Although it is called the ‘New’ Forest, it is in fact anything but new! It got its name around 1079 in William the Conqueror’s time, but the Forest’s history stretches back further; it was once known by the Saxon name ‘Ytene’, meaning land of the Jutes.

In 2005 it became a National Park, in recognition of its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and the opportunities it gives for people to enjoy it. There is no shortage of things to do in the New Forest, from walking in the woods or across the beautiful heathland, to cycling and horse-riding, as well as visiting places of historical interest, enjoying a meal out and exploring the coast.

The 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom are jewels in the crown of the landscape, and the New Forest has now joined the family of National Parks alongside such places as the Lake District, Exmoor, Snowdonia and the South Downs. All these National Parks enjoy special protection and distinction.

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History of the New Forest National Park

The New Forest is a uniquely precious and beautiful natural environment, however, it only appears the way it does today because of a rich, tumultuous and sometimes violent human history. From royal hunting ground to a much-treasured local resource, the historic and cultural heritage – including 621 listed buildings – of the New Forest is vast.

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Culture of the New Forest National Park

The long history and unique landscape of the New Forest has helped shape a singular and rich culture. This culture is closely tied into the traditions of the Forests people, and their communing rights, many of which are still alive and in practice today.

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Wildlife of the New Forest National Park

Despite its relatively small area, the New Forest National Park is home to an incredible concentration of different landscapes and natural habitats. Between woodlands, heaths, bogs and mires, farmland, grasslands and coasts, a vast range of interconnecting eco-systems flourish. This makes the Forest haven for a range of wildlife whose breadth is hard to match elsewhere in Western Europe, as well as the celebrated ponies and other livestock.

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Walking Tours of the New Forest National Park

The National Park is home to many interesting walks that take you into the woods, by sea, over heath or by rivers and streams. Browse the New Forest’s more than 30 of the best walking routes using the websites walking route finder. Alternatively you can download the free walking app to your phone which contains 27 routes for you to try. With GPS navigation it shows you where you are on the route in real time as you walk and without mobile phone signal too, perfect for exploring the Forest. Please keep to the main tracks from March to July to protect rare ground nesting birds.

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