5 MILES (8KM) – Circular
Pub Walks | Kids Walks | Medium | Circular
From the Bolton’s Bench car park, walk up the slope to the famous bench.
The small natural sandy mound with distinctive yew tree at its top is named after the Duke of Bolton who held the office of Master Keeper of Burley Baliwick in the 18th Century.
Keeping the cricket pitch to your right, walk across the grass to the Bolton’s Bench East car park and join the path heading on to the ridgeway. Shortly after the triangulation pillar, take the path to the right, down the hill to meet the Beaulieu Road.
Go past the barrier road and cross the road and head down the short gravel path opposite. At the end of the path is a gate into Pondhead Inclosure.
Continue on the path past some of the hazel coppicing done by the Pondhead Conservation Trust. The inclosure has not been grazed by animals for centuries so has a rich array of flora, birds and butterflies. In spring, this area is a sea of bluebells before the trees are fully in leaf and the sunlight is able to reach the forest floor. Also along the path, look out for Balanos – a dragon carved into a fallen tree trunk.
Follow the path straight through the inclosure until the gate leading on to Beechen Lane. Turn left through the double pedestrian gate and follow the length of the lane through Park Ground Inclosure.
After about 2km you’ll reach the end of Beechen Lane. Turn left and go through the gate. You’ll pass an area of cleared plantation on your left, before entering the beautiful beech and oak woodland of Denny Inclosure. After 1km you’ll gradually head downhill and go through another inclosure gate.
Cross the stream ahead of you via the footbridge. This stream meanders its way across Matley Bog and eventually joins the Beaulieu River. Take the path ahead of you climbing up from Holmhill Passage across another area of cleared plantation woodland. After 300m, when the path meets another coming up the hill, take a right turn, then a quick left turn to join a path past a barrier which leads on to the Beaulieu Road.
Cross the road and join the narrow sandy track across the ridgeway overlooking the moor. Follow the track for 1.6km, parallel to the road, as it takes you back to Bolton’s Bench.
The vast open heathland to your right was used as for military training for soldiers during World War One. Old ordnance is occasionally still found on the heath.
You’ll see as far as Southampton docks and Ashurst to the east. Also on the skyline is the distinctive Georgian mansion, Notherwood House, and the spire of St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church in Lyndhurst as you walk back towards the village.