The Bolderwood area of the New Forest contains some of the oldest and tallest trees in the forest, as well as being one of the prettiest places there. Free to visit and park, there are walking trails, cycling routes, an abundance of wildlife and of course the deer viewing platform, where you can watch New Forest Rangers feeding the wild deer.
The Bolderwood area is one of the best as it has the full range of New Forest landscapes, from the huge pine and fir woodland which towers over you, to the open heathland with low gorse and heather. There is a lot of space and few buildings, so it can give you that wonderful feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. Narrow tracks weave their way through the greenery, or you can 'off-road' and just wander around to wherever looks the most appealing.
The area is also home to some of the sites of historic interest within the New Forest, most notably the Portuguese Fireplace, the Knightwood Oak and the Canadian War Memorial; you can combine all three of these in a six mile circular walk which includes the deer sanctuary. There are shorter walks on offer too.
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Things to do at Bolderwood (All free)
When is Bolderwood open?
Bolderwood is open every day, all year round. The gates to the car park close at dusk.
How much does it cost to visit Bolderwood?
Bolderwood is free to visit, as are all of the attractions listed above.
How to get to Bolderwood
Postcode: S043 7GQ
Bolderwood is not easy to get to by public transport, with the nearest bus stops being over an hour's walk away; either The Trusty Servant Inn, Minstead which is a 67 min walk or Coach Hill Lane, Burley Street which is an 88 min walk.
Parking: Parking is free but please do consider using the parking machine to make a donation to the Forestry Commission.
Facilities at Bolderwood
Bolderwood is one of the most popular places in the forest - not just for its beauty but also for the facilities it offers, such as a large, free car park and public loos.
There is a large picnic area with wooden picnic benches as well as open spaces to sit on a rug and eat, surrounded by the towering pines. (BBQs are not allowed)
An ice cream van can usually be found at one end of the car park. The other side of the car park is a large open space of grassland and you will often see people in their deckchairs just enjoying the sunshine, or playing games of cricket or rounders.
Walking at Bolderwood
There are short walking trails in Bolderwood on well defined paths suitable for all abilities.
The Deer Watch Trail is just half a mile and is colour coded yellow on wooden posts along the route. The Jubilee Trail is one mile and colour coded blue, and the Radnor Trail is 2 miles and coded red. They are all easy to follow.
The Radnor Trail gets its name from the monument you will find in the woods (at w3w: trudges.charge.icons) to the 7th Earl of Radnor who was Chairman of the Forestry Commission from 1952 until 1963 and Official Verderer of the New Forest from 1964 until 1966.
The title of Official Verderer has been given to the head of the Verderers since the 13th century. Verderers were originally a court within the Forest, authorised by the Crown. They heard cases of criminal offences within the Forest, and their powers were extended in the 17th and 18th centuries to include protection of crown land, commoners rights and forest landscapes. In recent years, they have focused on matters such as maintaining tranquility in the New Forest
Far more fun that the trails however is just wandering off track - there is a huge space to explore of both forest and open land. The woodland in this area is some of the tallest in the New Forest, with towering Scots Pines, Douglas Fir and Redwoods, as well as the more common Beech and Oak. The ground crackles beneath your feet as you step on decaying twigs, crunchy leaves and fallen pinecones. The scent of pine, the warm smell of petrichor and the damp musk of decaying leaves all drift through the breeze as you watch wildlife scurrying away from you, or listen to the birds all around you.
Things to do at/near Bolderwood
All of these can be reached by foot or bike from Bolderwood. They also all have their own car parks (except for the Listening Bench) for people that don't wish to walk the distances.
The Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary (200m from car park)
A short walk from the car park is the deer viewing; a wooden platform where people can watch the deer being fed by a Ranger, usually between 12.30 and 2.30pm. The New Forest has ample food for the deer, but the Forestry Commission feeds a herd here to give visitors the opportunity to see them up close. The platform overlooks a large meadow where a herd of fallow deer tend to graze, who are all used to people. There are no guarantees you will see any, but I have seen some every time I have visited. Information boards describe the different types of deer you may see in the area.
Fallow deer are the most common and have been in the forest since they were introduced in the 10th century by the Normans. It was these that were prized as the 'beast of the chase' in the Medieval period, and they are still the most common deer in the forest.
You may also see the huge Red Deer with magnificent antlers who are the largest native land mammals in the country.
Roe Deer are the quiet ones who forage in the thick undergrowth and who you may only see as you startle them on a walk and they run away from you at speed. Finally are the Sika Deer, introduced from Japan in the last century in error when a pair gifted to the nearby Beaulieu Estate escaped and set up home. If you explore the area, you are likely to see any of these deer around you, not just from the viewing platform.
The Canadian War Memorial (700m from car park)
A short walk north will take you to the Canadian War Memorial, a wooden cross with flags, poppies, photographs and poems for the men of the Canadian Infantry who were stationed in the area in 1944 until D-Day and who suffered terrible losses on Juno Beach in Normandy. It is a simple and poignant reminder of the role the New Forest has played in both World Wars. Read more about the Canadian War Memorial >>
The Portuguese Memorial Fireplace (about 1.5 miles from car park)
The memorial fireplace is an unusual memorial to World War I, as it is all that remains of a hutted camp occupied by a Portuguese Army unit during the war. This fireplace from their cookhouse is a reminder of the men who lived and worked there, and just how vital a role the timber of the New Forest played in the war. Read more about the Portuguese War Memorial Fireplace >>
The Listening Bench (about 1.7miles from car park)
Only accessible by foot or bike, this is nothing more than a flat bench laid out in the middle of the woods with the word 'Listen' written on it. Lie back in silence for a while and soon the sounds of the forest will be all that you notice - the wind, the birds, the rustling in the undergrowth. It is a glorious spot for some Forest Bathing.
The New Forest Reptile Centre (about 2 miles from car park)
Free to visit, this is a small wildlife centre which focuses on reptiles you can find in the New Forest - the native lizards, snakes, frogs and toads, including the adder, the only venomous species of snake living in Britain. The centre is not open all year round, check their website for details >>
The Knightwood Oak (about 2.5 miles from car park)
You can walk south either through the woods or along the Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive to get to the Knightwood Oak, the largest and oldest oak tree in the New Forest. Once a prominent Victorian tourist attraction, the tree is now surrounded by a fence to protect it, and a picnic area. Read more about The Knightwood Oak >>