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Call for colourful tales of the Forest

Call for colourful tales of the Forest


Are you full of fascinating facts about the New Forest? Do you have family or friends who know everything there is to know about its history?

The New Forest National Park Authority is on the hunt for memories and stories surrounding five new historic trails.

The five trails have been selected from the Forest’s established rights of way for their abundance of historic features and connection to residential areas.

With the help of volunteers, the NPA analysed historic maps dating back to 1759 to research around 700 current rights of way, in 37 parishes. Some 260 walking surveys were conducted to whittle the contenders down.

Now the routes have been selected, the search is on for more facts, figures and colourful tales relating to their history.

Gareth Owen, NPA archaeologist, said: ‘I hope the five selected areas will have something for everyone, giving walkers a real insight into the mix of history we have here in the New Forest, as well as the opportunity to visit some lovely, hidden away, locations.

‘The volunteer researchers have, so far, only scratched the surface of what history dwells in these locations.’

The five trails are:

  1. Stuckton Iron Works Trail

This trail starts at Fordingbridge cemetery and passes the site of a Bronze Age cemetery before continuing to Stuckton. Stuckton was a hub for smugglers in the late 18th Century and part of this trail is likely to have been used to smuggle contraband from Christchurch Bay to Fordingbridge. On this trail is Stuckton Iron Works, which was built in 1790 and was operational until the foundry closed in 1908.

  1. Rockford Common Trail

A contender for the oldest tree in the New Forest, the Moyles Court Oak can be seen on this trail, which goes around Rockford Common. The route is steeped in history with evidence of over 4,000 years of land use and farming. A big impact on this area was made by the construction of RAF Ibsley during WW2. The common was used for military manoeuvres with slit trenches and gun emplacements.

  1. Tatchbury Mount Trail

This trail starts on one of our oldest routes – traced back to 1759 but probably much older – with several landmarks along the way. Hanger Farm, now an arts centre, was a working farm and settlement in Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday book. The route continues along the old road to Hazel Farm and on to Netley Marsh parish, said to be the location of a battle that took place when Saxons invaded via Southampton waters. Today, the remains of an Iron Age hillfort survive as a series of earthworks on a prominent clay hill.

  1. Carters Lane Trail

This route takes in St John The Apostle Church, the distinctive Marchwood CE Infant School and the site of the parsonage built for the first vicar of Marchwood, Thomas Martelli. All three projects were funded by Horatio Francis Kingsford Holloway, who bought the 500-acre Marchwood Lodge estate in 1834. The estate’s history includes use as a factory in WW2, a preparatory school and a pony trekking centre, until it was purchased by the Priory Hospital Group in 1987. Another point of interest is Birchlands Farm, which was owned by the Bishops of Winchester until at least the early 1900s and is still a working farm.

  1. Lepe to Fawley Trail

This trail passes Exbury, The Cadland Estate and on to Fawley. It covers areas used extensively during WW2 and for D-Day preparations. There are several remains of WW2 military installations throughout. There are also sites of old farmsteads, a Roman road, brickworks, mills and gravel pits, as well as ancient woodlands and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The paths are thought to have been used for a variety of activities, including smuggling.

The rich and varied history of these routes can be found online at the New Forest National Park website:

The routes are previews of five new self-guided walks we are developing along existing rights of way in and around the New Forest National Park. All landowners have and are being contacted. However, if you’re a landowner of one or more of these rights of way but have not heard from us yet, please get in touch.

If you’d like to contribute your memories or stories, or help to promote and preserve the trails in the future, get in touch with Gareth Owen on 01590 646652 or

The trails have been identified by the Historic Routes and Past Pathways project, which is part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded Our Past, Our Future scheme

Notes to editor

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is undertaking a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The five-year scheme includes 21 projects and is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working with several delivery and funding partners.

For more information about the Our Past, Our Future scheme, visit

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect – Enjoy – Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
-Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect.
-Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:
Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more.

Link to Photos

Media contact:
Lisa Reynolds
Communications Assistant New Forest National Park Authority
Direct line: 01590 646639

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