We decided we would take an Autumn break so went down to the New Forest for a short mid-week break. We loaded the car with coats, waterproofs and warm clothes thinking we were planning for whatever the weather had in store for us. We got it totally wrong for as we went further southward the weather improved and we ended up enjoying warm sunny weather. A real treat!
We have driven through or past the New Forest, Britain’s smallest National Park, several times and vowed we would holiday there some day. So as we arrived we had great expectations and we were not to be disappointed.
The New Forest proved to present the unexpected. Traffic jams and delays were not caused by vehicles but by livestock, cattle, pigs, donkeys and of course the famous New Forest Ponies. So here are a few shots of the many critters we encountered as we drove around the forest.
Our first day excursion was to a Forestry Commission area of woods and heathland with way-marked walks winding through it.
We set off firstly in search of the Knightwood Oak the oldest oak in the New Forest which reached maturity during the reign of Henry VIII. We followed the posts marking the way, rather beautiful way markers carved in wood.
Among the hundreds of oak trees here we passed two other significant oaks on the way, celebrating important moments in the forest’s history. Firstly the Queen’s Oak was planted by Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the founding of the forest by William I in 1079. Secondly the Deputy Surveyor’s Oak planted to mark the contribution of a former Deputy Surveyor of the forest, Donn Small. The second oak was planted as a sapling from the Knightwood Oak itself. The ancient oak itself was surrounded by a chestnut paling fence to keep the public away from falling branches and to prevent the public from getting too close to the tree.
Although this was a forest of mature trees there were signs of regeneration throughout, little saplings of all the main species of trees, so its future looks secure.
At the other end of the age scale we were pleased to see that dead and dying trees were being left for the benefit of wildlife, insects, birds and of course the many fungi that live in woodlands breaking down and decomposing dead wood.
In my next post about the New Forest we will continue walking this walk deeper into the woodland and across heathland until we found our way back to the car park.