Roam the hidden trails of the New Forest  holiday cottages


Roam the hidden trails of the New Forest

Kate W 02 October 2019

With endless natural spaces for a game of fetch, quaint towns and villages to explore, as well as New Forest ponies to meet, your canine companion will be raring to go on your next walkies the moment you arrive in this fantastic county.

Strike out on a coastal walk so you and Fido can watch the mighty waves and play on the sand and shingle beaches, or a country walk with a pub where you can order a well-deserved pub lunch after the hike – your dog snoozing under the table by your feet.

Beaulieu, Lymington and Woodgreen are all idyllic villages offering beautiful trails to explore. Walking is so popular that you can even download the New Forest walks app to help you navigate while adventuring across this county.

All the walking routes in this post can be categorised as easy or moderate, due to the relatively flat terrain throughout the region. There are very few challenging walks to be found here, however, there are plenty of long walks with dogs if you fancy raising your heart rate.

We’ve put together a selection of the best dog walks in the New Forest, so take a look through our top ten list and find your favourite trail for you and your doggo.

Whilst on a paw-friendly holiday to the New Forest, you’ll need a cosy cottage that’ll suit you and your pup. Browse our dog-friendly holiday cottages in the New Forest and find the ideal walker’s retreat for your next trip.

New Forest cottages

1.     Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard Walk

Buckler's Hard dog walk

If you’re looking for a New Forest walk with a pub, this is a great choice. A pleasant riverside ramble along the Beaulieu River from one pretty village to another, both with cosy dog-friendly pubs where you can end your walk.

Why your dog will love this: Your dog will enjoy meeting other dogs and their pet parents along this popular trail, and having a snooze afterwards in a local pub.

Terrain: A pleasant, flat route passing historic houses along the way.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 4-mile return trip

Ideal for: A romantic walk for couples with your pup by your side.

In addition: Dog-friendly pubs, cafes, toilets and parking.

Stay nearby: Old Telephone Exchange, Beaulieu (sleeps 2)


For more great pubs throughout the region, check out our guide to New Forest dog-friendly places to eat.

New Forest pubs

2.     Sea Air Trail, Lymington

Sea Air Trail dog walk

During this coastal walk from Lymington across to Milford-on-Sea, you’ll pass through beautiful Keyhaven Nature Reserve where you can enjoy coastal scenery, including the saltmarshes, and you might even spot a few rare birds.

Why your dog will love this: This exciting coastal walk offers your dog the chance to get salty paws while exploring the shingle spit as well as take in the fresh sea air.

Terrain: Gravelled paths and grassy country lanes (which can get muddy). There’s also the opportunity to walk along the shingle spit to visit Hurst Castle.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5 miles

Ideal for: A romantic walk along the seafront with your playful pup in tow – a lead may be required to keep your dog safe while by the coast.

In addition: Lymington, the start point of this walk, offers shops and eateries on its high street and plenty of other amenities - you could even take a dip in the 18th-century Sea Water Baths.

Stay nearby: Sailor's Retreat, Lymington (sleeps 6)

3.     New Forest walk in Brockenhurst

New Forest walk in Brockenhurst walk for dogs

There are plenty of delightful dog-friendly walks in Brockenhurst for you to choose from but, for this, we've picked a New Forest walk with a pub. Passing by interesting local landmarks like Setley Plain and the South Weirs, you’ll eventually return to the centre of Brockenhurst where there are a few pubs to choose from.

Why your dog will love this: It’s one of the longer routes on this list so is bound to give your canine companion a good leg stretch - they can also relax with a peaceful nap afterwards. With a nature reserve along the way, your dog will have the chance to enjoy a run about or, if you bring a few snacks or a picnic, you and the pup might enjoy a pit stop in this unspoilt natural area.

Terrain: Level ground with the potential to get muddy, some gentle climbs. 

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Distance: 6 miles or 7.5 miles depending if you begin at the Parish Church or in the centre of the village (respectively).

Ideal for: A countryside hike with a few friends or a family adventure.

In addition: Brockenhurst is one of the largest villages in the New Forest and has pubs, car parks, public toilets, shops and even a post office.

Stay nearby: Littlewell, Brockenhurst (sleeps 6)

4.     Wilverley Inclosure, Brockenhurst

Wilverley Inclosure dog walks

A second fantastic walk in Brockenhurst that you and your canine companion will love. Venture through this beautiful forest for a woodland walk.

Why your dog will love this: There’s a dog ‘Activity Trail’, which is an obstacle course for you and your canine companion to have a go at. Besides overcoming the course, your dog will have a great time exploring the forest, wandering in and out of the trees and sniffing out animal trails.

Terrain: This woodland is crisscrossed with wide gravel paths, making it great for cyclists.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.6 miles

Ideal for: Family woodland walks or a group hike – bring the whole dog pack along!

In addition: Free parking at Forestry Commission Car Park where there’s also a toilet block.

Stay nearby: The Cider Press, Sway (sleeps 7) - 2.5 miles away

5.     Burley Village Walk

Burley Village Walk for dogs

There are a few New Forest walks in Burley, but this is a top dog choice as it skirts the edge of the beautiful village, making the most of the rural views yet remaining close to amenities.

Why your dog will love this: It’s a varied walk traversing natural spaces where your dog can be let off the lead, and it passes through the village where you may meet other dog walkers.  

Terrain: A mix of heather moorland and concrete paths, with some gentle uphill climbs.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 4.5-mile circular route

Ideal for: Romantic hikes and family rambles - it’s a perfect first-day activity for getting to know the local area.

In addition: Pubs and tea rooms, car park with public toilets, cycle hire, cider farm and shops.

Stay nearby: The Old Chemist, Burley (sleeps 5)

6.     Tall Trees Trail, Blackwater

Tall Trees Trail for dog-friendly walking

The beautiful Tall Trees Trail in the New Forest is a short and sweet walk for you and your dog to enjoy through atmospheric woodland among mighty Douglas fir and redwoods.

Why your dog will love this: Let your dog race about through the trees, it’ll be great fun bounding about the undergrowth and they might even spot a few squirrels!

Terrain: Flat, gravelled path you can follow.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.5 miles

Ideal for: Families, as children will love exploring amongst the trees as much as the dogs!

In addition: A car park and places to sit and rest along the trail.

Stay nearby: Clares Cottage, Lyndhurst (sleeps 2) – 4 miles away

7.     New Forest walk in Lyndhurst - Parish Walk

New Forest walk in Lyndhurst for dogs

Enjoy a stroll around this pretty New Forest village among rural countryside and passing quaint cottages. There are three dog-friendly pubs in this large village so you and you four-legged friend can enjoy a traditional pub lunch afterwards.

Why your dog will love this: At the start/end of this circular walk, there’s an open parkland where you’ll find New Forest ponies grazing. Inquisitive pups will be intrigued by meeting these giant creatures, and there’s space for a game of fetch or a kickabout. 

Terrain: It varies from country lanes, crossing a couple of busy roads, to open fields which can get muddy.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 8.5-mile circular route

Ideal for: It’s a lovely family-friendly choice as it’s a long walk which will satisfy energetic children and pets, and there are amenities in town for hungry tummies.

In addition: Cafés, tea rooms and shops in Lyndhurst - this is a great choice if you’re searching for a walk with a pub as there are a couple of inns for you to pick from.

Stay nearby: Bench Cottage, Lyndhurst (sleeps 7)

8.     Coastal walk near Southampton - The Solent Way

Coastal walk near Southampton dog walks

Stretching all the way from Milford-on-Sea to Emsworth Harbour, this 60-mile coastal walk may well win the award for longest in the New Forest. Don’t attempt the whole route in one go (unless you fancy dedicating a couple of days of your holiday to it!) - it’s been divided into these eight easy sections.

We’ve chosen the ‘Southampton to Hamble-le-Rice’ section as it has plenty of variety for you and your canine companion to enjoy, from the bustling atmosphere of a coastal town to the sand/shingle waterfront and peaceful parkland nearer Hamble-le-Rice.

Why your dog will love this: Digging in sand, splashing about in waves and breathing in that salty sea air, it’s a fantastically fun walk for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy.

Terrain: Level ground, mostly flat concrete with shingle beach that you might want to traverse.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 7 miles 

Ideal for: One man/woman and his/her dog – with big cargo ships coming and going, and people going about their business on the shore, it’s a chance to take in the sights and sounds of this port city. At times, it may be worth keeping your dog on a lead while walking alongside this mighty and unpredictable stretch of water.

In addition: Due to the city location, there are plenty of car parks, shops, public toilets and places to eat at the beginning of this route. Despite its village status, there are a couple of car parks and shops in Hamble-le-Rice as well as a couple of riverfront pubs where you and your dog can grab a well-deserved bite to eat.

Stay nearby: Sandalwood, Hythe (sleeps 5) – 11 miles


9.     Hatchet Green and Woodgreen

Hatchet Green and Woodgreen walk for dogs

Explore the rural landscape between these idyllic peaceful villages in the north of the New Forest and you could finish this walk at the dog-friendly pub in Woodgreen, The Horse and Groom.

Why your dog will love this: The open spaces of this parkland are ideal for a game of fetch so your dog will love running about here – just keep an eye on them when you approach the river as it is not fenced.

Terrain: Tracks that can get muddy and gentle climbs.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.5 miles

Ideal for: One or two humans who would like to enjoy a long, quiet country walk with their canine companion.

In addition: A pub and a village shop in Woodgreen.

Stay nearby: Woodgreen Old Chapel, Fordingbridge (sleeps 4)

10. Abbotswell To Fritham

Abbotswell to Fritham dog walk

One now for historic hounds. You’ll pass a bomb crater and tumulus while following this New Forest walking route, winding up at a pub where you and your playful pup can take a rest stop before starting out on the return journey.

Why your dog will love this: It takes you up gentle climbs, through heathland, so your pup will enjoy looking out and surveying its territory.

Terrain: A well-gravelled path with moderate gradients.

Difficulty: Easy/moderate

Distance: 9 miles

Ideal for: Groups of humans will enjoy the views offered by this adventurous heathland walk as much as the dogs! Book ahead so you can stop for a foodie break in the popular walkers’ pub, The Royal Oak, in Fritham.

In addition: Car park and pub at each end of this walk.

Stay nearby: Lavender Lodge - New Forest, Fordingbridge (sleeps 4)

Top dog holidays in the New Forest

Now you’ve discovered our top 10 New Forest dog walks and chosen your favourite, it’s time to find a fantastic holiday cottage nearby.

Will you take a trip to Burley, Lyndhurst or Southampton? Wherever you go, you and your four-legged friend are sure to enjoy a wonderful walking holiday. Browse our dog-friendly cottages in the New Forest.

New Forest cottages


If you’re feeling inspired to keep planning your exciting New Forest getaway, return to our guide to the New Forest for more interesting information about this fantastic county.

New Forest guide


Wherever you may be in the UK, we've got you covered for dog walks with our guide to the UK's best dog walks.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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