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New Forest Short Walks - Walks from Lyndhurst

Walk 2
Bolton's Bench, White Moor, 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.
Distance: 6 kilometres (3¾ miles) from Lyndhurst village centre. 4.5 kilometres (2¾ miles) from the Bolton’s Bench car park.

Walk route and map
Overview
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 along the old Salt Way, a route inland from the nearby coastal salterns. Look out also for the Park Pale, a medieval earthen bank that once surrounded Lyndhurst Old Park, a deer park that dates back to at least the 13th century.

The heathers in bloom on White Moor
The heathers in bloom on White Moor

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

Enjoy the gorse’s yellow flowers that brighten the heaths throughout the year, 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 from May to August, 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, the haunt 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, for here fallow deer are common and widespread, both on the heaths and in the woods.

And walk for a while 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:
Heathland
Ancient unenclosed woodlands
New Forest streams

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New Forest seasonal highlights
March
Lesser celandine blooms illuminate woodlands, and heathland edges.
Fallow deer remain in single sex herds, the bucks at this time always separate from the does.
Curlews return from the coast to breed in and around the New Forest's wetter areas.

Red admiral butterflies are increasingly seen on bright, sunny days.

April
Redstarts are amongst the first returning long-distance migrant birds that arrive in April.
Large red damselflies take to the wing, the first of many such species that will soon be seen in the New Forest.
Bluebells blossom, sometimes in good numbers in ungrazed woodlands.
Badger cubs first appear above ground towards the end of the month.
** 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