Wilverley Inclosure: New Forest Walk Summary
- Walk Start / Walk Finish: Wilverley Inclosure Car Park.
- Distance: 2.6 miles.
- Parking: Free Parking at Forestry Commission Car Park either at Wilverley Inclosure or Wilverley Plain.
- Defining Features: A wide gravel path winds its way through both mature and young woodland.
- Pros: An energetic circular route with numerous paths.
- Cons: The scenery doesn’t change much – as you’d expect in a dense wood.
The Wilverley Enclosure circuit is suitable for both cyclists and walkers, and follows a wide gravel track all the way around. There are a couple of steep hills, but the going is mainly flat. To begin the walk, park in the Wilverley Enclosure Forestry Commission car park near a gate marked ‘Scout Camp’.
Starting at the Scout Camp gate sign, the wide gravel track divides within 50 yards or so. We’ll take the left fork which leads downhill with thick woodland rising up on the right and slightly lower on the left. There is the occasional rough footpath disappearing into the woods which can be explored, but for the purposes of this walk, we’ll stick to the gravel track.
The track dives downhill, bending to the right. The trees are tall and dense along here, and I find the occasional wooden benches less inviting when the woods are dense and dark.
Once round the bend the path meanders along and eventually up a gentle rise. After passing a wooden bench the track again dives downhill towards another fork. Our route takes us to the right and gradually bends around to the left. There are the occasional grassy paths and tracks to the left and right, tempting the New Forest Tourist into woods to explore.
As the gravel track continues, on the right the trees become younger, whilst on the left is evidence of forest management with large areas cleared of trees. Piles of logs loom up occasionally complete with warning signs alerting the over-eager as to the dangers of climbing over them. As the track bends to the right the trees are clearly older and larger.
The trend of winding, dipping and rising continues for a while until the walker approaches another fork in the road. This time it’s not immediately obvious which route to take. Turn to the right and you’ll see a cycle path post marked W49 immediately adjacent to a post with yellow and green waypoint markings. Follow this track so that you’re almost doubling back on yourself.
After a fairly short walk we pass a couple of grassy tracks that lead off to the left and right. This brings us to the brow of a hill, and on the left is a wooden bench next to a large log – a popular place for the kids to stop and play before descending one last steep hill, and then walking up an even longer, steeper one on the far side. This last hill is the hardest and the wooden bench at the top is the most welcome one on the walk.
The last stretch of track is flat and leads all the way back to the car park. It’s fairly straight, a few slight bend aside, and the woods on either side become thinner and older the further you go. Eventually a small, metal round-topped green Victorian plaque comes into view on the left that reads:
containing 500 acres
Enclosed A.D. 1775 and 1809
Thrown open A.D. 1846
Re-Enclosed A.D. 1896
E. Stafford Howard Esq
Honble Gerald Lascelles
The ‘Thrown open’ date of 1846 tallies with the following comment by John R Wise, author of an 1862 history of the New Forest. Here he hints that there is not much to see at Wilverley as all the trees are still young:
“Wootton, and Wilverley, and Setthorns, and Holmsley, are all young plantations, whilst at Wootton the Forest now entirely ceases, though once stretching five miles farther, as far as the sea.”
Shortly afterwards you’ll see the first fork where the walk began, and then the car park. There is another entrance to this car park via the ‘Wilverley Plain’ entrance. This area (as the title suggests) is lined by a large grassy plain, and the car park here divides it from the woodland. At this entrance can be found a dog ‘Activity Trail’ (obstacle course) and a barbeque area.