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Our favourite Christmas routes: part three

Our staff are passionate about the New Forest and their work to protect this special place.

In the third of our series of December blogs, more staff members pick out their favourite New Forest walks and bike rides in the New Forest National Park and share them with you.

Find a little inspiration below and try the routes for yourself over the Christmas period.

Julie Melin-Stubbs
Manages the Wildlife and Conservation Team, including the New Forest Land Advice Service.

Brook to Minstead (click for route)
7.2 mile walk full of history

This walk feels like a journey back through time and, with some great local food and drink along the way, before you know it you could easily have whiled away a whole day enjoying this part of the New Forest.

You will certainly not be short of refreshment; you will find three village pubs, a village shop and two tea rooms to choose from! At Minstead Village Shop, for example, you will find the shelves bursting with local New Forest produce, plus a National Park Information Point with all you need to know about the area.

You will also come across some famous names en route! At the Rufus Stone you will be reminded of the origins of the New Forest; a stone marks the spot where, allegedly, while out hunting in 1100AD, King William II was fatally wounded by an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrell.

Intriguingly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried at All Saints Church; it’s worth spending a few minutes wandering around the churchyard to look for his grave.

Furzey Gardens is worth a visit, it is a charitable trust which won a gold medal at Chelsea in 2012, is open nearly all year round. With the help of around 30 people with learning disabilities and 20 volunteers, the gardeners maintain a haven of peace and tranquillity.

As you walk over the fords, through the woodlands and along the country lanes of quaint, unspoilt Minstead village, no doubt encountering some of the New Forest commoners’ ponies, cattle or pigs along the way, listen out for birdsong; the ancient trees and high hedgerows which characterise the area are home to some wonderful wildlife and are an important part of the patchwork of heathlands, wetlands, grasslands and woodlands which make the New Forest so special.

Craig Daters

Hale and Woodgreen (click for route)
A 5.7 mile walk in the north of the Forest

I love this walk as it has a bit of everything – majestic ancient woodlands, free-roaming livestock, sprawling river meadows, picturesque village greens, historic estates and churches, far reaching views and an award-winning community shop. There is something for everyone and you will be treated with a new view or point of interest at every turn.

This walk is in the far north west of the National Park where Hampshire meets Wiltshire. The famous free-roaming commoners animals are present on parts of this walk, especially at the picturesque location of Hatchet Green which is surrounded by traditional thatch cottages and the village school, but the route also encompasses a wealth of landscape and historical treats, which act as a constant reminder of the cultural importance of this historic and ever changing landscape.

There really is so much to choose from but I particularly like calling in at the 17th century St Mary’s Church on the Avon Valley Footpath with its rich architectural history, before descending the steep path down to the Avon Valley, where I usually stop and rest for a while, taking in the views and keeping an eye out for darting kingfishers and brown trout playing in the current.

I always call in at Woodgreen Community Shop to pick up some locally produced refreshments before slowly ascending the hill to wander through woodland pastures and past some of the most magnificent ancient beech trees in the forest, on the edge of Hale Park. The sheer size and sense of timelessness these trees transmit never fails to stir up images of Williams ancient hunting forest or the scores of Naval Surveyors that would have passed by recording and marking their ancestors as the Kings trees, whilst these tress were in their infancy.

Leaving behind the ancient woodlands, the route skirts round Hale Park before jealously eyeing the cobb cottages surrounding Hatchet Green and enjoying the sound of school children playing, serving as a reminder that this is a living landscape, where past and present combine to provide a rich and dynamic cultural tapestry.

This walk can be enjoyed throughout the year and is the perfect route for those wanting something ‘a bit different’.

This entry was posted by Communications on Friday 16/12/2016


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