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Insider’s Guide to Fordingbridge

Your essential guide to living like-a-local in Fordingbridge...

Located on the banks of the Avon River, Fordingbridge is a really picturesque New Forest town, with a rich history of cloth making and smuggling from days-gone-by. Enter over the beautiful seven-arched medieval bridge to get exploring the mix of old and new, with lots of things to do & see… and plenty of pit stops on the way!

For history buffs, don’t miss the town’s museum– it has a WWII bomb shelter, and you can learn about Augustus John, (one of the area’s most famous artistic residents). John was considered by Virginia Wolfe as the most important of British Artists, and he certainly lived a high society, interesting and somewhat controversial life.

Breamore House and gardens are gorgeous with an olde world feel. From here you can also venture to the nearby Miz Maze, a labyrinth type path carved into the chalk downland. You’ll need your walking shoes for this one, as there is no easy car access, but it’s worth the effort.



Steeped in history, dog-friendly, family-friendly... and all together rather lovely -  Fordingbridge is just fab for a New Forest escape!

Shopping local...

Stable and Wick– A mother and daughter duo who are committed to supporting their village community of Downton, which lies south of the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire.

Fordingbridge Farm Shop– Everything from from a butchers and deli to fresh fruit, vegetables, and baked bread.

Gourmet Grocer– in Fordingbridge is a family run business, offering an array of fresh fruit & vegetables and extensive range of locally sourced produce.

Hockeys Farm Shop and Cafe – In south Gorley – get in before lunch for the sourdough bread. Their sustainable sourcing is very good and the coffee and cake in the cafe are excellent.

New Forest Wines – on Christchurch Road in Ringwood is an independent wine merchant and recommended.

Woodgreen Community shop – Community run village shop for your everyday groceries and so much more!

Sixpenny Brewery – By 2009 Scott decided to move home, family and business to a more rural area and, after much searching, found suitable premises for the brewery in an old dairy building on a farm in Sixpenny Handley, on the beautiful Cranborne Chase. The beer range was expanded, and a small bar soon added to the building, principally for offsales, with the chance to try-before-you-buy.

For the foodies...

The New Forest does pubs to perfection, and you’re sure to be near good grub wherever you are! Around the Fordingbridge area, you have:

The George, Fordingbridge
A lovely old pub, right on the riverside. They have a broad menu which uses some local ingredients & includes a couple of good vegan options. It has the best view and garden terrace in town.

The Royal Oak, Gorley
A well loved, 17th Century Inn. They have a good menu and serve local seasonal produce.

Alice Lisle, Rockford, Ringwood
Alice Lisle is picture-perfect. It’s a stout, thatched, and is decked out with hanging baskets through summer, and wood fires in winter. It’s an idyllic spot for a pint and a meal. The food is good (as local lovers, we are hoping to see more local produce and eco creds added in-time).

The High Corner Inn, Linwood, Ringwood
This spot is a good find. Friendly, informal, and found down a bumpy track surrounded by forest and heathland. You can horse ride here too, and many do. It’s dog-friendly, child-friendly and a top spot for a pub lunch after exploring the National Park walks or bike tracks. The garden is large, with a children’s playground, and inside the pub spreads over several rooms, some with open fireplaces. Good value, bigger portions, you won’t leave hungry. Could be better with sourcing for environmental reasons, but they are trying.

The Royal Oak, Fritham
Whilst not near Fordingbridge, if you’re a walker and want a great day hike, you can get here and back in the day from Gorley area. It’s well worth the trip and you’ll need the pub for lunch. It’s partly-thatched, very popular with walkers and riders, with a choice of real ales, plus log fires and a garden. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Enjoy!

The Horse & Groom, Woodgreen
A charming traditional country pub, situated in the village of Woodgreen, in the New Forest National Park. The pubs location makes it a perfect place to visit before or after a walk in the gorgeous surroundings. Or, you can come and enjoy the views of the beautiful New Forest from one of our many outside tables. You may even have a donkey or pony pop over if you’re sitting out front!

For fresh-air-frolics...


If you’re coming out of the New Forest, you’ll be spoilt for walks anyway, but we recommend The Avon Valley Path with its long-distance walking trail, from Salisbury to Christchurch, which passes through Fordingbridge. There are miles of pretty riverside and rural views to explore, and it’s all well marked.

We love Gorley, the hilltop areas and anything toward Fritham for the best National Park forest walks.


There are great biking trails, both, off and on road, from the town and around the local area. Once you get into the New Forest National Park areas there are more specific off road bike trails that you need to follow – you can visit the National Park biking site here. Check out New Forest Cycling in Burley to hire bikes and go for a ride around Fordingbridge & surrounding areas! (Plus NFE guests get a 10% discount on midweek cycle hire cycle hire).

For seaside strolls...

Hengistbury Head (and Mudeford) – 

Hengistbury Head is a great spot. Park on the ‘mainland’ side of Mudeford and walk the 20-30 mins walk up and over to Mudeford Spit end. You can drop down to the beaches through the foresty sides of the ‘Head’. The views from there are really lovely.

The ‘Head’ itself is a site of significant archeological importance for Iron Age settlements. There have been excavations on the site since the 1800’s and the finds are well documented in the visitors centre. You can read here for more info about the site history.

You have two choices for getting across the Spit to the beach huts and white sandy beaches on the other side. Either the land train, (locally coined the noddy train), which runs for most of the year and is perfect for those who are less mobile. For those with prams, or small children on bikes, take the pushchair friendly track (which runs alongside the train) around the shorter, flatter route. Or, for those who can walk 1/2 mile on the sandy/pebbly beaches, we say head for the end of the spit itself. It’s great for swimming, has beautiful views, peace and quiet, and far less people.

Did we mention that we have a really good guide to Wild Swimming?

Avon Beach – 

Avon beach is a white sandy beach and has lifeguards in summer. There are a couple of shops and dogs are welcome here (check dates and times). It also has a fab’ cafe and further up you’ll find the Noisy Lobster – a well loved and brilliant place to grab a bite, with some reputation. It can get busy in summer, so book ahead. You can also hire beach huts for the day here which is great fun.

For the family...

The Fordingbridge Riverside Park is great for all the family; with a children’s play area, secluded memorial gardens and sports playing field to explore.

We also love the streams to play in, and ample hide and seek opportunities in the bracken and heathy areas…. but, if and when you want more…

Just past Burley, don’t miss Moors Valley Country Park. You only pay for parking and the site is huge! It has two massive play areas – one which is for younger children with a giant sandpit. In the larger forest park area, it has 8 or so well built, wooden play structures- all themed around the local wildlife. It’s a fab day trip destination for families and very well priced.

See the full beach download above, but for small children, we love the ‘splash pad’ at Christchurch Quay- with little paddling pools, fountains, streams and creative water play to enjoy. Open in summer months only, do visit their Facebook page for more info.

For bigger kids, the New Forest Aqua Park is a must. Activities include paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding and waterskiing. Teens will especially love it!

Did you know..?

Here's some great dinner party-worthy facts!

  1. The town was originally named “Forde” and the “bridge” element of the name was not added until the River Avon was spanned at this location circa 1252.

  2. Nearby Fritham is home to the ‘Chalybeate’ or red stream. The natural spring here is so full of iron salts that the water actually runs red. The water was once thought to cure disease… but we don’t recommend sampling it.

  3. Fordingbridge is home to one of the 50 oldest football clubs in England. Fordingbridge Turks FC was established around 1868.

Getting here...

The closest rail station to Fordingbridge is Salisbury (9 miles) which is served by South Western Trains.

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