By: Blonde Two

This weekend was an expedition free one for the Two Blondes but I didn’t stay at home (I think that is seven weekends in a row now and the house is looking in need of a bit of cleaning).  Mr B2 and I were invited to stay with some friends in a rather different National Park (New Forest) in Hampshire.  There were three things that struck me about the New Forest area;

1. There were lots and lots of lovely trees (some less kind people would point out that I could have worked this out from the name).  These trees were everywhere though and a lot of them were huge and clearly very old.  Even the smallest of houses had a largish tree in the front garden – I think it may have been some kind of by-law.  It made me wonder what Dartmoor would have looked like by now if the forest hadn’t been cleared.  The OS map still calls it “Dartmoor Forest” but the few trees (with the exception of the conifer forests) that are there are wizened old men compared to the giants of the New Forest.

2.  It was all a bit flat.  I don’t mean the weekend, that was fabulous and we had a grand time but there seemed to be a distinct lack of hills.  I didn’t go on any long walks but there seemed to be lots of footpaths through the fields as well as the more  structured woodland walks.  I imagine that it would be a treat to do a day’s walk through such lovely countryside – there is loads of wildlife to see including deer in abundance.  It would be nice too, to not be out of breath all of the time from long slogs uphill.  Despite this, the lack of hills bothered me – on Dartmoor, you can usually see where you are heading for (unless the mist comes down).  My navigation is nowhere near as good through forest so maybe it was that.

3.  The cliffs were crumbling away into the sea.  I know that Dartmoor has bogs that are just waiting for unsuspecting walkers to step into but underneath those bogs is a really solid layer of granite which, as far as I know, is unlikely to shift as you step on it.  If you visit a Dartmoor tor one year, it will definitely still be there the next.  We had a lovely stroll along the cliffs at Highcliffe and as far as I could see, someone had made an error in their design and decided to build them out of giant sandcastles.  Knowing my fear of heights, you can imagine my face when Mr B2 and our friends decided to walk along the edges.

Highcliffe Cliffs

Having said all of that, the New Forest is an area that I would love to explore more.  The birdlife alone is worth visiting and to see so many ancient trees in one place is a real treat.  I think we were there at exactly the right time of year because the variety of greens was astounding – the trees and bushes seemed in a hurry to display all of their finery at once. While we were there, I did a quick bluebell survey and although there were pockets of naughty Spanish ones, there were lots and lots of pretty English ones too.