The New Forest is a great place to explore by foot, and there are lots of great books about the area to enable you to really get the most out of your walk in the New Forest.
Walking in the New Forest describes 30 walks covering all areas of the New Forest, suitable for walkers of all abilities. You can find more information here
This fairly easy walk leads you through the peaceful woods on the northern edge of the New Forest National Park where it dips into Wiltshire. Along the way the walk passes through Langley Wood National Nature Reserve with its mix of broadleaved trees and varied wildlife, as well as visiting the little hamlet of Hamptworth with its picturesque, thatched Cuckoo Inn and duck pond. Unlike most of the national park, these woods are not open access, and the walk follows public rights of way throughout.
Langley Wood and Hamptworth Walk - New Forest North
- Start/finish Small roadside lay-by (SU 219 203) on the Redlynch to Hamptworth road beside the River Blackwater, or the Cuckoo Inn (SU 243 196)
- Distance 8.5km (5¼ miles) or 8.9km (5½ miles)
- Time 2½hrs or 2¾hrs
- Maps OS Explorer OL22 and 131
- Refreshments Cuckoo Inn, Hamptworth (01794 390302)
From the roadside lay-by, beside the bridge over the River Blackwater, cross over the road and go through a gap in the hedge to head south-west along a path signposted for Back Lane, following the hedge on the left. At the far end of the field cross a footbridge over the River Blackwater and keep ahead through the trees. The River Blackwater rises just east of Redlynch in Wiltshire and flows eastwards, mostly outside the national park, to join the River Test near Totton.
Cross a stile and head along the enclosed path to cross another stile. Go between the houses and turn left along the lane, soon passing a picturesque, red-brick thatched cottage (Redwings). Continue down the lane, passing another thatched cottage (The Old Dairy), and keep along the track. Ignore the path off to the left, and at the track junction keep straight on to reach a split beside a byway sign. Continue straight on along the left fork, following the rhododendron-lined track; marked on the map, though not visible from the walk, is Hamptworth Lodge over to the left. Keep ahead along the main track to join a surfaced lane at Home Farm (SU 234 192).
The present Hamptworth Lodge was rebuilt in 1910 in traditional Jacobean style, although the estate, which covers 3000 acres of woodland, dates back several centuries (limited public opening in the summer for guided tours).
Continue straight on down the lane and just before the house on the left, turn left up the bank to follow a wide grassy path signposted to Elmtree Farm. Continue between the fence and hedge, later with trees to the right to reach a gate and path junction at the far side of the field. Do not go through the gate, but turn right down through the trees, ignoring a crossing tack to rejoin the lane. Turn left and at the junction beside the Wesleyan Chapel dated 1876 keep left (straight on), following Lyburn Road and soon passing Manor Farm to reach a T-junction (SU 244 196).
Have a look round the hamlet of Hamptworth. To the right is a small duck pond and thatched house and to the left is a small green with footpath map and the very picturesque 18th-century thatched Cuckoo Inn – in the past this has been the village school and village shop. The footpath map was placed here by the Redlynch Millennium Committee in association with the parish council and Salisbury College to celebrate the third millennium.
Cross over the road a few metres to the left and take the path opposite, passing through the hedge to a kissing gate and a footpath sign for Landford. Continue diagonally right across the field and just before the top right corner turn right through a large gate and then left for a few metres, to a signed path junction. Go left following the field edge on the left and turn right at the corner heading downhill.
In the trees, cross a bridge over the River Blackwater and continue up along the track for 500m, ignoring any routes to the left and right. Go through the large gate and head diagonally left to follow the hedge on the right towards North Common Farm. At the field corner with two gates, turn right through the gate on the right into a field and then left following the field edge on the left to cross a stile in the corner. Turn left along the farm track, passing some farm buildings, and continue straight on through the large gate to follow a track down to a four-way track junction (SU 243 206).
Go straight on along the gravel track with a golf course on both sides. Ignore all crossing gravel paths and continue along a path down through the trees. Cross a stream via the footbridge and follow the narrow path through the trees, passing a sign for Langley Woods National Nature Reserve. Continue along the well-signed path, with trees to the right and golf course to the left, later following a sunken path gently uphill.
Although Langley Woods National Nature Reserve now lies within the national park, it was originally part of the Royal Forest of Melchet until the 16th century. The reserve contains a mix of both pedunculate and sessile oak, along with small-leaved lime and hazel. It is under minimum intervention management, where the felling and planting of trees is avoided and dead wood is allowed to rot where it falls. The woodland supports many plants and animals, from wood anemone, wood spurge and bluebells to silver-washed fritillary butterflies, common lizards and dormice, as well as deer and three species of woodpecker.
Join a track and keep straight on to pass a kissing gate beside a large gate and continue along the lane. Where the lane bends left go right through a kissing gate to pass another sign for Langley Woods National Nature Reserve. Follow the track bounded by old earth banks to reach a marker post at a fork in the path (SU 232 206). These old medieval boundary banks were built to guide commoner's stock when they were being moved between the open commons.
Here there is a choice of routes: to continue on the main walk or take the alternative, slightly longer route.
- To continue with the main walk fork left and head down through the trees, passing on your left an area dominated by alders (they prefer the wet soils here). Cross the footbridge and start climbing through an area of sweet chestnut trees and past a stand of Corsican pine. Keep straight on at the crossing path and follow the path as it bears to the right through an area of coppiced small-leaved lime and hazel. Turn left at the T-junction (the alternative route joins from the right), and shortly afterwards go through a kissing gate to the parking area.
- Alternative route: at SU 232 206 take the right fork (straight on) and follow the circular walk signs in a semi-circle, before heading south to rejoin the main walk not far from the parking area.