A guide to cycling in the New Forest

Cycling in The New Forest
The New Forest in Hampshire is one of England’s greatest wildlife jewels and a great location for cycling. Here are five New Forest cycling routes ranging from family friendly trips, suitable for all ages and cycling abilities to some longer and slightly more challenging routes which you could ride over a couple of days.

The New Forest is one of the biggest remaining areas of unenclosed pasture, heathland and forest in Southern England, it’s good to bear in mind that cycling isn’t allowed everywhere, read the New Forest Cycling Code for more details.

You can download the GPX files of each route at the end of the page. 

The old railway Brockenhurst 

Cycling in Brockenhurst
  • Distance: 5 miles (8km)
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginners

Brockenhurst is considered one of the prettiest villages in the New Forest and this route is particularly popular due to its flat, level sections of gravel track running along a disused railway line in the village.The nature and length of this route makes it perfect for smaller children as its not too taxing for little legs to manage.

There are a multitude of tea rooms and pubs along the way including: The Cider Pantry, The Station House Tea Rooms and The Rising Sun. All of which are perfect for a swift snack and drink before carrying on your way.

You can also spot 3,000 beautiful wild New Forest ponies on either side of the abandoned train lines as you cycle along.

The Deer Sanctuary, Burley to Acres Down Farm

Deer Sanctuary in The New Forest
  • Distance: 12 miles (19km)
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

This easy to navigate route is a great choice for families, especially those with slightly older children that can cope with the 12-mile trip. It’s mostly over gravel tracks, meaning you get the best opportunity to view the wildlife in its natural setting. The track strikes out north from Burley across Blackensford Brook and onto Bratley Water, gently ascending to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, and eventually continues down to Acres Down Farm (where you can indulge in a cream tea).

If you need to stop along the way for a breather, bathroom breaks or refreshments you can visit a few different pubs such as: The Trusty Servant Inn and The New Forest Inn.

The Royal Oak Ride, Gorley and Fritham

Royal Oak
  • Distance: 32 miles (51.5km)
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Experienced

A route not for the faint hearted, this trail is based out on the north western boundary of the national park and generally considered to be one of the most challenging. It’s probably best you only attempt this trail if you’re an experienced cyclist. But it’s easy enough to find your way back to Burley with a smartphone GPS or even a simple local tourist map.

The payoff for this challenging trip is the excellent mix of country lanes, off-road cycling trails and quiet villages dotted between, all of which boast traditional pubs with excellent food, such as: The Royal Oak in Fritham, Foresters Arms & The Royal Oak in North Gorley, and The Alice Lisle.

This longer route might benefit from a couple of days to complete it and an overnight stay in a local holiday park, cottage or cycle friendly B&B.

Villages, views and vales

Views and vales cycling route in The New Forest
  • Distance: 15 miles (24km)
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

We have listed this route as moderate, as whilst it’s almost solely on paved roads, which means the cycling itself is easier throughout, there’s more traffic to navigate. 

This circular, planned trail provides an interesting cross-section of the south Burley side of the New Forest, taking riders through some of the park’s smallest villages. 

The not to be sniffed at 15-mile ride allows you to view a myriad of pretty villages, pubs and tearooms, such as: The Queens Head, The Burley Inn, The Three Tuns, The Crown, The Carpenter's Arms and The Lamb Inn.