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Pony near Hampton Ridge
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For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park

New Forest Walks - Walks from Lyndhurst

Walk 7
White Moor, Matley Heath, Mallard Wood and the Beaulieu River at Longwater Lawn

Start: Lyndhurst village centre, or from the Forestry Commission car park close to Bolton’s Bench.
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. Parts of the route are a little 'off the beaten track', so access to an Ordnance Survey map might be helpful - Explorer OL22.
Distance: 8.5 kilometres (5¼ miles) from Lyndhurst village centre. 7 kilometres (4½ miles) from the Bolton’s Bench car park.

Walk route and map
On this walk, absorb the atmosphere of White Moor, an area with a fascinating military history. Here Victorian rifle range butts - earthen banks in front of which were placed targets - remain concealed amongst the trees, whilst engulfed in heather are the remains of trenches used during military manoeuvres prior to and during the First World War.

Follow in the footsteps of ancient travellers by walking for a while close to the old Salt Way, a route inland from nearby coastal salterns. Look out also for the Park Pale, a medieval earthen bank that once surrounded a deer park dating back to at least the 13th century.

Longwater Lawn shortly after dawn
Longwater Lawn shortly after dawn

Notice too, a Bronze Age barrow visible on the heath, the last resting place of a person, or persons, who inhabited this area 3,500 years, or so, ago.

Enjoy the gorse's yellow flowers; and the cross-leaved heath, bell heather and common heather that blooms from June to September. Watch also for Dartford warblers, woodlarks and linnets, and on warm summer evenings, listen at dusk for the churring calls of nightjars.

In the warmer months, butterflies, too, brighten the landscape. Look out on the heaths for nationally rare silver-studded blues in July and early August, and graylings from mid-July to early September.

Adjacent wetland areas hold breeding season curlews that announce presence with mournful, plaintiff cries and undulating courtship flights, whilst lapwings beat the air in frenzied display, declaring territory and driving off intruders.

Marvel at the fine old oaks and beeches of Mallard Wood and Matley Wood, the haunts of springtime redstarts and wood warblers, and a year-round throng of resident birds.

Look out also amongst the woodland bracken for movements that might betray a deer as it slips quietly away, keen to keep from sight - here fallow deer are common and widespread, both on the heaths and in the woods.

And walk beside the Beaulieu River at Longwater Lawn. In spring and summer, the river is often little more than a narrow ribbon of water, bedecked with water crowfoot, but after rain it is a more substantial water-course. In winter, trout come here to spawn, whilst in their own season, brightly coloured dragonflies and damselflies dart and dance around the water’s edge.

Passed along the way:
Ancient unenclosed woodlands
New Forest streams

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New Forest seasonal highlights
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.

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