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A beautiful evening in the New Forest

Posted on 21 April 2015 by

One of the things I love about spring as the days get longer is that I get more opportunities to spend time walking in the evening. Last night I took a trip out to Mogshade in the New Forest, one of my favourite areas despite being so close to the A31. I spent a while walking through the heather as the sun sank slowly behind the hills, painting the clear sky with subtle shades of pink and orange. All over the area the gorse was in full bloom, strong yellow flowers glorying in  the last sunlight of the evening, the fresh smell of spring renewal hanging delicately on the air. There was nobody else around and no sound other than the crisp rustle of my footsteps and the occasional call of the first spring cuckoos.

I’ve always had a fascination with paths, wondering how old they are, who has trodden them before and what their lives were like. Last night I was following a vague track through the heather that was probably made by the New Forest ponies. I love the idea that years of habit mark the landscape in this way. At home, my cats have done a similar thing – two distinct roads through the garden mark their customary paths between home and adventures. Towards the end of my walk yesterday I came close to the A31, one of the two main routes through the New Forest linking Southampton and Bournemouth. What is that road if not a marker of our own habits, a desire line scored into the landscape through decades of use? Details like this remind me how little removed we are from the wildlife around us, no matter how easy it might be to think otherwise.

Spending an evening in the New Forest, it strikes me how lucky I am to live somewhere like this, where not only do I have this beautiful landscape so close to home but also the freedom and time to enjoy it.


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