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Review: New Forest


New Forest, United Kingdom

Creatures of the New Forest

  • By SilverTraveller Linda-J

    2 reviews

  • Sep 2013
  • Friend(s)

55 people found this review helpful

Our walking group has recently celebrated its 21st birthday and with an age range of 50-something to 90-plus, naturally enough some of us are a bit reluctant to challenge Snowdon, the Glyders, the Peaks or the Howgills as we did in far off days. But this year’s autumnal meeting point proved to be just as enjoyable, with its own natural beauty – the New Forest. New Forest ponies are absolutely delightful – they are forever munching contentedly at the side of the road, in forest glades, on village greens and not infrequently in hotel car parks! They epitomise one of the oldest and most beautiful parkland areas of Britain: the forest as a royal hunting ground dates back to William the Conqueror and it was designated as the 12th of our 13 National Parks in 2005. There are around 3000 ponies in the New Forest, owned by the Forest Commoners – holders of common land. It should be remembered that ponies are wild: they can kick and bite, particularly at mating time and when they’re with their offspring. And if you’re caught feeding them you are liable for a £200 fine – however sweet they look! And even though they present a wonderful photo opportunity along the forest roads, sadly some 80-90 ponies are killed or maimed every year by cars, despite the forest’s 40mph speed limit. Ponies are not the only animals that roam the New Forest. You are just as likely to come face to face with cattle, donkeys, sheep and pigs and waiting a few minutes to let them wander to safety isn’t such a bad thing, giving us a glimpse of what life was like here many hundreds of years ago. But venture right down to the south of the New Forest and you can catch sight of even more strange creatures – giant spiders, centipedes and dragonflies, alligators and even the New Forest’s very own lake monster! But there’s nothing to be scared of, for these are all sculptures in one of the gems of the New Forest – Exbury Gardens. The gardens’ two hundred acres are famous for their Rothschild collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. The best time to see these – more than 10,000 specimens – is in May but we were just as delighted with the autumnal displays, in particular the many varieties of Japanese acers and the brilliant colours of the dahlias in the sundial garden. The sculptures are perhaps best seen whilst enjoying a 20-minute ride on Exbury’s own steam engine that winds back and forth amongst rockeries, dales, valleys and glades. For those who enjoy the sitting experience, there is also a chauffeur-driven buggy that will pick you up and set down you down all around the gardens. But a gentle stroll down to Beaulieu river is well worth the effort, to mingle with trees, plants and shrubs brought back from all corners of the globe and, of course, to catch the occasional sight of a giant centipede!

Visit websites for more information:
The New Forest
Exbury Gardens
We stayed at the excellent Bell Inn at Brook

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • Vicky11
    over 6 years ago
    Lovely garden. Enjoy reading your review.
  • DRSask
    about 7 years ago
    Lovely pictures of the gardens and wildlife. Glad to read that the giant centipede is a sculpture!