The preservation and celebration of wildlife and rural culture defines this area of southern England, an oasis in-between Southampton and Bournemouth on a coastline cluttered with urban development. The New Forest stretches from the Solent strait up across much of Hampshire and encompasses perhaps the richest array of natural habitats in the south. The towns and villages dotted in and around the forest are brimming with just as much life, with markets, fairs and other events held regularly to celebrate and show off their way of life.
Places to go in The New Forest
The New Forest’s dry heaths, dense woodland, valley bogs and rivers are home to an abundance of wildlife and plants. Birds like the Dartford Warbler and Woodlark, the three native species of snake, and muntjac and sika deer all call the area home. The best way for you to explore the forest and its wildlife is by using the many miles of public paths, or the two rivers that cut through the landscape. For an even closer look at animals, you should check some of the wildlife centres in and around the forest. At the Liberty's Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre, as the name suggests, you can see a wide range of birds of prey and reptiles, while Longdown Activity Farm allows you to get hands on with all sorts of cute and cuddly farm animals. Aside from the wildlife, the area has a strong and proud rural culture that simply must be experienced. The way for you to do this is to head into the towns and villages, meet the locals, sample their fare and get involved in their events.
Our Top Picks in The New Forest
We want you to enjoy the best that The New Forest has to offer and so here's a small selection of our favourite things to see and do;
New Forest Tour Bus
During the summer months the open-top bus tour is the perfect way for you to give your legs a rest and see the forest from a completely new perspective. Sit back, relax and take in the open countryside, lush woodland, scenic coastline and historic villages. You can jump off anywhere you want to explore further on foot and then catch another bus later in the day to continue the tour, all on the same ticket.
New Forest Show
The annual agricultural spectacle, also known as the Hampshire County Show, runs for three days in July and is the flagship event in the area’s busy calendar of markets, fairs and shows. You shouldn’t miss the chance to mingle with more than 100,000 visitors and celebrate traditional country pursuits, crafts, produce and entertainment. Attractions include show jumping and livestock competitions.
New Forest Wildlife Park
Perched on the edge of the New Forest, the wildlife park is a great way for you to explore the native and past-native wildlife of Britain, as well as otters and owls from around the world. You can watch otters swimming underwater, ferrets chasing their tails, harvest mice home-making, owls nesting and deer grazing. The park is one of the UK’s leading institutions in the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. It is also involved in several conservation projects and breeding programmes.
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