Fritham is a brilliant spot to set off on one of the many walks around the New Forest; whether you are after a challenging longer day walk or just a brief encounter; it’s a perfect way to get some fresh air and explore some of the New Forest ancient woods.

Parking up at a free car park just past the Royal Oak pub, it’s a ten-minute stroll down to Eyeworth Pond. Offering stunning views over the ponds, this area is wonderful for walking, cycling, dog walking, bird watching, and much more.

Keep the wildlife safe and drive slowly

A wonderful characteristic of the New Forest is the immediacy with which you can leave the motorway buzz behind and find yourself driving through changing and seemingly remote countryside locations. Leaving the A31 takes you on a long straight section of road before reaching the small, winding lanes to Fritham. Locals know the imperative of staying within the speed limit as you go, preferably well below it. You just never know when one of the Forest’s resident ponies, cows or donkeys may decide to head for a seemingly tastier bit of grass or shrub on the opposite side of the road.

They may opt for hanging around in the middle or the road for a while and salt licks in the winter from gritter residues are a tempting treat that puts them in further peril. But what a lovely sight they are at a safe distance, with their extra thick coats and so many different characters, colours and sizes.

From the moment you step out of your car at the Fritham car park, you’re on a trail of discovery. It’s not an easy place to start from by public transport, unfortunately. Our first stop was Eyeworth Pond, about a 15-minutes’ walk along a track (there is also parking by the pond), downhill.

Eyeworth Pond

The pond is wrapped by woodland and ducks enjoy its living waters. Interestingly the pond was created to supply water to a nearby gunpowder factory in the 1800s, long since gone of course! There is also a Victorian black post box. So, nature and history combined.

Visiting Fritham and Eyeworth Pond is taking a break from modern life to wander through nature and history. Whether you cycle around the man-made gunpowder mill pond or take a walk through the woodland, there is a lot to uncover the Roman remains in the woodlands and guess what once stood there; sit down at a historical pub, and most of all…Enjoy your Fritham adventure!

The sense of history continues with archaeological sites in the remoter parts of the woodlands around Fritham from the Iron Age and Roman periods. A delightful aspect of the New Forest is that whatever season you visit you will have a new experience with how the landscapes, look, smell and feel. If you just want fresh air, the possibilities of seeing and hearing many birds it’s a great place to visit.

There are circular walks suitable for different fitness levels around Fritham. The height changes are moderate, and many paths and tracks are well marked, though the Forest is deceptive if you go off-road in terms of orientation yourself. You will encounter open terrain as well as woodlands and water..

Lunch stop at Royal Oak, Fritham

When your walk or bike ride has ended the next best thing about Fritham is the the Royal Oak, named after the ancient oak opposite. It’s a traditional country pub with cosy ambience, simple yet delicious food and local beer.

After watching an episode of the BBC’s Remarkable Places to Eat with Fred Sirieix and Chris Baven’s visit to the pub, we knew we had to check it out. For the coveted fireside table spot as seen on the tv show, its first come, first served!

The menu classic is the ploughman’s. We went for the customised cheese ploughman’s, with a Lyburn, Winchester-style cheese option, and also a ploughman’s with pork pie with a gammon option. Delicious! To accompany the lunch what better than a Royal Oak Bitter by Bowman Ales, brewed in Droxford, Southampton, a nice and local choice.

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