New Forest ramble

We came back from New Forest on Tuesday afternoon totally revitalised. Traffic, roadworks and ensuing chaos of daily London life felt weird and alien. So did the crowds later on Tuesday evening in Soho. Over the past couple of years I’ve really come to appreciate the positive effect that a good long walk – or a few days walking, preferably in the middle of nowhere, has on me. We walked just over 40 miles (around 65km) in two whole and two half days. On our last morning, we had a leisurely stroll from Brockenurst towards Lyndhurst and then back, around 6.5 miles. The weather wasn’t really sure what it was doing but it stayed dry so we could pause every now and then and admire the wealth of colour everywhere despite this still being the ‘bleak’ time of the year.

New Forest last day

 

The leisurely pace allowed us to ponder existence of bigger beasts in the forest although we couldn’t decide whether saskwatch or a T-rex could have left these marks

New forest last day pondering on existence of saskwatch

 

And we also got close and personal with yet more moss. Can’t help myself, it is too lovely…

New Forest last day mossy tree stump

 

We got better at finding our way around, recognising paths and wading through the mud. Did not see a soul until right at the end, a man walking a dog in the distance. While it felt great to be the only people about, I couldn’t help feeling a little sad that there weren’t more people about appreciating this. It is a shame that a ‘season’ lasts only for a few weeks in summer. There are people staying at hotels but perhaps they spend more time at the numerous spas rather than being out and about.

At the end of the walk, I took a parting shot from Balmer Lawn

New Forest last day Balmer Lawn

 

And another of Lymington River, which now seemed much reduced after last week’s rain.

New Forest last day lymington river reduced

 

I’d spent the best part of last week checking the BBC weather page and worried that the weather would be too bad to really enjoy our little break. Shouldn’t have worried, we had a great time even on the wettest day when the rain was really bad. Would we go back? Yes, I think probably in late spring or summer. I’d particularly like to go back to Lymington saltmarshes and do that whole walk because the little bit that we did was great fun. And then there are other bits of New Forest that we didn’t do at all. The great thing is that this is only an hour and a half from Waterloo, easily doable in a day.

Now if only spring would arrive properly…

New Forest, Brockenhurst to White Moor

Yesterday’s walk turned out to be nearly 14 miles and that is way past Beloved’s threshold of acceptable walk length. We were walking in a different part of the forest to Sunday, heading towards Limewood in a roundabout sort of way, for late lunch. The weather didn’t look too promising but ended up being fairly dry with just an odd little shower and quite a sunny late afternoon again. The really marvellous thing about yesterday was being able to pause to take photos without the fear of camera getting wet. The beginning of the walk, at Balmerlawn looked pretty good with all sorts of colours and good reflections caused by so much rain.

new forest balmer lawn

 

We weren’t in a rush and once it became evident (or rather hopeful, really) that there weren’t going to be downpours like on Sunday, we’d go off the bridleway and into the woods taking lots of photos of things like moss. I get rather excited by moss, it’s the lovely greens and the sponginess of it.

new forest moss

 

And, later on funny trees and streams. It’s rather lovely when there is no one about and you pretty much have this whole massive forest to yourself. We did see a few people pass by here and there but probably less than 10 in total.

new forest stream

 

We’d walked about five or so miles to this point and as we had plenty of time before lunch, we walked up towards White Moor. I was pretty ignorant of the fact that there is quite a bit of moorland around here, I just expected forest really. So all this moorland has come as a great and pleasant surprise as I love a rugged landscape. We are not here at the best time of the year for heather but its purple tones can be seen just in the background of the photo.

new forest white moor

 

Walking through all this heather was also pretty good for cleaning our muddy boots but in the end that was a bit pointless. At this moment we were really pretty close to Limewood where we were having lunch but of course, I didn’t want to arrive there by road, thought it would have been nicer going through the forest. Only Limewood doesn’t seem to be frequented by people who walk so the only path leading to it (considering that it is situated right in the middle of forest) from the forest goes to the back of kitchens/ spa. We found it after much head scratching. And yes, the food was good but something was lacking from this experience. The porter had no idea about gates and exits from the grounds and one of the waitresses was pretty speechless when we said we’d walk back to Brockenhurst too. That walk back took no time, we marched it as I was afraid that we’d be stuck in the forest in the dark. Also, weirdly, OS map seems to be out of date slightly or maybe it’s just that we’re here out of season and some paths have overgrown but there was much further head scratching by me when we suddenly came out on Standing Hat, by Balmerlawn and I had us way, way back in the forest. Walk back was pretty good, late afternoon sun beautifully colouring the forest, had I known how close we were to Brockenhurst, would have stopped for more photos but never mind. Finishing with a photo of burnt bracken (it is not bracken but not sure what it was) up on the moor. Good contrast to forest which was teeming with life even at such ‘out of season’ time of year.

new forest burnt bits on white moor

New Forest: Brockenhurst to Beaulieu

Yesterday’s New Forest walk – 9 or so miles through the forest from Brockenhurst to Beaulieu. We set off at 10am and it was very wet but the ground was flat and we walked along the bridleway path so we didn’t get too muddy. It was too wet to get the camera out for most of the walk, which was a shame as the scenery was fabulous everywhere you looked.

This photo, which I took with my phone, shows flooding just on the outskirts of the forest. This was by Lymington River, which we walked a few miles downriver on Saturday.

floods on way to beaulieu

 

I used a tiny break in the downpour to take the camera out just for a few minutes. This is one of only few photos of the actual forest I took.

new forest trees

 

We are heading back to the forest after breakfast today so hopefully, I’ll be able to take some more photos.

Once in Beaulieu, we stopped for coffee and cake, my rucksack leaving a nice little pond on the floor. We then went off to have a look at National Motor Museum and ruins of Beaulieu Abbey – not that I care about cars particularly but the museum was actually pretty good, especially the older cars. And our jackets slowly dried off. Once outside it actually stopped raining for the afternoon. There was even some blue sky as we walked around the ruins of the abbey.

beaulieu abbey

 

And, as we headed back to Beaulieu, it was positively sunny!

beaulieu river

 

A bench may just about be visible in the gap between the trees, what a lovely spot. By this point, we’d walked about 10.5 miles so Buckler’s Hard and Nelson’s shipyard was unfortunately a bit too much. Instead, we stopped for a pint prior to dinner. Dinner was a few miles away at The Pig, who kindly booked taxis to pick us up and drop us off. Rather annoyingly, as the cab picked us up and we were driving back towards The Pig and Brockenhurst, the weather looked absolutely glorious. I caught the last rays of sunshine on this big oak tree outside The Pig

tree by the pig

 

 

New Forest, Brockenhurst to Lymington

In New Forest, walking about for a few days. Earlier today on the train, Beloved kept pointing out particularly flooded and boggy paths, I just shrugged. Booked this weekend away ages ago, hoping for some nice weather, forecast says rain today and rain for the rest of the time we are here. Yay. Well, actually, it turned out to be pretty sunny today and mainly dry. We did a fantastically invigorating 9 mile walk from Brockenhurst, where we’re staying to Lymington – the distance between the two is not actually 9 miles but we didn’t do a direct route. And we had all sorts of scenery from a lovely little woodland and old school pubs to flooded riverbeds and salt marshes. First, Roydon Wood and sunny weather, so refreshing and such a marvellous contrast to grey and wet London we left this morning.

Roydon woods

 

A little while later and down some country lanes, we stopped for lunch and a pint at The Red Lion in Boldre which we both rather liked. After that, we were to follow Lymington River down to Lymington. Crossing the bridge at Boldre, you could tell we were going to be in for flooded paths shortly.

Lymington River from Boldre bridge

 

And yes, the path was terrible but also great fun. Sank into the mud a few times, scratched hands and legs on brambles, got mud on trousers despite wearing gaiters and rather enjoyed ourselves. This is what it looked like close up.

Lymington reedbeads bog

 

It got better after a while as we entered Lymington Reedbeads although the weather was getting worse.

Lymington reedbeads proper

 

It started raining pretty soon but we were on a road by that point and it didn’t take long to get into Lymington. We stopped for a coffee and a break before heading out to the Saltmarshes. The rain stopped again and we even got some blue late afternoon sky. Caught two ferries (to Isle of Wight) passing each other.

Lymington saltmarshes ferries crossing

 

And the other side was a nature reserve, a bit flooded but great to look at nevertheless.

Lymington saltmarshes

 

It was very windy around here and while we spotted lots of birds, some had to work hard to stay up in the air. The Saltmarshes continue to Keyhaven but it was already late afternoon so we had to head back. It’s worth coming back here just to do this walk. We saw a couple of dog walkers around here but hardly a soul elsewhere. Guess we are here out of season.

Weather forecast for tomorrow basically says everything from dry to snow and lots of rain. Hoping for dry but we shall see.