- County: Hampshire
- Nearest Town(s): Ringwood
- National Park: New Forest
- Difficulty: Easy
- Time: 50 minutes
- Height: 76m
- Map: OS Explorer OL22 New Forest, Southampton, Ringwood, Ferndown, Lymington, Christchurch and Bournemouth (OS Explorer Map)*
This trig pillar is a favourite of mine, on a walk I’ve taken many times with my parents and the dogs. So, in need of a quick early morning walk before heading off to the Great Dorset Steam Fair, Nick, my mum and I set off up Ibsley Common so that we could simultaneously bag a pillar.
The area itself is owned by the National Trust and is fully open to the general public all year round. It has a rich history, both for its ancient pastoral traditions and the role it played in World War Two.
In fact, this route takes in both the trig pillar, the military huff duff (more on that later) and a nearby air raid bunker. And if that doesn’t float your boat, perhaps the views across the New Forest will, especially when the heather is in bloom.
Where to Park
There’s a car park just down the road from the start of the trail into Ibsley Common, across the road from the pillow mounds and at the corner of two enclosures. It’s not explicitly marked as a car park on the map, so if you have any trouble or concerns, you are best parking further down the road near Moyles Court School or the sandpits.
The Walk In
Head alongside the road to pick up the path on your left-hand side.
It gets a little muddy around here, especially after rain, and in winter it is seriously icy. Cross the bridge over Dockens Water and walk directly up the steep hill to the top.
Once you reach the top of the hill, pick up the path on the right, heading towards Whitefield plantation. The trig point can be found at the far end of the plantation, and since it’s painted bright white, it’s pretty difficult to miss it.
The View From The Pillar
There’s a nice view from here of the rolling open heathland of the New Forest, but it’s cut off on one side due to the plantation – however there are plenty of views to be had along the length of the walk.
This pillar is painted bright white (even the flush bracket) and there is plaque stating it has been adopted by the local Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society. There’s even a nearby bench should you wish to stop to take in the surrounding and have a drink and a snack.
The Walk Continued
The next part of the walk takes you to the Huff Duff. Now, it’s worth noting that it’s not specifically marked on an OS map, showing up only as a tumulus.
From the trig pillar, head north-east and keep an eye out for the octagonal brick building, which should be off the path to your left. The air remnants of the air raid shelter are close nearby as well.
Have a little explore around and read the information board inside the Huff Duff to find out more about the fascinating history of this strange structure.
The Walk Out
Head out back in the direction you came and pick up the path parallel to the approach. This takes you around the enclosure on the opposite side to the trig.
Walk past here and head downhill with the path, picking the path from the start of the walk back up.
There is a small car park accommodating about four cars, just down the road from the path into Ibsley Common. If this is busy, you can park near Moyles Court School or the sandpits and take a different route in.
The Huff Duff, or HF-DF station, is an old directional finding station, primarily used during World War Two. These located aircraft radio transmissions by identifying the direction from which they were strongest and would have once included a 30-foot wooden tower.
Ibsley Common has something to offer year-round. Our favourite times to visit are in late summer, when the heather is in bloom, and winter, when ice and snowfalls turn into a fairy tale landscape.
Yes, you can take your dog to Ibsley Common, but you should keep them on a lead or under close control, due to livestock and nesting birds. Be particularly wary of young animal, and never allow your dog to chase or disturb the livestock.
The National Trust are responsible for Ibsley Common, but you don’t need to be a member to enjoy it. It’s completely open to the public, without entry fees.
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