The New Forest, or the Nova Foresta as it was known in the Domesday Book, is a unique and captivating landscape of open heath and ancient woodland tucked into south-west Hampshire. ‘Created’ by William the Conqueror in 1079 as a royal hunting ground, the New Forest has, for the last 900 years, owed its very existence to the influence of man and his animals.
However, a walk in the depths of the forest takes you into a part of Southern Britain that William the Conqueror would probably still recognise. Couple that with the fleeting glimpses of wildlife – a deer suddenly stops to look before magically disappearing in the blink of an eye, birdsong mingles with the rustle of the wind in the trees, wildflowers add splashes of colour to the beauty of the enchanting woods, the commoners’ stock, including the iconic ponies, graze the land as they have done for centuries – and you have all the ingredients that make walking in the New Forest such a rewarding experience.
From Ashurst the walk heads through Churchplace and Deerleap Inclosures before meandering through Matley Wood with its mix of oak and holly. Then it’s off to meet up with the beautiful Beaulieu River for a while before heading back to Ashurst; published in the February 2016 issue of Hampshire Life.