Updated guidebook to New Forest to hit the shelves

Bradt Guides New Forest

​Bradt Guides’ Slow travel’ series sees one of its books updated in July, with the publication of the second edition of Emily Laurence Baker’s New Forest guide.

“You can still find yourself alone in the silence of woodland, heath or saltmarshes,” Laurence Baker said.

This remains the only comprehensive guidebook to the National Park, which stretches from the edge of the Wiltshire chalk downs in the north to the Solent coast in the south, the Avon Valley in the west and across to Southampton Water in the east. As well as being diverse in terms of landscape, the New Forest is one of the last places where ‘common rights’ of animal grazing continue – with the help of around 4,500 resident ponies.

The second, updated and expanded edition of Bradt’s New Forest – part of the award-winning ‘Slow travel’ series of guides to UK regions – focuses on the peaceful National Park, which is only around 90 minutes from London. Walkers, cyclists, wildlife lovers, families and foodies are all catered for, with coverage of attractions and accommodation options ranging from fine hotels to pop-up campsites where grazing ponies may nose at your tent flap.

Here ponies and cows routinely halt traffic, while donkeys peer into shop windows. Sites of Special Scientific Interest cover more than half of the National Park, and all the UK’s six native reptile species can be found, alongside the largest population of Dartford warblers. Each autumn, in a process known as ‘pannage,’ pigs are released in the Forest to munch on beech mast, chestnuts and most importantly acorns, which are poisonous to ponies and cattle.

Despite the region’s name, the landscape also encompasses 75% of northwestern Europe’s valley mires as well as heathland and the great coastal spit leading to Hurst Castle (where the ghost of King Charles I is said to wander by night). Alternatively, there are distinctive villages from 13th-century Beaulieu, with its Abbey, Palace and National Motor Museum, to Burley, infamous for witches such as Sybil Leek who went around with a jackdaw on her shoulder.

Travel writer and local resident Emily Laurence Baker explains the ‘working Forest’, outlining how various organisations manage the land, how grazing animals have shaped it for centuries, and how the ‘commons’ system functions.

New Forest (Slow Travel) by Emily Laurence Baker will be published on July 7, by Bradt Guides. The paperback retails for £15.99.