The New Forest was given National Park status in 2005, which means that the strongest level of protection possible in the UK has been given for this 218 square miles of grassland, heathland, bogs and woods. Its future is completely secure for generations to come to enjoy the area as much as we do today.
The New Forest National Park has a coastline that runs along the sunny south coast of England, mainly in the County of Hampshire. The popular coastal resort of Bournemouth, the sailing center at Christchurch, and the major port of Southampton, are all a short drive away.
Domestic animals are permitted to roam freely through the forest. The people who own them are called "commoners" You can hardly turn a corner without seeing ponies, cows or donkeys wandering in the road. Visitors to the area can also enjoy the wildlife that lives through the forest. You can catch sight of rare red squirrels at Brownsea Island, watch deer wander freely throughout many areas, listen out for the famous Dartford Warbler singing his merry song, and, if you tread carefully, many reptiles and insects including the rare smooth snake can be found in the undergrowth.
You can pursue almost any outdoor interest or activity whilst staying in the area. There are miles of footpaths, cycle trails, and bridle paths to explore. The area also offers visitors historic houses, gardens, ancient castles, forts, idyllic villages, market towns, Roman villas, country pubs, stunning countryside views and much more.
There are also many rivers and a dramatic coastline to explore with boat trips, fishing, sailing, windsurfing, surfing, yachting, with regular ferries across to the channel islands and the Isle of Wight if you fancy an adventurous day out.
The neighbouring county is Dorset, known for its breathtaking coastline of which there is over 95 miles. Much of this coastline is known as the Jurassic coast and Lulworth Cove in Dorset is a good example of what that means. The Coastline was shaped over a period of almost 250 million years. At Lulworth some of the rock formations are in almost vertical layers. There are over half a million visitors to Lulworth alone each year because of the geological uniqueness of the area. It is one of hundreds of attractions for visitors to the area.
There are many camping sites in the forest for touring caravans and tents as well as caravan parks throughout the area. Children can enjoy rock pooling, cycling, fossil hunting, the beaches, horse riding, wildlife centers, swimming and even ice skating in the winter months. This beautiful area has so much to offer every age group and wherever you stay there is sure to be something close by that will interest you.