Longslade Bottom: New Forest Walk Summary
- Start / Finish: The Longslade Bottom car park is the start.
- Distance: Variable – as long or short as you’d like to make it.
- Parking: The free car park is off the Burley Road, signposted to Longslade Bottom.
- Defining Features: From the top of the rise there are wonderful, sweeping views of the surrounding forest. This is a popular place for pony sightings.
- Pros: Great views and a walk of variable length makes it convenient.
- Cons: Very busy. Popular with dog walkers, so lots of dog poo.
Longslade Bottom (adjacent to Horseshoe Bottom) boasts a wide swathe of well-grazed grass and sweeping views of the surrounding area. Running through the valley is an old raised railway line, running west from Brockenhurst. The rails have long since been removed and this is a walk in itself. However, for the purposes of this excursion we’re keeping to the gentle valley of Longslade and Horseshoe Bottom.
From the car park we usually head off underneath the old railway bridge in a (roughly) westerly direction. The car park sits on the very edge of a large grassy basin, and in the summer (for some reason) instead of heading off into a more secluded area lots of people set up deck chairs and blankets right there. I’ve always found this a little strange since this is the area most fouled by dogs, but to each their own. I prefer to strike out.
No avoiding the hill
Whatever happens, if you want to do a circuit, at some stage you’ll need to go up the hill to the right leading to Hincheslea Wood (unless you just want to go back the way you came). The sooner you head up to the wood, the steeper the climb. However, if you amble further along the walk up the hill becomes less severe. Once up you’ll be presented with impressive views of the surrounding areas.
Once up the hill, head for Hinchelsea Wood, where you can either descend back towards the starting point or head into the trees. Here are plenty of tree climbing opportunities for the adventurous; and there’s one large fallen tree that’s been turned into a playground-cum-hideout by countless creative children with lots and lots of sticks.
If you head into the wood you’ll find a path, almost invisible if covered in leaves, that follows a large loop, curving around to the right alongside a very large private property and leading out into the open heather on the northern side of the old railway line. Keep to the path and you’ll pass through a marshy, picturesque expanse that takes you under the railway embankment (past an unsightly electrical substation) and onto the far end of the vast swathe of grass first sighted from the car park.
The Way Back
Take your time to wander back keeping the old railway line to your right and you’ll eventually rejoin the happy throng by the car park.