We will continue our walk where we left off at the end of part one of “Walking the New Forest”.
We left the old Oak behind crossed a clearing and followed a pathway through Beech trees as we aimed for an old wooden gate.
The gateway afforded us views of an open area with few trees and most of those were now of Birch, our native Betula pendula.
Ferns within the wooded area tended to be the Hard Fern variety but once out in the more open and much drier heathland the main ferns were our common Bracken. The Bracken was showing signs of changing into its autumn coat but the Hard Fern is an evergreen and keeps its leathery deep green coloured fronds.
We took an indistinct path which led us diagonally towards a little wooden bridge which enabled us to cross a ditch. As we crossed wet muddy patches we found signs of life, bicycle tracks left by previous human visitors and prints of deer
Crossing the footbridge we aimed for a distant stand of brightly coloured Silver Birches.
Leaving the heathland behind we crossed over a gravel track that led to a forestry worker’s house and entered a new inclosure of forest. The trees here started off as a selection of mixed deciduous native trees, but before too long conifers crept in. Slowly these dark pines took over completely and we found ourselves walking in dark woodland. Little grew beneath these trees as they blocked out the sunlight. The fresh smell of our native broadleaves was replaced by a resinous aroma reminiscent of pine household cleaners. Less inviting a smell than the warming and welcome scents of our native broadleaves.
The path we were following suddenly met a crossroads where a clearing allowed more light through to reach us and the forest floor. Foxgloves appeared both as first year rosettes of leaves preparing to flower next year and as seed heads, the remains of this years flowers and the promise of more Foxgloves to come.
We looked up from the bench where we sat enjoying our coffee break and noticed the bright leaves of Sweet Chestnuts and beneath them we discovered their nuts, nut cases and fallen leaves. We were entertained by the loud noise of rutting stags roaring through trees and the gentler sounds of the diminutive Goldcrests high in the branches of the conifers.
The final leg of our walk took us along forestry tracks through the conifers and then back into the brighter world of native deciduous trees.
Just before finding the car park we passed alongside a line of huge conifers blown down in strong winds, a line of destruction.
We really enjoyed our first experience of the world of the New Forest. We had plenty more planned for our break.