Market town Ringwood sits on the western edge of the New Forest National Park alongside the River Avon, close to the Dorset border. A historic market town, Ringwood was mentioned in the Domesday Book and was granted a market charter in 1226. Weekly markets still take place every Wednesday, and today the town has a bustling centre with The Furlong Shopping Centre containing a variety of high street stores and designer names, and surrounding streets offering a good choice of independent shops. Ringwood is a great western gateway into the New Forest via the A31. In the opposite direction, the A338 affords easy access to Bournemouth with its award-winning beaches.
A variety of accommodation is available in the Ringwood area including some great family friendly holiday parks with all inclusive leisure facilities and entertainment. Perfect for couples, you'll find luxury lodge complexes here featuring onsite heated pools, hot tub and sauna. Quality B&B accommodation is widely available in and close to the town centre, and around Ringwood many beautiful holiday cottages and modern holiday properties are available. The town is a popular base for outdoor activities including horse riding, and a good choice of accommodation in the area is dog friendly and/ or has onsite facilities for horses.
Ringwood has several historic buildings mostly dating from the 17th to the 19th century around the Market Place and dotted around the town centre. Monmouth House on West Street is where the Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, was held after his rebellion and pleaded for mercy from King James II. Stones from an earlier church were used to build the Church of St Peter & St Paul built in 1853. Popular activities include fishing on the River Avon and horse riding. Ringwood also sits alongside the Avon Valley Path, a 34 mile long-distance walking trail running from Salisbury south to Christchurch Priory on the coast.
Ringwood has its own brewery that has been producing real ales since 1978. It is based on the site of a former brewery which closed in 1821. Over the years it has produced a huge range of real ales to suit all tastes. Recently the brewery has invested in a vineyard and have started producing wines. You can visit the brewery and check out the range of beers and ales in the shop or book onto a Brewery Tour. The Brewery Tour takes you around the whole brewing process.
Over the River Avon to the north west of Ringwood is the huge Ringwood Forest. This is largely a conifer plantation that was planted over native heathland. Glades within the woodland still contain some heathland habitat. Ringwood Forest is popular for walking, cycling and horse riding. You'll find a host of waymarked trails throughout the woodland. For horse riders you'll need to obtain a Forestry Commission Riding Permit. Within Ringwood Forest is Moors Valley Country Park. This is the easiest access point to the forest and it has a large car park just off Horton Road. It makes a good family day out, not only for its range of recreation routes including 20 miles of waymarked walking and cycling routes, but there's also an adventure Play Trail which includes a giant ant's nest and spider's web, a narrow gauge steam railway, a golf course, shop and cafe. There's also a Go Ape tree top ropes course. Bike hire is available onsite at the shop.
Blashford Lakes nature reserve is located just north of Ringwood and is a popular centre with birdwatchers and for water skiing and wakeboarding on Ellingham Lake. In the winter a huge number of wildfowl flock to the site including gadwall, wigeon, pintail, teal, goosander, herons, little egrets, kingfishers and even bittern have been spotted here. In the breeding season redshank, lapwing, oystercather, common terns and little ringed plover can be seen with sand martins using an artificial bank below the goosander hide. There is a mix of grassland and woodland on the site too where a different range of wildlife can be seen including woodpeckers, brambling, redpoll, grass snakes, row and fallow deer and a huge number of damselflies and dragonflies.