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Pony near Hampton Ridge
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New Forest walks a little off the beaten track

Cattle in Janesmoor Pond, near Stoney Cross airfield, taking a well-earned drink on a hot spring day
Cattle in Janesmoor Pond, near Stoney Cross airfield, taking a well-earned drink on a hot spring day

Although these walks are a little off the beaten track, they're certainly not out in the wilds - it's just that they're not very close to any of the larger New Forest villages. And in fact, the routes are just as easy to follow as all the others in the Explorers Guide.

The first walk in this section starts close to Denny Wood campsite and follows a straight-forward circular 8 kilometre (5 mile) route - glorious ancient pasture woodland is passed along the way, and so are more recent, though still centuries-old, woodland inclosures.

Fallow deer and maybe roe deer are likely to be present, whilst woodland birds, such as great and lesser spotted woodpeckers, are well-represented and so are a range of wild flowers and butterflies.

Those with an interest in New Forest history will not be disappointed, either, for the route passes close to the site of a medieval Royal Hunting Lodge, a 17th century Stag Park and Bishop's Dyke, an earthen bank and ditch dating back to the 13th century.

The second walk starts on Castle Hill, near Godshill, at a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Breamore and the Avon valley. It is a fairly short, 2¾ mile (4.5 kilometres), circular walk that initially follows the route of the Avon Valley Path; passes beside a Norman, Ringwork and Bailey Castle; goes on to the Frankenbury Iron Age hillfort; goes by the Sandy Balls Holiday Village; and returns through attractive woodland, across farmland and eventually through Godshill Wood, which is part of the much larger Godshill Inclosure.

The woodlands are home to a wide range of birds, whilst well-grown hedgerows in spring and summer are brightened by wildflowers that in turn attract a wealth of insects, including a nice variety of butterflies. Fallow deer and roe deer might be encountered anywhere along the route, and dragonflies and damselflies are a late-spring, summer and early autumn feature of a narrow stream that runs along the valley bottom near Folds Farm.

And the third walk is based on the site of the old Second World War airfield near Stoney Cross and Fritham. But as nature has now reclaimed much of the airfield site, the walk is essentially a stroll across wildlife-rich heathland and through varied woodlands, taking in Janesmoor Pond, Cadman's Pool and Ocknell Pond.

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** New Forest ponies and other animals**
The New Forest
Commoners' ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during 2019 agisters attended 159 road traffic accidents involving these animals, a small but disappointing increase on the 154 accidents attended in 2018.

Sadly, 58 animals were killed - 35 ponies, 13 cows, 8 donkeys and 2 sheep, whilst a further 32 were injured - 3 pigs, 9 donkeys, 11 cows and 9 ponies.

(Forty-three accidents occurred in daylight, 15 at twilight and 101 in the dark. Twenty-seven accidents were not reported by the driver involved).

Here's just one horrific example - Three donkeys killed in collision with van at notorious New Forest blackspot (Advertiser and Times)
** Always take care when driving **
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley