Fritham - Sloden Inclosure - Hampton Ridge - Fritham

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The New Forest was created by William the Conqueror in 1079 for deer-hunting. It is an area of woodland, heath and marsh which lies in a broad basin between Southampton and the River Avon. Four hundred years later, the need for shipbuilding timber ended the reign of the deer. The first enclosures to protect young trees from grazing deer were established in 1483. This walk takes in four such enclosures set amongst a series of ridges and valleys in the northern part of the forest. It lies between the highest point in the forest at Piper's Wait, which is near Long Cross to the east and Ashley Walk in the north-west corner of the forest near Deadman Hill, which was once the beat of a forest keeper. Sir Walter Scott has likened these forest uplands to the Scottish moors.

Start at Fritham Forestry Commission Car Park. Look out for the old postbox at the entrance to the car park. This was originally erected to ease the postman's journey to a factory at Eyeworth and dates back to before 1900.

The walk begins gently, following a broad gravel track across Fritham Plain to Sloden Inclosure. Green Pond is nearby on your left and there are views into the distance beyond the woods to your right. Sloden Inclosure now contains a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. The new trees that you pass to your right in Sloden Oak Wood were planted on 22nd February 1992 in memory of Sir Timothy and Lady Eden. There is a good chance of seeing New Forest ponies. You may also see deer on the open heath later in the walk.

The track leads through Sloden Inclosure and crosses a broad fire break to enter Alderhill Inclosure. (It is possible to shorten the route by following a track which links Waymark 7 to Waymark 12, although this cuts out some of the best views). A short walk through Alderhill Inclosure brings you out onto open ground and there are extensive views as you walk along Hampton Ridge, which is also used for cycling and horse-riding, to reach the triangulation pillar. A small sign explains that this trig point is part of the Ordnance Survey National GPS Network.

As you walk back along Hampton Ridge and continue towards Ashley Cross, you will see a small fenced enclosure on your right and tumulus on your left. The enclosure is one of six locations where trials are underway to re-establish gorse bushes on the heathland. Gorse provides winter feed for ponies and is a habitat for lizards and birds such as the Dartford Warbler. The track re-enters woodland at Amberwood Inclosure and crosses into Islands Thorns Inclosure. This is more open woodland and contrasts with the more dense woods that are typical of some other enclosures. The final section of track runs between Eyeworth Lodge and Hiscocks Hill, climbing gently to reach the car park.

England - South England - Hampshire - New Forest


Great Views, Pub, Wildlife
25/04/2011 - Simon Taylor

Lovely walk - get to the car park early as the nearby pub (Royal Oak) gets very busy at weekends and attracts lots of people for lunch. Route easy to follow.

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