To the North! - Of the New Forest
May 31. 2020
Having stayed within our local area and not having travelled very many miles since lockdown, on Friday we decided to head out of New Milton to the north of the forest, away from the busy tourist spots near the coast and to lesser known hidden away villages and hamlets. Our route in the car took us through the village of Burley (known for it's witches) and then east out on the A31 for a few miles. We came off at the Fritham junction, passing ponies and donkeys, on our way to park up at Hale Purlieu National Trust car park (after the sat nav tried to take us down a Byway!)
Leaving the car park, we headed up the lane and then through a gate. A hidden pathway took us down a narrow track with the rhododendrum heads bobbing alongside us. Even though it's been dry for weeks, some of the path was unexpectedly boggy as a spring must run through it, and a bit of mud dodging took place to keep our shoes clean!
We came out of the trees reaching the first of the villages nestled in this more open area of the forest - Hatchet Green - complete with chocolate box thatched cottages and it's own cricket pitch on the green. The sun was beating down and it looked a wonderful place to live! The photo shows The Old Dame School, now a pair of cottages, built in the early 19th Century is simply stunning.
Continuing out of the village, we were now on the Avon Valley Path. This took us into the grounds of Hale House and Hale Park, (3 on the map) originally built as a manor house circa the 14th Century. The current house dates from the 1600s and has an impressive avenue of lime trees enticing you to walk towards the house. We see several outbuildings including an old-fashioned well as we circle the house and head towards St Mary's Church which stands within it's boundary - a quaint and rather cute church on the side of the hill.
From here, we detour slightly to stand on a footbridge of the River Avon, watching the fast flow and a small schoal of tiny fish trying to make their way against the current. There are a few people on the river path enjoying the sunshine but it's still a very quiet, less trodden part of the river.
Back on the lane, our route then takes us through the village of Woodgreen, again with it's own cricket pitch (the two villages must surely play against each other!) and into the cool shade of the Godshill Enclosure. We were now heading back towards the car park, over 3 stiles with fields of horses basking in the sunshine. By now we were feeling tired but accomplished, having enjoyed a peaceful and rejuvenating wander through parts of the New Forest that we have not ventured before.