The small village of Burley is a major attraction for visitors to the New Forest, despite its small size, and the perfect getaway for exploring the south-western area of the Forest.
It’s a village that boasts a colourful history and is probably the best known village of the New Forest for ancient folklore.
Smuggling was big business across areas of the New Forest in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Burley was a major port for smugglers making their way across the network of Forest tracks.
The 17th century Queen’s Head pub in the village centre was a favourite stop, in fact a secret cellar was discovered during renovation work – the cellar was home to a stash of pistols, coins and alcohol thought to be left there by local smugglers.
And witchcraft has also played a major role in Burley’s past, even in relatively modern times. The village’s most infamous inhabitant lived here during the 1950s – a white witch named Sybil Leek. She wandered through the village with her pet jackdaw and was an authority on New Forest life, having spent much of her time living with Forest gypsies.
Sybil moved to America after becoming somewhat of a village joke, and wrote many books on the subject of witchcraft and astrology – books which are still highly respected and studied today by followers and enthusiasts of the practice.
The witchcraft connection has not been forgotten by Burley – there are several shops in the village centre selling witchcraft and magic related souveniers, books and, of course, spells!
One of the shops was in fact named by Sybil Leek, and a photo of her can be seen inside.
Witchcraft shops aside, there are also a number of quaint tearooms, galleries and brasseries, particularly in The Mall at the south-western end of the main car park. On the northern side of the car park you may be lucky enough to see the herd of red deer grazing in the field in front of Burley Manor Hotel.
Bike hire is available from Burley, while Burley Wagon Rides allow you to experience the pretty village lanes and Forest tracks by horse-drawn wagonette.
Away from Burley village, you can experience the open heathlands of the New Forest at their best. The village is surrounded by this very important habitat and can be easily reached on foot from the village centre.
There are several ancient architectural mounds to be found on the heath, including Castle Hill, an Iron Age hill fort (or the remains of…) immediately to the northwest of the village, close to Burley Street.
An Open Forest golf course, Burley Golf Club can be found on the eastern edge of the village, with holes that offer some superb panoramic views!
Getting to Burley
The village can be accessed from four different directions. The two most direct roads enter Burley from the north-west; from Picket Post on the A31, about a mile east of Ringwood, and from the A35 to the south-east (Lyndhurst-Christchurch road).
Important update: Regrettably the OS map excerpt previously shown for this walk can no longer be used on this website. The walk is doable without it, by following the directions and photos outlined below, but please take extra care. If you don’t feel confident about trying the walk without the map excerpt, please don’t!
You can buy our offline map by clicking here or the Pocket Guide Image.
I put together a handy downloadable pocket guide ebook containing all of the walks from this website plus many pages of fascinating facts, essential local tips and useful information regarding the New Forest. All of which is available for download in a completely ad free, mobile friendly format. Suitable for use in all smartphones, tablets and kindles etc. Save some ink and the hassle of printing by downloading the New Forest National Park Pocket Guide right here, the only one of it’s kind and found no where else!