Limited Speed For Wild Ponies In New Forest National Park

When you reach a town in England where some donkeys block the road, you are most certainly in Beaulieu! And other tales of Grey World Nomads in New Forest National Park.

Wild ponies in all shades from white over grey to brown are grazing just next to the road without a fence separating them from the potentially dangerous traffic.

We drove through the New Forest National Park which boasts of vast spaces of unenclosed heath. Pasture land and forest spread out over 571 km2 despite the fact that it’s lying in the heavily populated south of England.

New Forest National Park

We returned from our visit of Hurst Castle and Lymington – Keyhaven Nature Reserve (previous post Hurst Castle in New Forest National Park, England) heading to Lymington.

At the estuary of the River Lymington lies the equally named quaint town of Lymington. Steep streets lead to the harbor, where the ferry departs for Isle of Wight.

We didn’t have too much time to visit Lymington as we wanted to proceed to a most special place with lots of free roaming donkeys on the streets.

Photo by Elliott Brown (Flickr-cc)

But first we followed the road down to the coast, which is broken only by the Beaulieu River Estuary. The western side of the estuary, part of the Beaulieu River Estate, is a nature reserve. A peaceful riverside footpath leads from Bucklers Hard to Beaulieu.

Photo by Natural England (Flickr-cc)

Bucklers Hard

This village is part of the Beaulieu Estate and is being restored to its 18th-century appearance. Bucklers Hard was originally planned by the 2nd Duke of Montagu as a base – “Montagu Town” – for the import of sugar from the islands of St Vincent and St Lucia in the West Indies.

As the French seized the islands the village became a shipbuilding community. The river is deep and the village is well-sheltered and secure from coastal attacks which made it well suited to that role. Furthermore the Bucklers Hard was encircled with extensive woodlands. A vital resource, since it took 60 acres of timber to build a single man-o-war.

“Enough history now! When do I see the famous donkeys?”, I asked George impatiently.

Photo by Anguskirk (Flickr-cc)


We didn’t even have to drive into the town as we had to stop for a couple of donkeys which blocked the road. They were totally unfazed by the traffic and didn’t feel like moving off the street. “There we go – we are in Beaulieu!”, I exclaimed excitedly.

As the donkeys slowly freed the road, we entered the characterful center of the village with mellow red-brick buildings, small corner shops and cafés lining the main road.

Quaint little shops and cafés at Beaulieu

We parked in the street and walked around town and to the  old mill at the head of the Beaulieu Estate, where small yachts like to land.

George read me from the guide book: “The town was originally named Bellus Locus, ‘beautiful place’. When monks founded an abbey at this place in the 13th – century they changed the Latin name to its Norman French equivalent, ‘Beau Lieu’.

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries the abbey was destroyed unfortunately to use its stones to reinforce the king’s coastal defenses at Cowes, Hurst Castle and Calshot. The remains of Beaulieu Abbey and the Palace House, home of Lord Montagu, are open to public.”

Maybe we actually walked on the ancient stones, I thought.

New Forest National Park
Beaulieu Palace House

We passed some beautiful restored old timers at the National Motor Museum.

New Forest National Park

There would have been so much more to explore: 

But we decided to take a slow drive enjoying the vast landscape with the wild ponies on the way back.

More Places to see in the coastal region of New Forest National Park:

More Information about New Forest National Park and it’s Nature Reserves:


Did you know that you find wild ponies and unenclosed land in the dense populated south of England?!

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Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

26 thoughts on “Limited Speed For Wild Ponies In New Forest National Park”

  1. The New Forest is a fascinating place to visit. It’s a pretty unique habitat that contains many endemic species, as well as those found in only one or two other places in the UK. Also the free roaming ponies are pretty cool! We saw one trying to get into Tesco when we visited…! I like it when they look well cared for, but when I see them with overgrown hooves it makes me a bit sad.

  2. I love the New Forest! I grew up on the edge of the forest, learned to ride in the forest and sail in Lymington harbour. I haven’t been for years though so it’s lovely to read your account. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  3. It feels quite wild and untamed, I’ld never have guessed that this was England. I didn’t know about the French connection either. This is what I love about travel.

  4. The donkeys roaming around the town ignoring traffic – too cool! Kind of like cows in India I guess.
    Lymington looks charming – those quaint charming little towns are one of my favourite things about the UK! Apart from Devon, Cornwall and a day in Brighton / Canterbury a long time, I haven’t really been to the south of England, but it definitely sounds worth a visit! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. That’s a good comparison 😉 We are lucky to be able to travel the UK for an extended period. We wouldn’t be able to visit many of the gorgeous places otherwise. We just came from Newquay – Cornwall – wow!

  5. This is beautiful! I will like to see the ponies and donkeys. A town in Arizona called Oatman, has donkeys roaming the streets. They are used to the cars and people.

    1. I’m sure that towns get more tourist just because of that. It makes a town just more sympathetic as the people must be animal lovers with all these ponies and donkeys strolling down the street.

  6. How many wild donkeys are there I wonder? I didn’t know about them before, but I have seen the wild ponies on Dartmoor in Devon.

  7. I love charming little towns like Lymington. There seems to be a lot to see in this area. Ah, and those cute little donkeys! Adorable! Thank you for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  8. It sounds like you two had a lovely time! Love the pictures of the donkeys! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the details of your trip; New Forest National Park sounds beautiful and relaxing and is something we’ll have to put on our list for when we get to England next.

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