I do figure of 8 type runs, so a double loop with say 6 miles for each one.
If the first one goes a lot longer I've got plenty of reserve then, doesn't help as much for loop 2 of course but if there are lots of dodgy turns I'd normally head back and do part of the first loop again perhaps.
Normally stick with out and back though, staying on the main route each time to avoid having to try and remember too many turns.
Generally, what you do is use the map tool at www.sustrans.org.uk for a very clear view of where all the footpaths, bridleways, etc are and then use the mapping tool at www.gpsies.com/createTrack.do to create a Garmin.crs file which you then download onto your Garmin 305. Then you just follow the line. When I first moved to Winchester I did a lot of night running in the local countryside and used this a lot and its foolproof. Now I know most of the many routes so I use it less, but whenever I go away somewhere I always do a route or two in advance so I can get offroad and know how to get back to where I started.
New forest is slightly easier because you don't generally have to worry about sticking to public rights of way like you do when you're running over private land. So you can make it up with a bit more freedom using the gpsies site. Even then if you plan a rough loop it doesn't matter ifyou vary it a bit - as long as you have it stored in 305 you can always find your way back to your planned trajectory eventually.
Good pick by the way - I grew up in the New Forest and it's a runner's paradise.
Ps: just read your post again Faithsdaddy and not surprised you got lost - the New Forest, as you will know now, is chocka with all manner of paths, tracks, trails and the like. A few of these are official footpaths and will be marked accordingly on the OS maps, but most aren't. It can get confusing.
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