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New Forest Walks - Walks from Lyndhurst

Walk 6
Beechen Lane, Park Ground Inclosure, Park Hill, and Denny, Little Holmhill and Pondhead Inclosures

Start: Lyndhurst village centre.
Terrain: Mainly on level ground, but with a small number of gentle gradients; and mostly firm, but as sections can at times be wet and muddy, strong boots are recommended.
Distance: 9 kilometres (5½ miles).

Walk route and map
Overview
After leaving Lyndhurst village, the walk route for a short distance follows Beechen Lane, an ancient track-way once used by travellers journeying between Lyndhurst and Denny Lodge. A right turn enters the broad-leaved woodlands of Park Ground Inclosure, first planted in 1810, and eventually continues through a narrow strip of ancient, unenclosed woodland, which is the driftway between Park Ground and Parkhill Inclosures.

Beechen Lane is re-joined, and nearby is more ancient, unenclosed woodland that has in its midst an old, quite extensive area of fairly shallow, man-made pits. Exact age is uncertain, and so is the material extracted. Maybe it was marl, a lime-rich substance used to enrich the land in the days before modern fertilisers were introduced. Or maybe it was clay, a valuable brick-making resource that can be found in a number of places on this side of Lyndhurst. Evidence of surface gravel, however, strongly suggests that this is actually an old gravel pit.

The walk route through Little Holmhill Inclosure
The walk route through Little Holmhill Inclosure

Notice here also, the Park Pale, a prominent earthen bank and ditch that surrounded the medieval deer park known latterly as Lyndhurst Old Park. The bank and ditch date back to at least the 13th century.
 
The route continues through the coniferous woodland of Denny Inclosure and the broadleaves of Little Holmhill - holm in the New Forest means holly. Both these woodlands are relatively young - they were first inclosed in 1829 and 1870, respectively.

The Salt Way is crossed twice, and followed for a short distance. A track once used by men carrying salt inland from the coast, much of the Salt Way has been destroyed by later inclosure planting, but in places continues in use by walkers and others.

Return is over Parkhill Lawn, past Pondhead Farm and on through Pondhead Inclosure. Previously known as Mine House Grounds, Pondhead was first planted in 1810. Many of the original oaks and beeches remain, together with occasional sweet chestnuts and other trees.

Pondhead is unusual amongst New Forest woodlands as, for more than 20 years, stock-proof and deer-proof fencing has helped keep grazing and browsing pressure at bay. As a result, a rich under-storey has developed, wild flowers are abundant and a wide variety of spring and summer butterflies can be seen. In recent years, rotational hazel coppicing has also resumed, which further encourages wildlife interest.

Roe deer and fallow deer are present in good numbers throughout the walk area. Foxes, too, particularly in winter and when with young to feed, hunt in daylight along the woodland rides; whilst buzzards frequently soar above the trees, mewing loudly. Hawfinches can occasionally be seen, and so too can a wide range of other, more common woodland birds.

Passed along the way:
Alder woodland
Ancient, unenclosed woodlands
Broad-leaved inclosures
Coniferous inclosures

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New Forest seasonal highlights
September
Dragonflies and damselflies remain on the wing and so do butterflies, but in ever decreasing numbers.
Hen harriers and other autumn and winter visiting birds begin to arrive in the Forest.
Mysterious New Forest fungi - mushrooms and toadstools increasingly appear in the woods.
Red deer start to noisily rut as stags roar songs of love across favoured heaths.


October
Ancient, unenclosed woodlands and broad-leaved inclosures increasingly take on colourful autumnal hues.
Grey squirrels frantically seek out and store acorns for use during the cold days of winter.
Fallow deer boisterously rut for two or three weeks around the middle of the month before the bucks leave the does and eventually re-form their own male-only 'buck herds'.
New Forest ponies
New Forest ponies in the road
New Forest ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but in 2015, 55 were killed on the roads.
Always take care when driving
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley