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Walkers can step back in time to discover New Forest heritage

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WALKERS can combine exercise with exploration in a series of new routes celebrating the history and folklore of the New Forest.

Using established rights of way and connecting with residential areas to make them easily accessible, the series of five walks have been researched and developed by the national park authority archaeological team.

The first walk from Carters Lane, Marchwood, celebrates the heritage of the area's large estates and wealthy landowners who built schools and churches.

Hangra reconstruction by Alan Duncan
Hangra reconstruction by Alan Duncan

A further Waterside route, between Lepe and Fawley, reveals more about the role the New Forest played in D-Day preparations with views of the remains of Second World War military installations.

Visitors to Rockford Common will be able discover ancient oaks and wonderful wildlife amid open heathland.

Stuckton Iron Works in Fordingbridge is the setting for another route which explores the working landscape and heritage of heavy industry, riots and smuggling.

Swing Riots reconstruction by Jennie Anderson
Swing Riots reconstruction by Jennie Anderson

The final route at Tatchbury Mount focuses on an Iron Age hillfort and incorporates some of New Forest’s oldest pathways.

As part of the research project, NPA staff and volunteers studied historic maps dating back to 1759, along with 700 current rights of way in 37 parishes. Almost 260 walking surveys were conducted to whittle the contenders down.

The historical walks now feature on the NPA’s website, along with old photographs, maps and dramatisations recorded by professional storytellers. Drawings illustrating the major historical events linked to the walks were also commissioned, along with six folks songs produced by Coda Music Trust and researched and performed by Chris Hopgood of the Folk Orc.

Tatchbury Track by Jennie Anderson
Tatchbury Track by Jennie Anderson

NPA archaeologist Gareth Owen said: “Our volunteers have done an amazing job discovering all this history along these old routes that are now rights of way.”

The walks are part of the National Lottery-funded Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/historicroute

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