Hampshire's New Forest National Park is an exceptionally popular cycling destination - and it's easy to see why.
Covering 566 kilometres squared, it's made up of woodland, grassland, heathland and woodland enclosure.
There's miles of relatively flat roads which add up to a perfect playground for groups of mixed ability, and with winter weather in full swing it's a good place to head if you're looking to clock up base miles without an uphill struggle.
If you're looking for summer targets, the area plays host to two events run by our sister company, UKCE.
Routes vary from 30 to 80 miles, with the promise of a food village, beer tent and live band for all to enjoy on return.
Much later in the year (ideal for those setting a distance target), there's the New Forest 100, on Saturday September 19. Whilst the hero event of the day is the century long ride, there are 30 and 60 mile routes on offer too.
Buy why is it worth a visit? Here's five reasons...
You'll go quite fast
There's much, much more to a good ride than a high average speed. However, getting tucked into a nice rhythm, perhaps with a steady chaingang or paceline among friends, is a fun way to spend a morning and does come with a certain satisfaction.
The highest point within the New Forest National Park is Pipers Wait, near Nomansland - its summit stands at 129 meters (423 feet). Which is, erm, not very high.
The roads are stunningly flat, so if you want a fast century ride, or would like to keep a group of varying abilities together, this is the one.
... or, chill out and enjoy the views
Flat roads don't mean you have to go fast - if that's not your style, you can just enjoy the expanses of heathland and woodland either side.
The park, and its surrounds, were classed as a 'National Character Area' by Natural England, thanks to its geodiversity - it'd take you a long time to get bored of your surrounds here.
Wild ponies make good companions
Nobody "owns the roads" anywhere, but in the New Forest, the wild ponies have a pretty good claim on the area, and everyone has to look out for them.
The park is home to the indigenous New Forest pony, as well as many other breeds of wild horse and cattle.
The beautiful creatures can roam as they please, over fields, through villages - and wondering across the road. They give the park a unique quality and are lovely to admire - just take care to give them plenty of space.
You'll roll through quaint villages
You won't find any sprawling towns in the New Forest - mostly small villages - the largest three being Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Burley.
Rest assured: there's plenty of options for coffee and cake stops.
The UKCE sportives begins at the rather spectacular Somerley House in Ringwood - a 1750 designed stately home.
Riders cross the River Avon, thread through the lanes to explore the villages of Linwood and Fritham, with those on the long route heading off to Farley, West Winterslow and West Dean. The route back re-crosses the River Avon, to visit Cranborne, Verwood and Three Legged Cross.
Make a weekend of it
The New Forest is a popular tourist location - which means that it's well set up for those looking for a good meal and a comfortable bed for the night.
Our UKCE team has of course been visiting every year, and thus had a chance to sample the local delicacies.
Recommendations include Brockenhurst’s Pig Hotel and Lime Wood Hotel for sumptuous food, whilst the village of Ringwood can offer up a host of pizza restaurants and cafes if you're after something more casual.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
Uttrup Ludwig takes a brilliant stage win at the Tour of Scandinavia
The Danish champion takes the mountain top win and the overall lead with one stage to go after an impressive showing from the Brits
By Owen Rogers • Published
Specialized Align II review - budget friendly helmet brings MIPS to the people
Not only do you get MIPS at an almost unbelievably low price, but this helmet is well made and a good fit too
By Paul Grele • Published