The Heart of the New Forest

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Lowland and Hill Walks
May 11
2019

30 people attending

0 places left

5 people waitlisted

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£10.00
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19 km / 12 miles; 6-7 hours of walking; no climbs.

You probably know that the New Forest is neither new, nor wholly a forest. Just an hour and a half away from London, this National Park is one of the largest remaining expanses of open pasture land, heathland and woodland in the country, let alone in the densely populated south of England. In fact, whereas other royal and ancient forests such as Arden, Dean, Epping, Sherwood and Windsor are just fragments, the New Forest occupies roughly the same area as it did in the days of its founder, William the Conqueror. It is remarkable that it has remained so, wedged as it is between the conurbations of Bournemouth-Poole and Southampton-Portsmouth.

Part of the character of the forest are centuries-old traditions including the rights of commoners to collect resources and graze their cattle, pigs and ponies. The large areas of lowland habitats, lost elsewhere, which have survived are rich in wildlife: there are specialist heathland birds such as the Dartford warbler, curlew, nightjar, stonechat, redstart and tree pipit, and there are woodland birds such as the wood warbler, hobby and buzzard; of reptiles and amphibians, all three native snakes, sand lizards and the great crested newt; and of wild mammals numerous deer and the European otter find a home in Britain's second-newest National Park.

This walk will explore open heathland and woodland in a large loop between the village of Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst - 'the Capital of the New Forest' - which is still pleasant despite horrendous traffic congestion, with many independent shops, cafes, pubs and a fine gothic-revival church. We will have an hour to explore the town and have lunch. One leg of the route will give us a chance to admire the lofty redwood trees along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, and upon returning to Brockenhurst we could have a drink at a pub there such as the Foresters' Arms, the Rose and Crown or the Snakecatcher. 

Location

50.8167235, -1.5738443