I travelled down with Sandra on the Friday
Ringwood, though we struggled to find the place after having left the A31
highway down to Bournemouth on the south coast.
is a small village in the New Forest, with a wealth of tea-rooms, gift
shops, art galleries and a Pick Your Own Farm. The New Forest is a
former royal hunting area in the south of England, originally all woodland.
It was created in 1079 by William I (known as William the Conqueror) as a
hunting area, principally of deer. Parts
were cleared for cultivation from the Stone Age and into the Bronze Age.
However, the poor quality of the soil in the new forest meant that
the cleared areas turned into heathland "waste". There are around 250 round
barrows (archaeological burial monuments) within its boundaries, and
scattered boiling mounds (rock fragments are thought to be the remains of
stones heated in fires, which were used to heat water), and it also includes
about 150 scheduled or protected monuments. The contiguous New Forest
habitat covers south west Hampshire and some of south Wiltshire.
It was first recorded as "Nova Foresta" in the Domesday Book in
1086. The inhabitants of thirty-six parishes were evicted. William's
successor, William Rufus was killed in a suspicious accident while hunting
in the New Forest in 1100. The reputed spot of the king's death is marked
with a stone known as the Rufus Stone.
As of 2005, roughly ninety per cent of the New Forest is still
owned by the Crown. The Crown lands have been managed by the Forestry
Commission since 1923. Around half of the Crown lands fall inside the new
The New Forest is indeed a special place
but in all honesty, I think this weekend was a particularly forgettable
experience for a number of reasons. I think the general consensus was that
the walk itself, the details of which escape my memory (at this particular
time somewhat fragile), was nothing spectacular. The terrain is
generally relatively flat. A nice area to cycle, which I did once before
with Kavida, when I first arrived in the UK. The walk took us through
villages in the New Forest, though unfortunately, also near the A31, which
we had to cross on the outgoing and return routes. To use a euphemism to
conceal my true purpose, I popped behind a tree "to see a man about a dog".
Upon rejoining the path, I had lost the group entirely. Nowhere to be found,
they were. Unbeknown to me, they had left the gravel road we were on and
vanished into a woods and out of site. I continued down the road, thus, in
reality, taking a wider berth in the process on the return to the youth
hostel in the late afternoon. It was a weekend when a trio of German girls,
all architects, joined us. Two of them, Daniela and in particular, Nadine,
have been present on subsequent hikes. We ate at a pub in the village
in the evening and returned to the youth hostel, to be entertained, as is
the case on odd occasions, by our singing guitar duo, comprising Dave and
Forest Laws were enacted to
preserve the New Forest as a location for royal deer-hunting, and
interference with the King's deer and its forage was severely punished. Over
time, the local inhabitants or "Commoners" were granted or took on various
"rights of common": to turn ponies, cattle, donkeys and sheep out into the
Forest to graze ("common pasture"), to gather wood, to gather bracken after
29th September as litter for animals, to cut peat for fuel, to dig clay, and
to turn out pigs between September and November to eat fallen acorns and
beechnuts (referred to as "pannage"). Along with grazing, pannage is still
an important part of the forest ecology. Pigs can eat acorns without a
problem, whereas to ponies and cattle large numbers of acorns can be
poisonous. Pannage always lasts 60 days but the start date varies according
to the weather — and when the acorns fall. The Verderers (officials in
Britain who deal with judicial affairs in certain forests which are the
property of the British Royal Family) decide when pannage begins each year.
New Forest Ponies, one of the recognised native pony breeds in the British
Isles, which roam freely in the New Forest, are looked after by their owners
or the assistants of Verderers, known as Agisters. There are references to
these ponies as far back as 1016. Although Thoroughbred and Arab blood
has been bred into them from time to time, they have been purebred for 50
evidence of Saxon occupation as the name Burley is composed of two Saxon
words 'burgh', which means fortified palace ,and 'leah', which means an open
meadow or clearing in a wood. Burley is also mentioned in the Doomsday book.
Burley has a long connection with witches and during the late 1950's, Sybil
Leek, a self-confessed white witch, lived in this village. Many of the gift
shops now sell witch-related gifts and ornaments.