We recently spent a few days exploring the New Forest, Hampshire, both on foot and cycling. Of all the different little sections of the New Forest, we spent most of our time around Bolderwood. We did some epic cycles (in thunder & lightning), tested our forest photography skills, got lost in the woods and saw countless wild animals (deer, horses and even a highland cow). It’s my favourite part of the New Forest, and so this is my Bolderwood walks, cycle routes & deer sanctuary guide.
My Favourite Bolderwood New Forest Cycle Route
The New Forest (and particularly the areas around Bolderwood & Burley) are a bit of a haven for bike rides and walks. There are well maintained tracks & trails all over the place that cut through the forest and make it easy to create your own routes.
That said, the negative of this is that it makes it very easy to get lost, as we found out on several occasions… To mitigate this, and to help you plan your own paths, I’d recommend getting an OS map of the area, or equivalent. Fortunately for us there was one at our Air bnb that we took (if it wasn’t for that we’d probably still be stuck in the forest)!
My favourite New Forest cycle route is about 15 kilometres long, and pretty much takes you in a circle.
Key Points of the route:
- Total distance: 15km
- Starting point: Burley
- Mid point: Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
- End point: Burley
The bike ride starts (and ends) at a free car park on Lyndhurst Road. This is about 1km north of Burley, I’ve attached a google maps screenshot below of the exact spot.
- By car – You can get to Burley fairly easily from all over the New Forest. If you are coming from Lyndhurst or Christchurch take the A35, if you are coming from Southampton you can reach it from the A31.
- By train – Nearest train station is Brockenhurst (the main train station in the New Forest), from there you can catch a bus, or cycle (it’s about 11km away) to Burley.
Start of the cycle route:
Starting from the car park you want to take the off-road path that heads through the South Oakley Inclosure. This is roughly heading north east, towards the Bolderwood deer sanctuary.
You should pass over Woolfield Hill, and then cross over Blackensford Brook. After that, follow the trail through the North Oakley Inclosure, and then Bolderwood Farm. Turn right at the car park and you should arrive at the Bolderwood deer sanctuary!
By this point you’re probably about 5km (that’s a fairly rough guess!) into the cycle.
Midway point – Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
Once you reach the Bolderwood deer sanctuary, definitely take some time to try your luck spotting deer! There is a viewing platform there & it can be a nice place to have a picnic or mid-cycle snack. It’s completely free to visit, and so if the weather has taken a turn or you don’t manage to spot anything, you can come back either on a walk or drive and park there.
The deer sanctuary is, unsurprisingly, one of the best places in the New Forest to spot some wild deer. Now I should mention that the New Forest in general is teeming with wildlife. So, whether you have a stop at the Bolderwood deer sanctuary or not, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t spot any deer on your New Forest cycles or walks.
If you’re interested in photography & want to capture photos of the deer be sure to check out some of the photography articles on our website!
From the Bolderwood deer sanctuary, briefly continue heading north east-ish through Bolderwood farm and then from there we turn right and start the cycle ride back to Burley.
Journey back via Bolderwood Ornamental Drive
You want to be on the road, heading for/on the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive. This part of the route is actually my favourite. Bolderwood Ornamental drive is one of the nicest forest spots in the UK (in my opinion). Tall, ancient trees line the route, it’s dark from the tree cover and it gives off a real ‘deep in the wild’ vibe.
While this particular cycle is only on the Bolderwood Ornamental drive for a short while (around 2.5km), there are a number of parking spots, walking trails and picnic benches along the road. I’d recommend coming back in the car, parking up and taking on one of the many New Forest Bolderwood walks through the trees.
After 2.5km you will come across a car park. At this point you want to get off the Bolderwood Ornamental drive to the right and enter the Knightwood Inclosure, where you should take the cycle trail as it heads towards the Anderwood Inclosure (another nice area in the Forest).
After you’ve cycled through the Anderwood Inclosure, you will have gone slightly down a hill to Blackensford Brook. Cross back over the brook and head south / south west towards Lyndhurst Road.
Now you can follow the road back to the car park where you started off this New Forest cycle route, in Burley.
Walks at the Deer Sanctuary
As with cycling, if you’re looking for some New Forest walks to do you are a bit spoilt for choice! There are miles of beautifully kept footpaths and trails that cover the whole forest.
Bolderwood, and the Bolderwood deer sanctuary in particular, is one of the best places for New Forest walks. There are so many paths that circle the deer sanctuary that it makes sense to start any Bolderwood walks that you do from the car park there. As mentioned earlier, it’s free to park and visit!
From there, there are a vast number of walking trails that are fairly straightforward to navigate. I’d recommend walking up hill from the deer sanctuary for a few minutes before taking the first trail that you find on the left. If you take that path downhill, you’ll get a different, more secluded view of the deer sanctuary.
We actually stopped here for a picnic on a cycle ride and were joined by a fully grown Stag! Unfortunately it was chucking it down with rain and our camera isn’t waterproof, so only had my phone! It was standing right in the middle of the path for a while, watching us huddling under a tree with a sandwich trying to stay dry, barely 10m away. What a photo we could’ve got!!
Anyway, if you are into wildlife photography, be sure to bring your kit! It’s not just deer you’ll find here either, we even came across a Highland cow!
Bolderwood walks on the Ornamental Drive
If you’re looking for more walking in the areas near the Bolderwood deer sanctuary then definitely head to the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive and park up in one of the free car parks. As I mentioned previously, this area is my favourite part of the New Forest. It contains the oldest and tallest trees and has stunning walking trails through it.
All the walks here are well signposted so just pick the route that appeals most to you.. My favourite is the Radnor Trial. It’s 2 miles long and coded with red signposts.
Fun fact!! The Radnor Trail is named after the 7th Earl of Radnor. There is also a monument along the trial which pays tribute to him. He was the Official Verderer of the New Forest in the 1960s.
General New Forest Travel Advice From Our Trip
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, I definitely recommend the air bnb that we stayed at. The place is an idyllic little guesthouse in New Forest countryside, just a few minutes drive outside of Lyndhurst.
If you’re looking to camp, you’re in luck… The New Forest is set up perfectly for camping and there are LOADS of camp sites. We actually had some friends staying in the forest at the same time as us with their TentBox. They stayed near Brokenhurst and had a great time!
Generally I would recommend staying around Lyndhurst or Brokenhurst. These are the biggest villages in the New Forest, and are both full of stuff to do for all ages.
I actually don’t have a huge list of food recommendations as we mostly cooked ourselves. That said, a couple of places to eat near Lyndhurst that I would recommend are the Oak Inn pub and The Thai Forest in the high street. The Thai Forest in particular I loved. We had fantastic Thai food, actually some of the best I’ve had (and I have spent many months in Thailand)!
I hope you find this guide to cycle routes and walks around the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary useful. If you’re heading there anytime soon I hope you love it as much as we did!
If you’ve got any questions about anything you’ve read in the article, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Either visit our contact page or message us on Instagram!
One of the founders of People of the Planet. Sharing years of experience in web design, photography and earning on the road! We created People of the Planet to provide a place for all travellers to connect, learn, publish and of course, travel!