2016-07-14 Ringwood and The New Forest

Robert borrowed a mountain bike for me (thanks Ken) and we headed off for a few hours cycling through parts of the New Forest, and in the evening took me out for a drive to photograph some of the deciduous forest and imbibe some local ale at the tiny town of Fritham. Fantastic.


View from a high point over the New Forest. Int he distance patches of deciduous woodland are visible to the left, and some pine plantation to the right. The poor chalky soils of the upland parts tends to revert to heath once cleared.

The New Forest area was once a large tract of deciduous woodland. Some areas were cleared for cultivation in the Bronze Age. William the Conqueror claimed the New Forest as a royal hunting ground and the are is recorded as Nova Foresta in the Domesday Book in 1086.

Oak tree in the New Forest

Oak tree in the New Forest

Contrary to its name, little forest remains. Once cleared, the poor soils and grazing mean that heath becomes the dominant vegetation type. The heathland is home to the iconic semi-feral New Forest ponies, a recognised breed with complex ancestry. Archaeological remains show horses were present in the area up to 500,000 years ago.



New Forest ponies around a watering hole in the upland heath.

RIngwood Meeting house

RIngwood Meeting house

Sally very kindly showed me around the town of Ringwood, a historic market town. The town has been there for around a millenium, and is recorded in the Domesday Book. It’s name probably stems from its location at the edge of the New Forest woodlands. Among other fascinating places, we visited the grade II listed 18th century Meeting House. It was built in 1727 by the then strong Presbyterian community, and remains little changed since the 18th century. It is clearly a focus for the local history enthiusiasts. There were very many large ring-binders bulging with collected records and stories from the history of Ringwood, and several people working busily, either reading the records or writing. Among the features, the main floor is partitioned into alcoves which would have been ‘owned’ by a family where they sat for services in their own little section with benches front and back so half the congregation would be sitting with their back to the preacher – listening to the preacher was more important than watching him.

More photos at https://goo.gl/photos/4gMcjuCXuFtbNA7T9.