The New Forest — South-West Gravel Gold
Bike Touring Highlight
Bike Touring Highlight (Segment)
Katherine Moore planned a gravel ride.
April 14, 2020
Well-known as an off-road mecca on the South Coast, the New Forest is a corking area to explore on bike, horse or foot. Great swathes of moor and grassland are intercepted by deciduous woodland, parkland and plantations. Ponies and cattle roam semi-wild across the moorland and roads, and the gravel riding here really is second-to-none.
I rode this route back in January with the Woods Cyclery on one of their Sunday shop rides, while recording Unpaved Podcast. Co-owner Tom Farrell really knows how to put on a good gravel route in his backyard, so we can thank him for this Tour, plus most of the photos too!
For anyone who hasn’t visited, the New Forest is like a giant trail centre. The gravel roads that criss-cross the moorland and woodlands are well draining year-round, there are brilliant cafes and pubs in almost every village or town and you can link them all up for an almost tarmac-free ride!
This route is a loop from Lyndhurst, where you can say hello to the folks at The Woods Cyclery and even get any last minute supplies you may need for the ride. If you’re visiting by train, the nearest station is Brockenhurst, a short ride away.
You’ll start by heading north-east out of Lyndhurst, a short lane section leading to the gravel road alongside Highland Water which you’ll follow to the north through Holmhill Inclosure. You won’t find any major climbs or descents on this route, just gradual and steady-going inclines which make this a fairly casual ride. At least if you ride it at a casual pace!
After crossing the road, you’ll ride a loop clockwise through the Milkham Inclosure, a combination of open gravel roads with far-reaching views and forest tracks. Enjoy the long and fast downhill section back toward the main road.
After crossing back across more of the forest, the route ends with some more cracking doubletrack to the south, past Rhinefield Ornamental Drive. I’ve put in a detour to the Oak Inn for a something to eat and drink, before heading back to Lynhurst where you’ll also find lots of great cafes and pubs for refreshment.