Brockenhurst and Burley

“Little Acorns” is set in a wooded valley and there is an interesting variety of wildlife on show. This morningwe saw coal tits and nuthatches on the feeder as well as the more usual tits and greenfinches.

The frost had mostly cleared by the time we set off at around 10 a.m. We turned left up thehill and back towards Hale by what is probably a marginally longer route, but almost certainly involves less climbing. We joined the B road towards Longcross and then headed south past Fritham towards the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive. My arthritis was giving me some trouble so progress was slow and we had a few rest stops for photographs. I had just seen a buzzard and I was trying to point it out to the others when suddenly it wasn’t a buzzard at all. Instead, it behaved very like the male hen harrier we had seen three years ago in the hills south of Burnley. The plumage was very different, though, and this bird came close enough for s to see the white patchat the base of the tail. Our guess that it was a female hen harrier was confirmed when we checked the bird book on returning to the B & B.

The ornamental drives were very fine, and we soon found ourselves in Brockenhurst. The Forester’s Arms provided a good pint of Ringwood 49er and a very acceptable baked potato with chilli, but I’m afraid I earned some Old Git points when I asked the barmaid to turn the excessively loud music down.

We tehn set off for Buley and Ringwood, and after passing through the outskirts of the latter, we came across a welcoming pub in the form of the Alice Lisle, a Fullers’ tied house. They had one hand pump serving Gales HSB and it was this pint which made me think that this was the beer provided by the landlord of the Newport Inn in Braishfield.

We had a fair old hill to climb after Stuckton and came across a load of cyclists who had wimped out and were walking up. I cannot stand being congratulated in a patronising manner by a person who is not even on a bike. However, it was not long before we had reached the B & B, showered and were ready for the Hopping Hare at the Horse & Groom. Mike and I had the mixed grill, and it was more than we could manage.

New Forest break – to Woodgreen

We left home in heavy snow, arrived at Southend Victoria where we managed to get the tandem into the train in once piece, and took some photographs of South Essex looking very white indeed.

On arriving at Liverpool Street we left via the Enormous Iron Monolith and made our way through more heavy snow via the Holborn Viaduct and Blackfriars Bridge into Stamford Street. From there, we used Upper Ground and Belvedere Road, which gave easy access to Waterloo Station. We had just missed the 11.05 but were in plenty of time to drink coffee, eat a pastie and catch the 11.35.

The South-western trains were relatively luxurious. We had to dismantle the tandem but had no difficulty storing it in the area provided for 3 bikes, and we found that the seats were comfortable and the lavatory worked satisfactorily. By the time we arrived at Winchester the sun was shining and most of the snow had gone.

After some fiddling around with the one-way system near the station we eventaully found ourselves on the Sarum Road and begun the long haul out of the town towards very pleasant countryside. There was not a great deal of traffic about and we made steady progress towards Braishfield, where we found the Newport Inn, but were informed by the landlord, who had emerged in blue overalls in order to work on his car, that the pub had just closed. We asked if it was OK to use the loos, which is was, and while we were part-way through a sardine sandwich the landlord reappeared bearing two half-pint glasses full of what looked very much like beer. “These are on the house!” said he, and we consumed what I believe to have been George Gale’s HSB.

On teh way to Kimbridge I lost track of the route on the map but for onceI had correctly programmed the GPS and it knew the way. We traversed the Test and took some photographs of a very fine river. You can always tell that you have left south-east England when the rivers look as though they mean it. We then headed south towards Furzley and entered the New Forest at Blackhill. At one point we saw a treecreeper alight on a telegraph pole, and we also witnessed a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers involved in some kind of aerial ritual.

From near Bramshaw I texted Jeff to say that we were about 8 miles out, although it was probably nearer 10, but we had a sharp climb to the Roger Penny Way and we continued upwards to an exposed plateau where the NW wind was impeding our progress to the extent that, when the road did flatten out, we were unable to exceed 8 mph.

After Hale, we had a chilly, swooping descent into Woodgreen, during which the snow started again. Then came a final climb to the B & B which we found easily, even though it was situated in an unmade road. We arrived around 5.30 and after unpacking and showering, went to the Horse and Groom for well-earned food and beer.