A guide to finding the best autumn colours in the New Forest.

Autumn at Blackwater Arboretum, New Forest.

Where are the best areas in the New Forest for autumn colours?

In the past, having visited only one or two specific areas of the New Forest to see the autumn colours, this time I wanted to find the ‘best’ places. Of course there are lots of bits of the Forest that look great in the autumn but – and this is subjective of course – I think that beech trees put on the best display.

Usually I’ve headed straight to Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive, near Lyndhurst. This year I (mostly) steered clear of Bolderwood and ventured to areas of the Forest that I either hadn’t been to before, or hadn’t been to for a long time. That included Puttles Bridge, Ober Water, Aldridge Hill Inclosure and Broomy Inclosure (near the High Corner Inn at Linwood).

Bolderwood


Bolderwood has huge amounts of beech trees and is well worth a visit in all seasons, but especially in the autumn. This is why I’ve returned for several autumns in a row.

Areas within Bolderwood include Mark Ash Wood, Wooson’s Hill Inclosure, Church Moor, North Oakley Inclosure, Smoky Hole, Hart Hill, Anderwood Inclosure, Knightwood Inclosure, Bolderwood Grounds, No Man’s Walk, Ferny Knapp, Dark Hat, Stockyford Green, Knight Wood and Pound Hill. Just the names themselves encourage you to visit!

To be honest I’m never sure exactly which area of Bolderwood I’m in at any one time, but that’s probably because I never have a detailed map with me. Nor does it really matter where I am, as it’s all very picturesque.

At the Lyndhurst A35 end of Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive is the Knightwood oak, one of the largest trees in the New Forest.

Tree of Gold I - Hidden New Forest @ Bolderwood.

‘Tree of Gold’. A beautiful golden-leaved beech tree at Bolderwood, New Forest.

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive & Blackwater Arboretum


Situated just off the A35 and not far from Lyndhurst, this part of the New Forest is well worth a visit. Do get there early though, as it gets very busy since it’s a well-publicised area.

Some bits of the New Forest are quite Hobbit like, especially where dens made from sticks and leaves have been propped up against trees. There are a lot of these dens at Rhinefield, near the main Blackwater car park (which also has public loos). I do wonder who made these dens and how long ago, because some are pretty robust and are set in secluded and sheltered spots, so could have been there for quite some time.

Add in the tall trees: giant redwoods and some of the oldest Douglas fir trees in the country and it makes for an amazing New Forest walk – not just in the autumn, but at any time.

Autumnal beech trees at Blackwater Arboretum, Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, New Forest.

Autumnal beech trees at Blackwater Arboretum, Rhinefield, New Forest.

 

Puttles Bridge and Aldridge Hill Inclosure


Puttles Bridge can be quite busy, depending on what time of day you get there. Venture northwards off the beaten track towards Aldridge Hill Inclosure and you’ll be rewarded with glorious autumn colours and not so many people.

Remember to take a camera because, if you don’t, you’ll certainly regret it!

Autumn at Aldridge Hill Inclosure, New Forest.

Autumn at Aldridge Hill Inclosure, New Forest.

 

Broomy Inclosure & Dockens Water


Broomy Inclosure is near to the High Corner Inn, at Linwood. To get there head down the track off the main Linwood road towards the pub, park in the car park nearby and walk down the path northwards (away from the pub).

Take a right-hand turn just before the sign that says “Access to Private properties only”. That is the start of Broomy Inclosure, where numerous beech trees and the meandering Dockens Water awaits you.

Beech trees at Broomy Inclosure, Linwood, Hampshire.

Beech trees in early morning sunshine at Broomy Inclosure, Linwood, Hampshire.

Great autumn colours wherever you go in the New Forest…


Above are just a few of the places in the New Forest that have amazing autumn colours. Of course it also depends on the weather, because what’s good one year might not be so good the next.

Because of the bad weather I thought 2020 was going to be disappointing, but despite the huge amounts of rain and wind early on in the season, I still managed to get some New Forest autumn colour photos that I’m pleased with.

Even towards the end of November there were still quite a few leaves clinging on and the green moss, especially, seemed particularly vibrant. There are still huge amounts of fallen leaves that adorn the forest floor, like a gorgeous russet-coloured carpet, and these will be around for a long time yet. Don’t let rain put you off either, because it just deepens the colours.

Wherever you go within the New Forest the autumn colours never cease to disappoint, but I do believe the areas I’ve mentioned above contain some of the best trees for a stunning display.

Already, I’m really looking forward to autumn 2021 in the New Forest.