Western New Forest Commons

Predominantly open heathland on the western edge of the New Forest, grazed by the livestock belonging to local commoners

Western new forest common

About the site

Western New Forest Commons are four areas of common on the north western fringe of the New Forest National Park.

The area is grazed by commoner’s livestock. Gorse is periodically burnt to encourage new growth which benefits several species of breeding bird. All the sites have open access with a good network of tracks.

Hyde Common

The largest of the four commons, covering  149 acres (61Ha) of open grassland and heathland scrub. One of the highlights of Hyde Common is the view from Abbots Well Car Park. It has been described as one of the finest in the National Park. The view encompasses all the habitats typical of the New Forest. A toposcope in the car park helps you pick out the different features in the landscape.

Just a short walk from the car park is the ‘Abbots Well’, a historical curio. This perpetual spring dates from the Middle Ages and was the main watering hole for travellers on the old road to Southampton.

The landscape here is relatively unchanged. The common doubles as a shared village green between Hyde and Frogham, and the local primary school uses the common as their playing fields.

The site has breeding populations of Dartford warbler, linnet and woodlark. The acid seepage mires around the edge of the common are botanically rich with species such as bog asphodel, pale butterwort and marsh clubmoss. They also support a range of dragonflies and damselflies. Large herds of fallow deer often gather on the common.

Gorley Common

Just half a mile south of Hyde Common is the slightly smaller Gorley Common (100 acres). The majority of the site is a former gravel pit which now supports a mosaic of scrub and seasonally flooded acid grassland.

There are several botanically rich seepage mires around the edge of the common. These are formed where springs emerge from the hillside.

A tree-lined walk along the south western boundary follows remnants of an Iron Age hill fort and offers views into the valley of the River Avon and Cranbourne Chase beyond.

Ibsley Common

This site, covering 43 acres, contains a former gravel pit but also areas of remaining heathland. There is much botanical interest including the parasitic greater broomrape growing at its only Hampshire location.

The hill top location gives fine views of the Avon Valley and offers open access onto a large heathland plateau owned by the National Trust.

Rockford Common

The smallest of Hampshire County Council’s Western New Forest Commons at just 15 acres. This site has a mixture of heathland clearings and birch and oak woodland.

Nightjars breed in the clearings in some years while flocks of siskins and redpolls are common in winter.

Contact us

Central New Forest, The Old Courthouse, Avenue Road, Lymington, Hampshire, SO41 9YB

Phone 01590 674656

Email [email protected]