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Pony near Hampton Ridge
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New Forest Short Walks - Walks from Lyndhurst

Walk 1
Pondhead Inclosure and the heathland ridge close to Bolton's Bench

Start: Lyndhurst village centre.
Terrain: Mainly on level ground, but with a single, gentle gradient; and mostly firm, but after heavy rain, short sections can be quite wet, and strong boots are then recommended.
Distance: 3 kilometres (almost 2 miles).

Walk route and map
Overview
Previously known as Mine House Grounds, Pondhead Inclosure was first planted in 1810, and many of the original trees remain. Notice here the stock-proof and deer-proof fencing that for more than 20 years has helped reduce grazing and browsing pressure, allowing the development of a rich under-storey that includes abundant wild flowers, and in spring and summer, attendant butterflies and other insects. Rotational hazel coppicing is also undertaken here, further encouraging the growth of wild flowers.

Buzzards frequently soar above the trees, mewing loudly, Hawfinches can occasionally be seen, and so too can all three woodpecker species and a wide range of other, more common woodland birds.

Heathland on White Moor
Heathland on White Moor

The Ridge on White Moor provides distant views across rolling New Forest heath and wetlands towards Longwater Lawn. The heathland here is home to a range of birds that in much of Britain are scarce or absent. Look out for Dartford warblers, woodlarks and stonechats, and from May to early August, at dusk, listen for the churring calls of nightjars. Another national rarity, the silver-studded blue butterfly, is also abundant here during July and early August, which is the main flight period.

The narrow neck of the Park Pale can also be seen on The Ridge where it now survives as a somewhat wasted earthen bank and ditch. Dating back to at least the 13th century, the Park Pale once surrounded a medieval deer park known latterly as Lyndhurst Old Park.

Passed along the way:
Broad-leaved inclosures
Heathland

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New Forest seasonal highlights
June
Badgers can now often be watched above ground well before darkness falls.
Deer - fallow, red, roe, sika and muntjac deer are all present - give birth, although the youngsters are unlikely to be noticed until July.
Heath spotted-orchids add delicate pink colour to many of the heaths.
Hobbies, dashing birds of prey, can often be seen aloft, hawking for insects.

July
Silver-washed fritillary butterflies brighten many woodland rides.
Bird song subsides as the annual moult begins, old worn feathers are cast off and new replacements grown.
Wild gladiolus plants bloom. (In the UK, this species is found only in the New Forest).
Dragonflies and Damselflies take to the wing in ever increasing numbers.
** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%. And in the full year, 63 animals were killed on the roads compared to 56 in 2017.
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley