A fabulous walk for children of all ages, this short route is packed full of interest. It leads you through pine-scented woodlands, past sensory sculptures and tree dens, to the New Forest Reptile Centre where you can see some of the forest’s rare species of snakes and lizards up close.
From the Millyford Bridge Car Park, turn right onto the Emery Down – Bolderwood Road. Take care as you walk along the roadside for 250m towards the unusual sight of a stone fireplace.
Known as the Portuguese Fireplace, it is all that is left of a cookhouse used by Portuguese soldiers stationed to work as lumberjacks in the New Forest during World War I. During the war, the New Forest was a source of wood for props in the trenches and many ponies were also rounded up and taken to France as working animals. And sphagnum moss was collected from the forest’s bogs and mires as its antibacterial qualities were used to help treat injuries.
Continue on the short path alongside the road until you come to the entrance gate to Holidays Hill Inclosure.
Walk 150m down the hill until the path splits at a small pond. Look out for the giant wooden frog sculpture beside the pond.
Take the path on the left and continue for 800m through the pine woods towards the New Forest Reptile Centre.
On the right of the path, pause at the wooden ‘bed’ marked ‘look up’ giving you a restful view of the treetops. Shortly before you come to the centre you’ll see another sculpture – have a look through the wooden telescope to spot a deer in the woods.
At the New Forest Reptile Centre you can have a peer into the enclosures which provide habitats for native lizards, snakes, frogs and toads, including the adder, the only venomous species of snake living in Britain.
There is a picnic site and toilet facilities at the site. Head back along the path and when you reach the telescope, take the path opposite. The soft woodland path winds through a tunnel of pine trees towards a footbridge and then heads uphill to join with the main gravel cycle route.
At regular intervals along the 500m path you’ll see posts with panels featuring birds, animal and insects – great for teaching little ones about forest wildlife. Take crayons and paper and you can have a great kids activity of taking rubbings of the forest creatures.
To extend the walk, turn left onto the main cycle path for a circular route through Woosons’s Hill and Holidays Hill Inclosure in our Millyford Bridge walk.
Turn right onto the cycle path.
At the bottom of the hill you’ll see another sensory ‘bed’ feature on the left where you can lie back on for a wonderfully relaxing all-round view of the tree tops.
A short distance on, have a break at a group of polished tree stumps arranged alongside a path off the main track.
Continue along the main cycle path back to the pond with the frog sculpture. Take the path on the left up the hill back towards the inclosure gate. Turn right at the gate and return to the Millyford Bridge car park via the Portuguese Fireplace.Download GPX
- Millyford Bridge car park
- New Forest Reptile Centre (open seasonally)
Food and Drink
- The New Forest Inn at Emery Down
Mainly gravel path with one section of forest track which can be muddy after wet weather. A short stretch to and from the car park is along the roadside.