Cycling for Gold in the New Forest
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience autumn’s seasonal splendour is from the saddle of a bike. And what better place for an autumn cycle ride than one of England’s leafiest national parks!
This popular there and back ride through the glorious New Forest takes you from the bustling village of Burley, complete with tea rooms, antique shops and forest ponies, along the route of a disused railway line to Brockenhurst. With long off-road sections and following largely along level gravel tracks and tree-lined country lanes, it’s the perfect ride for families and day cyclists to drink in the tranquillity and autumnal beauty of this gorgeous corner of England.
Choose how far you want to go – from a 6-mile to a 17-mile round trip.
There are also great opportunities for birdwatching plus two fabulous tearooms en route! This ride is one of 12 cycle routes included on our New Forest by Bike cycle map.
All the routes featured are recommended by local cycle hire operators and clearly marked on Ordnance Survey scale linked mapping. Price £4.50.
Forest Leisure Cycling, Burley
Hire your bikes from Forest Leisure Cycling situated in the heart of Burley. Prices start from £17.50 for an adult day’s hire. Cyclexperience, located in the railway station at Brockenhurst, also rent bikes.
The village of Burley by Jim Champion
Start: Forest Leisure Cycling, Burley
1. At the War Memorial opposite Forest Leisure Cycling, take the left fork into Pound Lane (signposted Bransgore and Christchurch). Continue past the Forest Teahouse and Cider Pantry on the left and follow the lane out of the village over the heath towards Burbush Hill.
2. After a left hand bend, just before the old railway bridge, turn left into the Forestry Commission Burbush car park. Follow the waymarked cycle track through the car park and down on to the old railway line.
Continue along a sandy cutting to emerge onto a low embankment, with good views out over the boggy heath. This area is very popular with horseriders. Keep your eyes peeled for green woodpeckers, as well as for lapwings, curlews and redshanks, which nest on the heath. The trail rises briefly to the broken brickwork of Greenberry Bridge, which survived the closure of the railway, only to be demolished in 1995 when it became unsafe. Continue to the wooden barriers that guard the minor road crossing at Holmsley Passage, where you can still see short sections of the original railway lines embedded in the road surface.
Along the old railway line to Holmsley
3. Cross the road and continue along the old railway line. The trail becomes more shaded as it runs through an avenue of young oak trees. The track crosses two small bridges that herald the approach to Holmsley Station. Look out for the old brick platform on your right before dismounting at the wooden gate that marks the end of the cycle track.
4. Across the road beyond the gate, The Old Station tea rooms are a perfect pitstop for a morning coffee, home-cooked lunch or a cream tea. There’s also a garden where you can sit outside on a sunny day and a gift shop. (Distance to tea rooms approx. 3 miles)
Old Station Tea Rooms, Holmsley
5. From the tea rooms turn right down Station Road (signed Burley and Sway) passing under the old railway bridge. Continue along this road for approximately two miles. Just after a cattle grid you will reach a 3-way junction. Turn right here signposted Bashley and Wootton, then after a short distance, turn left off the road onto the waymarked cycle track which rejoins the old railway line.
6. Proceed along the track for approximately two miles until it emerges at a track opposite Cater’s Cottage. From here you can either choose to retrace the route back to Burley or continue to Brockenhurst. (Distance to Cater’s Cottage approx. 7 miles)
7. To continue to Brockenhurst turn right along the track and follow round a left hand bend and under a railway bridge to emerge on the B3055. Turn left onto the B3055 and continue under another railway bridge. Ignore the left hand turn to Brockenhurst and go straight on along the road which then narrows.
8. Take the left hand turn up Tile Barn Lane (single track road) until it emerges at the main A337 road. Cross over the A337 with care and continue up Church Lane opposite, passing the site of the oldest church in the New Forest. At the top, Church Lane emerges back on the A337 almost opposite Brockenhurst Station (just up to the right) which is also the location for Cyclexperience cycle hire (distance to Cyclexperience approx. 8.5 miles).
For History Buffs
The disused railway line featured in this route was originally planned as the main line to Dorchester by Charles Castleman, a Wimborne solicitor, who devised the route of the line to also include his home town. However, not being exactly the most direct of routes, critics quickly dubbed it ‘Castleman’s Corkscrew’.
The railway opened in 1847, but was swallowed up by the larger and more powerful London & South Western Railway in the following year. It remained a minor line until finally being axed by Dr Beeching in 1964.
Need a place to stay?
The White Buck, Burley
For the opportunity to enjoy this and other cycle rides and lovely walks in the area, why not book a break. The White Buck is a restored country house with sixteen stylish boutique bedrooms and fabulous local food, located just a short walk from Burley. Alternatively, cosy Bridge House B&B and the stylish Cottage Lodge Hotel offer a comfortable, welcoming home from home, just a short stroll from Brockenhurst village. Or, for a self-catering break, book a stay at one of Staycation's fabulous cottages like Longhouse Cottage, 12 miles from Burley - a super rural base from which to explore this fascinating area, with additional walks and cycle rides across Holt Heath Nature Reserve and the Moors Valley Country Park to boot!