Although Burley is a bustling village, it is surrounded by rolling heath land. Heading south, you can enjoy the wide open vistas with views as far as the Isle of Wight and walk where the tracks of the Castleman’s Corkscrew railway line used to carry steam trains through the forest.
This route is particularly stunning in late summer when the purple and pink heather is in full bloom.
From Burley car park, take the more-or-less straight gravel path which heads south across the open heath. You soon begin a gradual descent down Turf Hill.
Look out for Sway Tower in the distance, with the Isle of Wight visible across the Solent behind it. The 218 ft-high tower is visible for miles around and is a familiar landmark. It was built in the 1880s by wealthy local landowner Andrew Thomas Turton Peterson and is thought to be the tallest structure in the world made from non-reinforced concrete.
Continue walking, with Shappen Bottom on your right. After about 2km from the car park there is a steeper descent towards a footbridge which crosses a stream.
Over another 200m the path rises to meet a wide gravel path along the disused ‘Castleman’s Corkscrew’ railway line. The line, opened in the 1840s, linked Brockenhurst and Ringwood and was so-called because of its winding route through the New Forest
At the ruins of the Greenberry Bridge, turn right onto the path and follow its gently curving route for 1.5km.
When the path crosses a second small bridge with metal railings, you can either take the path on the right up the hill, or take a detour on the path on the left and pay a visit to Witten Pond.
Take the path up Burbush Hill, passing a tumulus – a Bronze Age burial mound – on your left after about 330m.
Continue on the path as it bends round to the left after Shappen Hill and meets a tarmac lane. The lane meets Moorhill Road which takes you uphill back to Burley car park.
To visit the village, a path through the trees links the car park to the Coven of Witches gift shop.