A walk in The New Forest is something that ought to appeal to anyone who loves walking in the English countryside.
The New Forest is one of the local areas where both Debbie and I love to go walking. It’s a lovely area, with a lot of history, and plenty of animals roaming free as well. There is always plenty to see there, and the scenery changes a lot as well depending on the time of year, so you can always re-visit the same area and see something different..
On Monday as the weather looked to be nice, we wandered over to Debbie’s Mum and Dad’s for a brief visit, as I hadn’t seen them since I was last in the UK, and then we took a trip out to our favourite spot in The New Forest to take a walk. Our plan was to re-trace the walk that we did back in April, when we saw several white deer, but to get to that spot involved trecking quite a way off the main paths and heading off into parts of the forest that only rangers usually go into. However, we really enjoyed our walk last time, and wanted to try and find the same places again.
Our walk started from a car park on the Ornamental Drive, which leads up to Rhinefield House, a 5 star hotel that used to be owned by Richard Branson (and maybe still is). The Ornamental Drive is lined with Rhododendron bushes on both sides, and for a short time in the spring it’s lovely, however this is early August and not a flower in sight.
We headed out and had no problem re-tracing our previous journey, except that three months more into the summertime the ferns had fully grown, so it was not always so easy to determine where we went before, however we managed ok.
At one point where we came close to a fence line, we stood deciding which way we needed to go through an area where the grass was longer. Suddenly, out of a grassy mound not 20 feet from where we were standing, a pheasant flew up into the air, giving us both a start. We looked at each other, and started to talk about it, when all of a sudden there was a second, then a third, and a fourth, all not 20 feet from where we were, but we hadn’t seen them at all in the grass as they were so well camouflaged.
From here the grass got a bit longer, and it was hard to always find a way to go where we could avoid it. Since Debbie is mortally afraid of snakes, and the forest is known to have a lot of adders, the most poisonous snake in the UK, she was rather concerned. However we didn’t see a single one, nothing scary, and found our way quite easily up several little used paths, across a fence, over an old wooden bridge, and we came to a clearing where the previous time we had seen several horses and all of our deer.
Approaching the clearing through some trees we saw a few deer, but they saw us first, and headed away before we could take any decent photographs. So we carried on to the clearing, seeing no wildlife, and decided to wander into the woods at the far end of the clearing, where we sat on a fallen tree to wait for some deer to hopefully arrive.
Well, we waited and waited, waited some more, trying not to move too much, trying to keep quiet, and eventually after what mist have been close to 30 minutes, our patience was rewarded by about a dozen deer coming close, led by one of the white deer.
They didn’t come as close as we would have liked, so eventually we made a move and started walking towards them, which caused them to move away, however we did get close enough for me to take some video, while surprisingly because of the amount of zoom that was needed, Debbie also got some nice photographs. We tried to follow the deer for about 1/4 mile, but it was obvious that they wouldn’t be coming closer, so we decided to head on to the next leg of our journey.
We hadn’t gone very far when a family of ponies came along, and as we approached, one of the two foals walked right up to me, within a few feet, before turning around and going back to feeding. The whole experience was so nice, because there were no sounds of other people around, in fact no sounds of human life at all, which was really nice.
The last leg of the journey took us a different way back, I decided that having gone in pretty much three sides of a large rectangle, we ought to be able to find our way back to the car without re-tracing our steps.
We crossed a large expanse of open ground, then came to a stream, which we had to cross using a fallen log, which was a bit tricky. The stream was just a bit too wide to jump over, and landing in the water having failed to jump far enough wasn’t an attractive option.
Then we had to find our way back to the car park, which was about a mile away. This took us through an area of woodland that had huge clumps of ferns, boggy patches, and the only pathways were those that had been made by animals not people.
But we succeeded, and ended up back close to the ornamental drive, the car park and then home. A fun walk, and one that we both would really like to do again.
If you would like to learn more about The New Forest and it’s history, I wrote an article about it, which you can find HERE.