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Campsites in The New Forest

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63 bookable campsites within 15 miles of The New Forest

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Why visit The New Forest?

An unrivalled location 

It may be England’s smallest national park at a petite 223 square miles, but the New Forest sure packs in a whole load of scenery, wildlife and fresh-air activities. Located mostly in Hampshire and occasionally spilling over into Wiltshire, this former royal hunting ground is an all-round excellent spot for an outdoor break. 

Top transport links mean it’s easy to get here from elsewhere in South East England – 90 minutes is what it will typically take to drive here from London, a time matched by speedy trains that regularly stop off at Brockenhurst station. 

Considering the idea of a two-centre holiday? The New Forest’s unrivalled location makes it easy to hop on a ferry and sail off somewhere new, whether you’re heading from Lymington to the Isle of Wight or from Poole to Normandy and the Channel Islands. As it’s in the westernmost corner of Hampshire, the national park is also well-placed for forays into South West England, especially Dorset and Devon’s Jurassic Coast. 

Woodland, heath and coast 

Ready to wander in the woods, cycle over heather-covered heaths and stick your toes in the sea? The New Forest may be small, but it has an incredible variety of rural landscapes, packing in some of the finest scenery you’ll see in South East England

You’ll probably want to start by exploring some of the classic New Forest scenery that conjures up images of William the Conqueror’s hunting ground: a majestic mix of woodlands and heaths, dotted with ancient oaks and crisscrossed by reddish-tinted streams. Happily, there are lots of ways of exploring the forest hinterland, with hundreds of waymarked walking trails, bridleways and bike routes to choose from. If you’re looking to hire a bike, basing yourself near the larger villages of Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst will be your best bet. 

For coastal times, Milford on Sea and Lymington are popular spots for walks out to Hurst Castle, dips in the saltwater lido or days of watersports like paddleboarding. Seeking a sandy beach? Head a little further west to Hengistbury Head in Christchurch or beyond to buzzing Bournemouth.

Fantastic food

Looking for a mix of cosy country pubs and contemporary British cuisine? The New Forest is something of a regional culinary hub and is home to a wide range of flavours, whether you’re in the mood for fine dining at The Pig in Brockenhurst or a humble scone and a pot of tea at Holmsley tea rooms.

If you plan a bit in advance, it’s also possible to book a trip that coincides with one of the New Forest’s regular gastronomy events. In July, for instance, you could sip white wine and sample oysters at Lymington’s annual seafood festival and head to the New Forest and Hampshire County Show in Brockenhurst, home to dozens of artisanal food stalls. 

Best New Forest attractions

  • Paultons Park, a family-friendly theme park near Romsey and home to Peppa Pig World 

  • The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu and the nearby red-brick hamlet of Buckler’s Hard

  • Lymington’s weekly market, home to around 100 different stalls

  • Calshot Activity Centre – for kayaking, climbing windsurfing or a spin around the New Forest’s very own velodrome

  • Exbury Gardens, a 200-acre woodland garden with a miniature steam railway a short drive from Southampton 

The unexplored New Forest

Wondrous wildlife 

With some of the richest examples of biodiversity of all Britain’s national parks, the New Forest is one of England’s best places to see flowering plants, forage for fungi or spot rare bats, birds and mammals. 

It’s also home to semi-wild animals like the hardy New Forest ponies, a very attractive addition to the area’s open landscapes. Roaming groups of shaggy donkeys can frequently be spotted too (occasionally holding up the local traffic), while autumn sees local pigs sent out to get fat on the acorns and chestnuts that carpet the forest floor. 

The best New Forest nature reserves

  • Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes– best for birdlife, watching boats and gazing out over the sea

  • Roydon Woods– a hidden gem near Brockenhurst where you’ll see the best New Forest bluebells in spring

  • New Forest Northern Commons, Ringwood – explore fords, ferns and sand dunes in a classic New Forest landscape

As well as the options above, the New Forest has dozens of enclosures, an arboretum and several very scenic river walks to discover. Parking in most Forestry England car parks is free of charge. 

Turrets by the sea

Mix architecture with fresh salty air and spectacular views over the Isle of Wight at one of these peaceful seaside spots recommended by locals: 

  • King Henry VIII’s maritime fortress at Calshot

  • Highcliffe Castle near Christchurch, an impressive Gothic Revival building located in a clifftop setting close to several beaches

  • Hurst Castle, another originally Tudor artillery fort accessible via a long spit from Milford on Sea

Here’s how

The New Forest National Park has a good spread of different places to stay, so use the filters to find your ideal spot. Perhaps pick a peaceful or remote location for a secluded place to commune with nature, or use the family-friendly filter so the kids can run free in a safe and friendly environment. A few ideas to get you started: 

 Going glamping instead? Take your pick of bell tents and lodges for a family break, or cosy up in something like a shepherd’s hut if you’re travelling as a couple. Keen to keep the budget down? Opt for a frill-free New Forest camping pod and bring your own kit, or set off for a stay at one of the smart New Forest static caravan parks in the local area.