Walking researchers seek New Forest myths and memories

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New Forest Walking Festival
The walks visit Fordingbridge, Rockford, Tatchbury Mount, Marchwood and Fawley

RESEARCHERS are on the hunt for New Forest memories and folklore around five specially chosen walking routes.

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The national park authority is looking for stories and history to give some factual or mythical colour to the new collection of heritage trails through Fordingbridge, Rockford, Tatchbury Mount, Marchwood and Fawley.

The tracks were selected from about 700 rights of way in 37 parishes for their history and local connections after volunteers helped NPA workers analyse historic maps dating back to 1759. Some 260 walking surveys were conducted to whittle down the contenders.

NPA archaeologist Gareth Owen said: “I hope the five selected areas will have something for everyone, giving walkers a real insight into the mix of history we have here in the New Forest, as well as the opportunity to visit some lovely, hidden away locations.

“The volunteer researchers have, so far, only scratched the surface of what history dwells in these locations.”

The trails have been identified by the Historic Routes and Past Pathways project, which is part of the Our Past, Our Future scheme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

To contribute memories or stories, or help to support the trails, contact Gareth on 01590 646652 or gareth.owen@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

Find out more at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/things-to-do/walking/historic-routes.

Walking through history

1. Stuckton Iron Works Trail

New Forest walks
The trail starts at Fordingbridge cemetery and passes the site of a Bronze Age burial ground

This trail starts at Fordingbridge cemetery and passes the site of a Bronze Age cemetery before continuing to Stuckton. Stuckton was a hub for smugglers in the late 18th century and part of this trail is likely to have been used to smuggle contraband from Christchurch Bay to Fordingbridge. On this trail is Stuckton Iron Works, which was built in 1790 and was operational until the foundry closed in 1908.

2. Rockford Common Trail

New Forest walks
Walkers will pass near a contender for the oldest tree in the New Forest, the Moyles Court Oak

A contender for the oldest tree in the New Forest, the Moyles Court Oak can be seen on this trail, which goes around Rockford Common. The route is steeped in history with evidence of over 4,000 years of land use and farming. A big impact on this area was made by the construction of RAF Ibsley during the Second World War. The common was used for military manoeuvres with slit trenches and gun emplacements.

3. Tatchbury Mount Trail

New Forest maps
The trail starts on one of the collection’s oldest routes – traced back to 1759

This trail starts on one of the oldest routes – traced back to 1759 but probably much older. Hanger Farm, now an arts centre, was a working farm and settlement in Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The route continues along the old road to Hazel Farm and on to Netley Marsh, said to be the location of a battle in which Saxons invaded via Southampton Water. Today the remains of an Iron Age hillfort survive as a series of earthworks on a prominent clay hill.

4. Carters Lane Trail

Walkers will pass St John the Apostle Church and Marchwood Infant School

This route takes in St John the Apostle Church, the distinctive Marchwood Infant School and the site of the parsonage built for the first vicar of Marchwood, Thomas Martelli. All three projects were funded by Horatio Francis Kingsford Holloway, who bought the 500-acre Marchwood Lodge estate in 1834. The estate’s history includes use as a factory in the Second World War, a preparatory school and a pony trekking centre, until it was purchased by the Priory Hospital Group in 1987. Another point of interest is Birchlands Farm, which was owned by the Bishops of Winchester until at least the early 1900s and is still a working farm.

5. Lepe to Fawley Trail

The route covers areas used during the Second World War and for D-Day preparations

This trail passes Exbury, the Cadland Estate and on to Fawley. It covers areas used extensively during the Second World War and for D-Day preparations. There are several remains of military installations throughout. There are also sites of old farmsteads, a Roman road, brickworks, mills and gravel pits, as well as ancient woodlands and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The paths are thought to have been used for a variety of activities, including smuggling.

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