70a – Lymington to Keyhaven

Lymington River looked spectacular this morning.  Wow!

Lymington RiverTo the south east of the town is a large marina.  It went on and on for some two thirds of a mile in an endless clang of ropes slapping against masts.  Just beyond the marina, however, it became much quieter.  We entered the Salterns Nature Reserve and the Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes.  The entire area used to be the site of old saltworkings which existed from Roman times.  These workings stretched all the way down to Hurst Castle, over 3 miles away, and were once the largest area of salt works in the country.  Shallow lagoons called salterns were used to hold sea water to start the evaporation process.  This reduced to a briny solution which was then put into pans and heated until only the sea salt remained.

Lymington & Keyhaven MarshesAlthough they lasted for some 2,000 years, the saltworkings here eventually fell into decline due to the popularity of cheaper rock salt from Cheshire.  By 1865 they had disappeared.  Still, we found that lagoons here still served a good purpose for some local inhabitants.

GullAnd as the lagoons continued to bake in the sun, they provided a glaze of glorious green across the spring landscape.  Beautiful!

Lymington & Keyhaven Marshes

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Bridge over the Lymington River:  N 50° 45.785 W 001° 32.212
  • Salterns Nature Reserve:  N 50° 44.650 W 001° 31.750
  • Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes:  N 50° 43.585 W 001° 33.112

Walk #70 Statistics (of which this post forms the first part):

69i – Needs Oar Point to Lymington

There are times, I imagine, when postmen think twice about whether to deliver letter or not.

Cow and Cottage

We met quite a few cows on our road trip today.  We treated them with caution and respect; we have been chased or herded out of fields on more than one occasion and cannot say we enjoyed those experiences.

In contrast to this, we met a very friendly little pony who came to say hello.

Friendly Pony

We eventually got off the road and onto a track running along side a field – at last!  But almost immediately we hit a bit of a snag.

A Slight Blockage

Why this tree had fallen I have no idea.  It felt like it had been put there deliberately in order to hamper our progress, although I am sure this is not the case.  We managed to navigate our way around the root-ball, which had been ripped from its moorings, and continue.  The track led us to a picturesque lake.

Lake

Look!  Tadpoles!

Tadpoles

Leaving the pond was not quite as easy as getting there.  Deb showed us she really ought to be in a circus (she says that life with us makes her feel like she already is).

Tightrope DebAnd then, after a bit more road and 17 long miles today (well done, kids – that’s a record for you!) we finally reached Lymington.  Two days of road walk was over.  We were back at the coast and could continue on our Coastal Path.

Lymington at Last!

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Cow Pretending to be a Postman:  N 50° 46.642 W 001° 26.201
  • Arboreal Obstruction:  N 50° 45.832 W 001° 28.800
  • Lake:  N 50° 45.810 W 001° 29.630
  • Arriving at Lymington:  N 50° 45.531 W 001° 31.712

Walk #69 Statistics (of which this post forms the final part):

69h – St Leonard’s Grange to Needs Oar Point

As we left St Leonard’s Grange we passed Needs Oar Point.  It is just a field today, but for a brief period it was an airfield during World War Two.

Needs Oar Point

In 1943 the land was levelled, ditches filled in, hedges removed, and an airfield created.  On 10 and 11 April 1944 No 146 Wing, 84 Group of the Second Tactical Airforce moved in.  They immediately started flying sorties over France in preparation for the D-Day Landings.  Needs Oar Point eventually became home to some 100+ Hawker Typhoon fighter-bombers, attacking road, rail and radar sites.  Many of the men lived in tents in the field given the temporary nature of the airfield.  Casualty rates for Typhoon pilots was high.  They flew their missions low, providing close-level air support, and so if hit there was no height in which to bail out.

On D-Day and for the four weeks afterwards the aircraft which flew from here supported the ground troops and attacked German headquarters.  It is said that for a few days around D-Day itself, Needs Oar Point was the busiest airfield in Britain.  In July 1944 the squadrons based here were moved to Hurn for two weeks, before moving on again to bases built in Normandy.

For just eleven weeks this field played a critical part in the War.  It is now returned to its original use; were it not for the small memorial placed here people like us would pass it by without knowing of its importance.

Needs Oar Point Poem

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Needs Oar Point:  N 50° 46.680 W 001° 25.930

Walk #69 Statistics (of which this post forms the eighth part):

69g – Buckler’s Hard to St Leonard’s Grange

Every now and again I take a picture of roadkill.  My wife looks at me in exasperation as I take pictures of various animals which have been flattened and split open before their time.  I accept that it is something of a strange habit.

On this particular day we trod a path involving 15 miles of tarmac.  There is a certain amount of tedium in this.  We gladly accept objects of interest when they present themselves.  Sometimes these points of interest happen to be obscenely mutilated members of the wildlife community whose very existence has been horrifically compromised by a metal monster of the modern age.

I am afraid that I myself have contributed to roadside casualties.  My first was a sparrow in Hampstead, many years ago.  As I drove up Finchley Road towards Jack Straws Castle the little bird hopped out into the middle of the road.  There was nothing I could do – there was another car right behind me.  For the second or so it had left I stared at it, willing it to fly off again.  Of course, this was the worst thing to do.  As I stared at it I am convinced that I also, subconsciously, lined my wheels up to squash it flat.  That is exactly what happened.  There was little bump which was insignificantly small compared to the guilt I felt in creating it.

The roadkill which exhibited itself to us today was a slightly odd example.  This time it was a pheasant.  It showed us its lunch (thereby rather putting me off the thought of eating my own) and its eye stared at me from a strangely curious position – it was clasped in its beak. It was almost as if the pheasant’s eye had popped out as the car had run over it and that the bird, in its one final, desperate act had sprung after it, caught it, and then dropped dead.

Sometimes, roadkill is morbidly fascinating.

Eyecatching, you might say.

Eyecatching Roadkill

As we reached St Leonard’s Grange we found the ruins of an enormous medieval grange barn, reputed to be one of the largest barns in Europe in its day.  It stood some 300 feet long and over 50 feet wide and was used by the Church to collect the tithe (one tenth of your annual produce or earnings) which were then used to support the Church.

St Leonard's Grange Barn

At St Leonard’s Grange we turned west and began our long road walk to Lymington.  The beasts of the New Forest kept us company at various points.  There were the pheasants of the fields (who, because they were not pheasants of the road, had their lives in tact).

Pheasant

The horses were very friendly.  Pleased to meet you!

Ben Meets a HorseIn fact this horse was so friendly it decided to walk with us for a while.  It didn’t journey far with us, preferring ultimately to stick with its friends rather than with us.  However, its company was very much appreciated for as long as it lasted.

Guest Walking Horse

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Road out of Buckler’s Hard:  N 50° 47.692 W 001° 25.357
  • St Leonard’s Grange Barn:  N 50° 46.898 W 001° 25.470
  • Horses:  N 50° 46.729 W 001° 25.800

Walk #69 Statistics (of which this post forms the seventh part):

69f – Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard

How small is the smallest pony you’ve ever seen?  We saw a tiny one!  Look at the bird standing just behind it and you’ll see how very small this pony was.

Tiny PonyAfter many miles of road walking we were pleased, finally, to get off the tarmac and onto a woodland path.  This path led us back south, out of Beaulieu and down to Buckler’s Hard.

Woodland Path from Beaulieu to Buckler's HardBuckler’s Hard forms part of the Beaulieu Estate and is an 18th Century shipbuilding village situated on the south bank of the Beaulieu River.  Three of the ships which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 were built here.  Today the entire village is a maritime museum.  Every cottage in the terrace seemed to be a mini-museum in its own right:  the Shipbuilder’s Cottage; the village pub; the chapel – the whole village was laid out to be explored.

Buckler's HardBut we were not here to explore.  We passed through unseen and continued on our journey.  We left this…

Beaulieu River…and went back to this…

Road South of Buckler's HardTake a deep breath, put your head down and plod on everyone – we’ll get through this…

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Buckler’s Hard:  N 50° 47.902 W 001° 25.270

Walk #69 Statistics (of which this post forms the sixth part):

69e – Beaulieu

Beaulieu is well known for its connection with cars.  It is home to the world-famous Beaulieu National Motor Museum.  I went there as a child.  I cannot remember too much about it, except I remember a car shaped like an orange.  Literally.  It was a giant dimpled piece of fruit with wheels and a windscreen.  Our Coastal Path today (which was not very coastal at all – we were four miles inland at this point) would not take us to the museum, but it did take us by a garage.

Beaulieu GarageI walked up to the showroom window.  There were some very expensive-looking cars inside, but I couldn’t get a good picture due to the glare of the sun.

Beaulieu GarageIf I went inside I would be able to get a much better picture.  But as I approached the entrance I saw this:

Beaulieu Garage House RulesI shifted my backpack uncomfortably, causing my dangling camera to swing on its strap.  Perhaps browsing cars was not the best idea.  We were, after all, supposed to be walking the coast, not driving it…

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Beaulieu Garage:  N 50° 49.072 W 001° 27.195

Walk #69 Statistics (of which this post forms the fifth part):

69d – The New Forest to Beaulieu

When we reached Beaulieu, the others plodded on while I stopped to take a photo.  After all, it really is quite a beautiful place.

BeaulieuAs I stood still for a quiet moment and took in the view I heard my wife calling me.  There was a sound of urgency in her voice.  I turned and looked.  She was standing on the pavement a couple of hundred feet away.  The traffic had stopped.  She was looking at me wide eyed, beckoning frantically.  She called again.  There was something in the road.  A large lorry was at the head of the queue of cars.  I couldn’t see the kids.  All of a sudden I realised something was wrong.  I sprinted over.  My GPS at this point registered 10.9 miles per hour against an average of 2.3 miles per hour over the day as a whole.  You can see the spike in the graph HERE.

My wife was standing on the pavement to other side of the road.  I turned my head in both directions quickly, choosing a small gap in the still-moving traffic on my side and dashing over.  Where were the kids?  All of a sudden I saw them, standing next to my wife.  A flash of emotion pulsed inside me – relief that my kids were safe, yet a split-second, passing sense of anger that there had been any suggestion that they were not.

Of course, there had been no such suggestion.  I had misinterpreted my wife’s frantic gestures (misinterpreting Deb’s gestures is a speciality of mine).  What she was waving me over for was this photo opportunity:

Cow Stopping Traffic, BeaulieuPhew!

Such is daily life in the New Forest…

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Cow in Road:  N 50° 49.152 W 001° 27.075

Walk #69 Statistics (of which this post forms the fourth part):

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