NEW FOREST WALKING FESTIVAL. New Forest Ramble – 31st October 2014.
This year I was very pleased to be approached by the National Park Authority with a view to Disabled Ramblers putting on a walk as part of the Walking Festival which ran from 18th October to 2nd November. Consequently, I put on a Cat 1 ramble round a local Inclosure near me on the 31st October, it was essentially meant for members of the public to come by public transport and to enable them to get out into the New Forest along tracks that they wouldn’t be able to access on their own. In the event, we had 6 members of the public altogether on an assortment of vehicles, and they all came by car! Bob and I were on our trusty TGAs, there were two shoprider-type scooters, (one ridden by a lovely lady of 83), a power-chair and a motorised wheelchair, plus 3 walkers who were partners or friends of the disabled person.
The Inclosure is at Ashurst and is one we use a lot to access many of my favourite rambles onto the open Forest, but all on its own it is a very nice ramble – just perfect for this event as it is a good even track and not too hilly, and is home to many butterflies in the summer months, as it was we saw quite a few Red Admirals and Speckled Browns and also a lot of damsel flies (dragonflies species – for those who may not know!), plus buzzards and most pleasing of all some deer, which really made the day for the guests, and of course, the lovely New Forest ponies and some cattle. Unfortunately, we were too early in the day to see the witches, goblins, pixies etc which undoubtedly came out later in the evening!
Something else which made the day very interesting was the abundance of fungi, this year has been fantastic in the New Forest for the toadstools and fungus and we had some reference books brought by my friend from New Forest Access For All, which is a small group which helps those with any problems with access issues in the area. We spent a leisurely time trying to work out which fungi was which, but there are so many it would need an expert to be present. We took our little group up onto the open Forest for lunch so they could see the panorama of views and I pointed out where many of our rambles go from that point. They really enjoyed themselves and the NPA hope to work with us in the near future with, I hope, a view to doing some more of these rambles for members of the public, and hopefully, more potential members for DR. It was very enjoyable and successful and well worth doing.
Val Rawlings & Bob McLellan.