?

Deerleap is situated on Deerleap Lane just outside of Ashurst. Longdown Dairy Farm is on your left as you drive towards it. Then New Forest Wildlife Park, then Deerleap is up on the right hand side. It can be a lovely walk (you can even walk to the pub) but we just love it for den-building, running free and the views!

Parking:

There is a massive car park but that can still get busy in the height of summer. I have seen people park along the drive which isn’t ideal.

Postcode: Deerleap Ln, Southampton SO40

Highlights:

  • amazing for den-building;
  • so much space for dogs and humans alike;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • wheelchair and pushchair-friendly;
  • beautiful views;

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • no facilities;
  • The drive in and the car park are in bad condition so watch out for lots of pot holes;
boy sits on box at Deerleap whilst doing a reccie for the best family places to go in the New Forest

Puttles Bridge

Where is it?

Puttles Bridge is located on the outskirts of Brockenhurst in the heart of the New Forest. It is the perfect place to go in the summer for splashing and playing!

Parking:

There is a large car park but that can still get busy in the height of summer.

Postcode: Puttles Bridge, Rhinefield Rd, Brockenhurst SO42 7QB

Highlights:

  • lovely river to paddle in;
  • quite often a rope swing;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • great for picnics;
  • logs to climb on in the river;
  • nice walk to get there;

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • no facilities;
  • river can go from shallow to deep very quickly;
  • although it can be pushchair-friendly, it is very bumpy in places due to the tree roots;
dog walking across a bridge at Puttles Bridge looking for the best family place to visit in the New Forest
river at Puttles Bridge during a reccie to find the best family places to visit in the New Forest
girl running through the river at Puttles Bridge whilst exploring the bets family places to visit in the New Forest
river et Puttles Bridge looking glorious while doing a reccie to find the best family places to visit in the New Forest
girl sits in shallow part of river at Puttles Bridge when looking for the best family places to visit in the New Forest

Canada Common

Where is it?

Canada Common is situated to the North of the New Forest over towards Romsey. If you struggle to find it, then head towards The Rockingham Arms and it’s just beyond that.

Parking:

There is a large car park but that can still get busy in the height of summer. Apparantly some people park at the pub and walk up, but I have never done this so wouldn’t want to guarantee it. 

Postcode: Canada Common, West Wellow, Romsey SO43 7JL

Highlights:

  • space;
  • trees to climb;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • great for picnics;
  • loads of wild horses and ponies;
  • nice walk;
  • we’ve started to pop into Carlo’s on the way home for the most fantastic ice creams;

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • no facilities;
  • although it can be puschair-friendly, it is very bumpy in places due to the tree roots;

Bolton’s Bench

Where is it?

Bolton’s Bench is just on the outskirts of Lyndhurst near the Ferrari garage on Southampton Road.

Parking:

There is a large car park but that can still get busy in the height of summer. It is also a very convenient place if you wanted to nip to Lyndhurst afterwards as the car park is just a stones throw from the shops and cafes.

Postcode: Beaulieu Rd, Lyndhurst SO43 7DA

Highlights:

  • space;
  • trees to climb;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • great for picnics;
  • loads of wild horses and ponies;
  • nice walk;
  • lovely little sandy area;
  • picturesque cricket pavilion and cricket green.

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • no facilities;
  • although it can be puschair-friendly, it is very bumpy in places due to the tree roots;

Any more information about Bolton’s Bench:

bolton’s bench in lyndhurst

https://www.forestryengland.uk/boltons-bench

http://www.newforestexplorersguide.co.uk/heritage/lyndhurst/boltons-bench.html

https://walkiees.co.uk/dog-walks/hampshire/boltons-bench-lyndhurst

Blackwater / Blackwater Arboretum / Tall Trees Trail

Where is it?

Blackwater is one of the many areas off Rhinefield Ornamental Drive near Rhinefield House in the heart of the New Forest.

Parking:

There is a large car park but that can still get busy in the height of summer. There are signs pointing you in the direction of alternative parking, but these car parks seem to be quite a distance from the Blackwater area.

Postcode: Rhinefield Ornamental Dr, Brockenhurst SO42 7QB

Highlights:

  • space;
  • fallen trees and logs to climb;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • great for picnics;
  • loads of wild horses and ponies;
  • nice walk;
  • Tall Trees trail which is nothing short of impressive!
  • ice cream van and toilets in the car park;

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • although it can be puschair-friendly, it is very bumpy in places due to the tree roots;

Lepe Country Park

Where is it?

Lepe Country Park is just along the Solent from Calshot at the closest point to Cowes (on the Isle of Wight). On the South East side of the Forest. This makes it a great place to sit and watch boats! 

Parking:

There are two large car parks at the country park one at the top by the open space and park and one at the bottom by the beach and cafe. They can still get busy in the height of summer though. When we visited last (July 2023) the parking was £7.50 for 3 hours, so it isn’t the cheapest. It’s very easy though with a vehicle registration system in place and you pay at the end.

Postcode: Country Park Lepe, Exbury, Southampton SO45 1AD

Highlights:

  • enough green space to have a kick about or game of frisbee;
  • trees and logs to climb;
  • lovely shaded areas;
  • great for picnics;
  • nice walk down the beach taking in some D-Day history;
  • play ground;
  • dog-friendly cafe;
  • toilets;
  • sand dunes to play on on the beach;

Things to watch:

  • gets really busy in the summer;
  • no bins so you need to remember to take your rubbish (and dog poo) home with you;
  • expensive parking;
  • cafe can get very busy;
  • no real accessible wheelchair or pushchair-friendly paths as it’s all either sand or grass!

I hope this has given you a few ideas of places to visit in the New Forest. It is by no means an exhaustive list and I will be adding to it as and when we visit more places. For now though, I hope it has inspired you with a trip out somewhere where there is something for all members of the family! If you have any other places that you would recommend I add to my list, please just shout!

Other places that you might be interested in within the New Forest…

Paultons Park /

Peppa Pig World

 

 

Moors Valley Country Park

 

 

Avon Heath Country Park

 

 

Longdown Dairy

Farm

 

 

New Forest

Wildlife Park

 

 

 

Snowtrax

 

 

 

New Forest

Water Park

 

Exbury

Gardens

 

Furzey

Gardens

 

 

 

New Forest Reptile Centre

 

 

 

Beaulieu Motor Museum

 

 

 

Bucklars

Hard