The New Forest was once a Royal Hunting forest. It is one of the best places in England to find these ancient and giant trees.
The National Park is home to hundreds of ancient trees who have stood the test of time, providing some of our greatest living history. You can find a variety of different tree species across the forest such as mighty redwoods, oaks, beech, yew, holly and many more.
The Woodland Trust have a great guide about ancient trees here.
Here is a tree-tracker map of ancient trees in the New Forest so you can plan your walk.
We suggest you hunt down the mighty Knightwood Oak, also known as the ‘Queen of the Forest’. It’s over 500 years old and where the kings of the past used to shelter and rest under it’s branches during a hunt.
The Queen can be found about 2.4 miles WSW of Lyndhurst on the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive and is impressive all year round.
Bolderwood Ornamental Drive is also home to the Bolderwood deer sanctuary, the beautiful trees and wildlife that can be found here make for perfect photo opportunities.
Near Sunnydell Cottage – There are 5 within a couple of hours walking distance. 3 have public access and are some of the biggest in the National Park.
Near our coastal houses – There are 11 publicly accessible and within walking distance.
Or you can visit the most famous one. The Knightwood Oak with these directions: It is along the Ornamental Drive, if you take the A35 Christchurch road from Lyndhurst for approximately 3 miles take the right hand turning signed to Bolderwood and the Knightwood Oak car park is the first car park on the left hand side. From the car park which is only a short walk away there is a compact gravel track which is suitable for wheelchair and pushchair users which will lead to the largest oak tree (7.4m girth) in the New Forest and one of the oldest too – the Knightwood Oak.
The Knightwood oak is a perfect example of the unique art of ‘pollarding’ which is the traditional way of harvesting wood without killing the tree. The area is well inclosed so it makes an ideal cover to have a nice picnic amongst some of the oldest trees in the New Forest.
There is also a short woodland walk from the Knightwood Oak car park.
The history of the forest
In 1079 William The Conqueror came to The New Forest and named the area his ‘new hunting forest’ – 1000 years later his ‘Nova Foresta’ still retains the same mystery and romance that enticed him.
The New Forest is one of the few places in England where the ancient landscape has remained relatively unchanged by modern day society. You will still find a mass of beautiful woodlands, heathlands and even the practice of commoning is still very much an aspect of New Forest life.
In autumn you might find pigs on your walk. They are turned out from fields, into the forest to eat the acorns.
The ancient system established by William The Conqueror to protect and manage the woodlands and wilderness heaths, is still in place today. With the supporting efforts of the Verderers, Agisters and Commoners, literally the judges, stockmen and land users of the forest this system has been upheld.
Whilst you’re walking around the forest you’ll find many other lovely trees too. Here are a couple of our favourites: