At Sway Cycles, we are lucky enough to live and work in the beautiful New Forest National Park - so we are biased - but in our view, the New Forest comes pretty close to e-cycling heaven. It’s blessed by plenty of quiet country lanes, a variety of landscapes to enjoy from high open plains to dense, wooded enclosures, pretty villages and ports and over 40 miles of unspoilt coastline.
At just under 220 square miles in size, the Forest provides plenty of opportunities for longer, circular rides taking in many sites of interest. The 40 mile an hour speed limit within the Forest also means cycling here is a very mellow experience. But what makes the forest so appropriate for e-bikes is the vast network of off-road, way marked cycle tracks. The Forest boasts over 100 miles of cycleways in total, usually gravelled or sandy tracks making them less appealing for road cyclists, but perfect for knobbly tyre-ed mountain bikers or e-bikes. Now knobbly or thicker tyres can sometimes split opinion, as their vice like grip off road is countered by the extra effort required to cycle on regular road surfaces. However, with an e-bike that issue need never be considered as the gentle hand of electric assistance (even in eco mode) is more than enough to overcome any drag caused by the additional rubber.
Being able to access the off-road cycle network on e-bikes opens up a completely new Forest experience. Even on the busiest of bank holidays, head up a cycle path into an enclosure and you’ll find all the crowds simply melt away. The sounds of wildlife suddenly come much more into focus and you’ll often catch a glimpse of one of the Forest’s 5 species of deer. With over 5000 New Forest ponies roaming free, along with donkeys, cattle and sheep there are plenty of domestic animals on show too and in Autumn you can even spot small droves of pigs trooping across the forest floor.
Many of the cycle paths pop you up at some of the Forest’s other hidden gems – those slightly-off-the-beaten-track and less frequented hostelries such as The Oak Inn at Bank, The Foresters in Frogham, The Royal Oak in Fritham and The High Corner Inn - in the middle of nowhere! And at the end of the day, with your trusty e-bike by your side, you’ll always have the peace of mind of that extra bit of help on the way home.
See https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/app/uploads/2018/01/New-Forest-Cycle-Routes-Map.pdf for a download of the New Forest cycle paths.