Fordingbridge and Sandy Balls
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Fordingbridge is a beautiful and historic town, recorded in the Domesday book of 1086.
Set away from the main tourist areas of the New Forest on the banks of the River Avon, between Ringwood and Salisbury. The first Great Bridge, from which the town received its present name, was built in mediaeval times, and is upstream from the ford.
The bridge is a major feature of the town with its seven graceful arches, which can be seen very easily from the town's large riverside park where one can walk along the riverbank draped with willows and waterside plants.
This circular walk will take us from Fordingbridge, along the banks of the River Avon, through meadows, then after crossing the river, we will ascend and walk through a couple of lovely villages, then through Sandy Balls rejoining the river and back into Fordingbridge.
Dogs are welcome to join us on this event but we do ask the following: Please ensure you adhere to the Countryside Code at all times - see Keeping Dogs Under Effective Control. If your dog is uncontrolled and strays in open land frightening other animals or livestock, the leader is supported by the OutdoorLads board of trustees to ask you to leave the event as this is not acceptable behaviour.
(All images are from Geograph and were labelled as 'Free to share and use' under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0 and are: 1 - Bridge over Avon, Fordingbridge by Derek Harper 2 - River Avon by Barry Deakin 3 - Entrance to Sandy Balls Holiday site by John Firth)
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
It's likely to be a tad muddy. Please wear good boots, bring waterproofs and gaiters won't go amiss if you have them.
Food & drink
Please bring your lunch and water.
There are plenty of shops in the town if you wish to purchase food before the walk