With the summer holiday’s drawing to a close, many cyclists will have had the opportunity to cram in some miles overseas, or at least lust over the adventures of friends (and foes) sharing their sunny exploits via social media.
Regardless if you managed to get away for a warm weather cycling holiday, there’s no reason to feel like it’s all over now. The UK is vast, and there are loads of brilliant Great British destinations worth checking out.
One such must-ride area is Hampshire’s New Forest National Park.
The New Forest covers 566 kilometres squared, and it’s made up of woodland, grassland, heathland and woodland enclosure.
The area is host to our sister company UKCE’s New Forest Sportive 100, held on Saturday September 14. Riding the event is a great way to enjoy the park without the hassle of route planning or packing your own snacks – and there’s routes from 30 to 100 miles.
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.
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.