Panoramic views of rugged New Forest heath combined with the thick woodland of towering trees, lush ferns and a carpet of pine needles make a walk around Holmsley the ultimate forest experience. On hot, sunny days, we often pass on the overcrowded beach and head to this little haven within the forest instead.
Homsley is probably best known for its campsite, which forms the focus point of one of our favourite walks. There is so much to see in and around Homsley, from the numerous gatherings of ponies and cows to the blanket of purple heather flowers covering the heath in summer.
Holmsley can be found just off the A35 near Hinton. Follow the signs to the campsite but park in the free Holmsley car park just before the campsite.
From the car park, follow the road towards the campsite until you pass it on your left and the road becomes a path. Continue along the path (which will no doubt be blocked some of the way by ponies and cows), until it ends and then keep walking. Ahead of you, you will see a gate leading into the woods. However, turn left before the gate and follow the grassy path through a meadow of small, wiry bushes.
Eventually you will meet the woods and a gravel path running through it. Follow the path for a few minutes until you come to a bridge over a beautiful stream, Avon Water. This is a really picturesque spot, where quite often the only sound is trickling of the water, the humming of insects and wind blowing through the trees.
Continue to follow the path through the woods. If you’re lucky and quiet enough, you may spot a deer or two rushing across the path in front of you.
The trees either side of you eventually give way to signature New Forest heath land. Keep walking and enjoy the spectacular views of the landscape. The path takes you in a loop, so you ultimately meet the stream again over another bridge. Keep walking until the path runs out and there is a thicket of trees on your left. Walking around the trees, you will find yourself back at the car park. It usually takes us about an hour to complete this route, but we are undoubtedly slowed down our seven and three year-olds.
Sometimes we do this walk the other way round, enabling us to stop at the campsite near the end for a well-deserved ice-cream and hot drink from the site shop (which takes card, in case you’ve run out of cash).
We never tire of this route – of watching the wild animals graze and play while marvelling at the contrast in scenery as heath meets forest.
If you’re unfamiliar with this route, make sure you take a map and phone with access to Google maps. There are normally a few dog walkers and horse riders about who could help you out if you get lost, but even in the height of summer this spot remains refreshingly immune from the crowds.
(I have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this post and do not accept liability for any errors or omission. I do not accept any liability for you getting lost or encountering any other problems. )