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

Walk 5
Pikes Hill, Emery Down and Swan Green

Start: Lyndhurst village centre.
Terrain: Mostly level ground, but with one moderately steep downhill section. The route includes minor roads, a short(ish) stretch of the A35 and a bridleway that after rain can be quite wet and muddy. Strong boots are therefore recommended.
Distance: 3.5 kilometres (2¼ miles).

Walk route and map
Overview
These outlying hamlets of Pikes Hill, Emery Down and Swan Green enjoy a rich and varied history. Richardson, King and Driver on their late-18th century map of the New Forest show Pikes Hill as Pigs Hill, for example, whilst Emery Down is well-known for its pretty church, its alms houses and as the birthplace of New Forest snake-catcher Brusher Mills. Swan Green, meanwhile, has a picturesque cricket pitch and perhaps the most photographed thatched cottages in the whole of England.
Cottages at Emery Down
Cottages at Emery Down

A bridleway takes walkers into Emery Down, but this is not just any old bridleway. It borders the old Manor of Minstead, and retains to this day a 19th century Manor of Minstead boundary stone by the trackside. The Manor dates back to at least the 11th century and it is tempting to suppose that the bridleway is of similar, or earlier, vintage.

Then for those who appreciate refreshment along the way, the walk passes three of the areas most attractive, and historic pubs – the Waterloo Arms at Pikes Hill, the New Forest Inn at Emery Down, and the White Swan at Swan Green.

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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