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The New Forest offers over 150 square miles of dense woodland, luscious green pastures and a rich diversity of wildlife; these are some of the reasons why millions of people visit this stunning part of Britain year after year. While it may seem a land of peace and solitude, there are still plenty of activities to get stuck into for those keen on embracing the great outdoors. With this in mind, here are eight of the best methods of doing just that during your New Forest cottage holiday.

Walking
Among the best ways to explore the natural landscape the New Forest offers is by walking, particularly as there are so many different routes that look to provide experiences for all abilities. Another reason why walking is so popular in the forest is the lack of cost; the only thing you are likely to purchase is a route map from your nearest tourist information centre.

If you are keen to make the most of the wonderful walks found across the New Forest, why not visit the New Forest Explorers Guide website? It offers greater detail on a whole host of routes as well as information on other New Forest activities you can enjoy.

Horse Riding
If you would rather explore the forest with your feet off the ground, why not get on the saddle and enjoy a spot of horse-riding? While it’s not advisable to approach the 3,000 or so wild ponies that roam the land, visiting a recommended stable will allow you to enjoy a fun day out while in the safe hands of experienced handlers. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned expert, Burley Villa School of Riding have a number of rides available for you to enjoy during your English country holidays, offering the chance to experience both English and Western riding alongside the presence of expert handlers.

Cycling
For an activity ideal for the whole family to enjoy, cycling will never fail to disappoint. Part of the reason why cycling is one of the best things to do in the New Forest is because it can be done all year round; from the soaring summer sunshine to the crisp and frosty mornings of winter, each season offers a stunning backdrop that you will never tire of admiring. There’s also the variety of routes to consider, from the leisurely country roads for those who want to take it easy to the endless off-road tracks, which are sure to get the adrenaline pumping.

If you would rather not take your car along with you, there are many cycle hire facilities that are sure to be able to accommodate your cycling needs; New Forest Cycle Hire is regarded among the best local names in the business. To find out more about making the most of cycling or how to enjoy any other activities in the Forest, click here to visit the New Forest official visitor site.

Golf
There’s no better sport to enjoy in the sunshine than a round of golf, and with the list of highly-regarded golf courses located in the forest, be sure to bring along your clubs and get into the swing of things during your stay in the region. With courses varying in ability, it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner in the bunker or consider yourself great on the green as one of the courses is bound to offer the perfect challenge.

Among the best regarded in the region is Brockenhurst Manor Golf Club, which has been designed by the great Harry Colt and provides excellent conditions for all handicaps.

Deer Safari
As already mentioned, the New Forest is home to a spectacular diversity of wildlife – with the most widespread being roe, fallow or sika deer.

With deer being notoriously difficult to spot, one way you are guaranteed to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals is through the New Forest Deer Safari at Burley Park. Costing just £3.00 per person and running from 12 noon to 5pm each day through the summer holidays, it provides a 30 minute ride by tractor and trailer where you can admire the farm’s herd of red and fallow deer. There’s no need to book in advance if you are planning to do the safari – just visit Sopley Farm on the day. Please note that the last safari tends to begin at around 4pm each day.

Kayaking
Another family favourite is kayaking, and if you are introducing your family to kayaking for the first time, heading to the New Forest Water Park in Fordingbridge means that you can learn to paddle in the safe hands of their expert instructors, who offer both basic tuition and advanced lessons. While you are free to bring your own equipment to use on their freshwater lake, both kayaks and wetsuits are available to hire upon arrival. Because of popularity, it is advisable to book your kayaking experience in advance.

Archery
If you’ve got a good eye and a steady hand, a spot of archery could well be the activity you’ve been looking for. Fortunately for you, this is exactly what you could enjoy at either Beaulieu or Burley, where a 90 minute session alongside a qualified coach is the perfect method to help the whole family hit the bulls-eye. In a similar situation to kayaking lessons, be sure to confirm your session before arrival to avoid disappointment. For more information, click here to visit the New Forest Activities website.

Snowsports
While Snowtrax in Christchurch isn’t strictly in the boundaries of the New Forest, the fact that it’s just a short drive away means that its outstanding dry ski slope has to be mentioned. From skiing and snowboarding to ringos and ski-bob, a day out at this great family friendly centre is sure to offer an unforgettable experience during your cottage holiday in the New Forest.

Image Credit: New Forest District Council