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New Forest Short Walks - Walks from Lyndhurst

Walk 3
Lyndhurst’s old Race Ground and the golf course

Start: Lyndhurst village centre, or the roadside lay-by opposite the Police Station.
Terrain: Level ground and mostly firm, but as sections can at times be wet and muddy, strong boots are recommended.
Distance: 4 kilometres (2½ miles).

Walk route and map
Overview
After leaving the village centre, this walk crosses an extensive area of grassland that is a magnet for commoners’ ponies and cattle. Until around 1880 it was the site of Lyndhurst’s race ground. Indeed, the adjacent road is still called Racecourse View. And from 1922 until after the Second World War, the New Forest pony sales and accompanying fair were held here.

Beyond the race ground, the route skirts Lyndhurst’s golf course, which was opened in 1890 on part of the race ground, and then passes alongside a narrow band of alder carr.

Part of the site of the old Race Ground
Part of the site of the old Race Ground

Woodland birds can be relied upon to brighten the walk. Listen for the year-round ringing calls of nuthatches as these dapper creatures clamber up trunks and boughs. Great spotted and green woodpeckers are also prominently present, whilst tiny, lesser spotted woodpeckers tend to be far less conspicuous.

Siskins and redpolls both breed locally, but are more often seen and heard feeding amongst the river-side alders; whilst buzzards increasingly soar high above the grasslands, or find vantage points on which to perch.

Fallow deer and roe deer emerge at dusk to feed on the edge of the golf course, and foxes can sometimes be seen, too, particularly in spring when hungry cubs encourage parents to hunt through much of the day.

Passed along the way:
Alder woodland
Ancient, unenclosed woodlands

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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