A walk in the forest

  • Date: October 2020
  • Start and end point: Lyndhurst Long Stay car park.
  • Total distance: 5 miles
  • Time: 3 hours including stops
  • Altitude gain: 211ft

After months of walking closer to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was desperate to bimble further afield however a planned weekend on Dartmoor was postponed due to Storm Alex. As compensation, today brought a break in the weather so I headed down to Lyndhurst in the New Forest.

The New Forest is around 30 minutes drive from home but it is somewhere I have not visited for years. As a refresher, I chose to park my car in Lyndhurst, the self proclaimed capital of the New Forest and wandered out of town.

The New Forest is home to free roaming ponies, cattle and donkeys. In Autumn the Pannage season starts. Pannage is the time of year pigs are turned out into the forest to scavenge for acorns. Whilst a yummy snack for pigs, Acorns are poisonous to the famous New Forest ponies and the cattle that are turned out to graze the heathland that forms much of the National Park. Within a few minutes of arriving in the forest I found a group of around 20-30 pigs in what is very much their natural habitat – an oak wood. This is a much better place for them than your typical pig farm, if only all meat had such a natural habitat.

Given the last few days of weather that had me thinking about large boats and two of every animal, the open wet heathland I walked over was very familiar with boggy ground that would give Dartmoor a good run for its money.

The forest is crossed by many roads. An hour out from Lyndhurst I crossed the Beulieu Road and headed towards a mix of ancient and modern woodland.

Given it was a clear day and I was walking in a clockwise direction around the outskirts of Lyndhurst as you can see from the ViewRanger plot of my walk, it was a proper wander rather than a pre-planned route. My lack of a detailed route brought me to a fast moving stream through woodland. With the sound of the stream and the sight of ponies grazing the other side of the stream I stopped for lunch.

I followed paths the ponies use back into Lyndhurst. I could see their hoof marks as I walked and found myself walking carefully around some gorse thickets before following the road and one of the main paths back towards the town and retraced my route to the car. My timing was perfect.. the rain returned and brought its mates.

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