Forestry Commission logo

Forest Diary

 Forest under canvas

By Zoe Cox, Community Manager at the Forestry Commission

 With the recent dry weather and warm summer evenings, there’s never been a better time to go camping and experience the New Forest under canvas. Waking up to the bray of a donkey, or a pony snuffling around your tent is Campers in Hollands Wood campsite in the New Forestsomething you really can’t rival, and if you’re bringing family and friends from further afield it’ll be an experience they’ve unlikely had before anywhere else!

 Many people visit the New Forest each day, enjoying a stroll through the woodlands or riding across the heathlands, but sleeping overnight amongst it, under the stars you feel really connected with nature.  But a word of caution, it’s illegal to camp on Forestry Commission land - wild camping is prohibited in England, you have to get the landowner's permission before camping.

 You may have heard  the New Forest being referred to as ‘common land’ and you’d be forgiven for assuming this means the public has the right to use it as it chooses, but in fact the main right of public access only really covers ‘quiet recreation on foot.’ It does not mean that people have a right to camp on it, especially as this could conflict with commoners' rights to graze animals here. In fact, the whole area is governed by a complex set of New Forest Acts and Forestry Commission byelaws.

 Also, parking is not permitted in Forestry Commission car parks in the Forest between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

 However, there are many ‘official’ campsites to choose from and numerous private caravan, and camping sites in and around the New Forest to provide for people who come here every year to camp in tents, caravans or motor homes. Camping is only permitted at these official sites you'll know that you are helping to support local communities and protect the forest by staying at an officially designated site.

 There are ten Camping in the Forest campsites to pitch up on and there are plenty of activities for families to enjoy. Campers can get involved with woodland nature activities, take a guided walk and learn more about the New Forest’s surroundings with Forest Rangers, which are funded in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, Camping in the Forest and the Forestry Commission.

 FC Rangers regularly drop in to the campsites to chat to guests and answer their questions about the New Forest. It’s a great opportunity to chat to both first-time and regular visitors, as well as our partners and local businesses.

 If you prefer to enjoy the forest at your own pace, then simply pitching up and taking the time to explore at different times of day can be a refreshing experience. Notice the wildlife that you usually miss – the early dawn chorus, bats flitting between trees at dusk and owls calling loudly from overhead branches.

 Popular campsites can get busy at this time of year, so it’s best to book ahead online with Camping in the Forest or call their booking office on 024 7642 3008.

 I’m now just hoping that this fine weather continues! Enjoy your summer in the New Forest and please leave your pitch just as you found it.

 For more information about the New Forest, visit:








Last updated: 14th July 2018

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.