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Walker looking out over at Rockford Common, New Forest, Hampshire
Walker at Rockford Common, New Forest | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Walk to the Huff Duff

Descend to a tranquil wooded valley at Dockens Water before crossing the stream to Rockford Common. Wet heath and gleaming bogs reveal carnivorous sundews and mysterious mosses. Take in breathtaking views from Ibsley Common, an area steeped in military history, and visit the Huff Duff (an old directional station) and associated bunker.

Total steps: 9

Total steps: 9

Start point

Rockford Common National Trust Car park, opposite Moyles Court (over the ford), BH24 3NA. Grid ref: SU164082.

Step 1

From the car park, walk back towards the road, under the boughs of ancient English oaks, and cross over the Dockens Water using the footbridge. Continue up the road ahead with Moyles Court School on your left. Before reaching the riding stables, turn right onto the Avon Valley Path (AVP) leading you uphill through horse paddocks towards the tree line of Newlands Plantation.

Step 2

Turn left as you reach the tree line to continue following the AVP, with the tree line on your right. Go through the gate ahead and enter Ibsley Common. Follow the trodden path that skirts along the edge of the common, keeping the fence line on your left. Follow this path for about a third of a mile, cross the ditch via the boardwalk and footbridge, go straight across Mockbeggar Lane and up the other side of the bank, following the AVP.

Step 3

Follow the contour of the land, keeping the houses on your left, and continue straight on as you reach a track ending in a large junction. Turn right through a wooden barrier gate back onto Ibsley Common. Walk onto Summerlug Hill, keeping the banks of the old gravel works on your right.

Step 4

Bear left on a well-trodden grassy path, heading in a north-easterly direction. The path will take you slightly uphill, past a wooden bench and across the tops of two valleys to your left, known as Little Chibden Bottom and Chibden Bottom. (If you find yourself heading towards a clump of pine trees on the horizon, called Whitefield Plantation, you are heading in the wrong direction, you want this on your right.) The path becomes gravelly after a while and passes between birch trees. Continue onwards.

Step 5

After about half a mile, you'll see a cluster of pine trees in the distance to your left, known as Robin Hood’s Clump. Ahead, you'll see an octagonal brick building. This is the Huff Duff, a direction-finding station during World War Two. Head east, to the right of the Huff Duff, towards a scrub-covered mound to find the nearby air raid bunker.

Step 6

Continue on and turn right, heading south on a gravel path, keeping right of the Whitefield Plantation. Passing the plantation, you reach a white-stone trig point. Stop here to take in the view.

Step 7

Continue heading south on the path bearing left, and turn left at the track crossroads, heading east towards a horizon of trees.

Step 8

This track will take you slowly downhill through open heathland. Go straight on at the crossroads, down towards the Dockens Water stream. Pass the National Trust sign on your left and cross over the footbridge (great for Pooh sticks!) into the cover of pine trees, known as Newlands Plantation.

Step 9

Cross the road ahead onto Rockford Common and ascend the gravel path. When the path levels out you'll reach a crossroads: turn right and follow the gravel path south for two-thirds of a mile. Finally, go downhill along the sunken lane , around the barrier, and back into the car park.

End point

Rockford Common National Trust Car park, opposite Moyles Court (over the ford), BH24 3NA. Grid ref: SU164082.

Trail map

The Huff Duff walk map, New Forest Northern Commons
The Huff Duff walk map, New Forest Northern Commons | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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