1. The Trees. The New Forest is home to the highest concentration of ancient trees in Western Europe. They are so old that many were fully grown when the Roundheads and Cavaliers were fighting the English Civil War or even when Elizabeth I defeated the Spanish Armada and the best time of year to see them is definitely now. For spectacular leaf-peeping opportunities try the woodland at Eyeworth, or the Ornamental Drive, with its Giant Redwoods at Rhinefield.
2. The New Forest Food and Drink Festival. A whole week of special lunches, gala dinners, producer talks and foodie events to tempt your taste buds from October 31-November 6, taking place throughout the forest and featuring some of our finest producers. For details on all events click on to thenewforest.co.uk/newforestfoodfest
3. Pannage Pigs. If you go down to the woods – especially ones with plenty of fallen acorns on the forest floor – after 12 September, you’re sure of a pig surprise! Because you may spot some of our unique Pannage porkers snuffling around in the wild. There’s nowhere else in the UK where this happens, so make the most of seeing this ancient practise taking place.
4. The forageable foods. Go hunting for hazelnuts, chestnuts and wild blackberries, or marvel at – but NEVER touch (because some can be poisonous) the amazing array of mushrooms and toadstools that abound at this time of year.
5. Exbury Gardens. It’s world-famous for its spring display of rhododendrons but did you know that Exbury Gardens is also a true spectacle in autumn? It’s secret? Many of its most beautiful trees and shrubs are reflected in its ponds and lakes, doubling the amazing effect.
6. The peace and quiet. Despite its incredible beauty, things are definitely quieter on the New Forest’s roads and tracks during the autumn months. So make the most of getting out on two legs or two wheels – we have more than 140 miles of off-road tracks and low speed-limit roads, where you can enjoy easy cycling and see thousands of free-roaming ponies and cattle. The off-road cycle network is easily accessible by rail or road so you can bring your own bikes or hire them when you arrive – we’re just 89 minutes from London Waterloo.
7. The New Forest Walking Festival. All manner of organised walks taking place throughout the forest from October 15-30. Take your pick from 59 walks, trails and rambles including ‘Smuggling Tales with A Packhorse’, ‘The Real Dad’s Army’ and ‘Birds of the Coast’. More details from newforestnpa.gov.uk/walkingfestival