*October National Ramble – Boltons Bench-Pondhead-The Ridge

17/10/2018

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Boltons Bench – Pondhead – The Ridge.
We had an exceptional turnout today with 23 scooters and a very large number of walkers.  Bit of a grey day but dry so can’t moan at that!  Our first stop was at Pondhead Inclosure which is run by the Pondhead Conservation Trust and Dave Dibden met us at the gate to the inclosure.  Dave is a woodland forester and has worked there for many years using traditional methods to manage the woodland, such as coppicing, layering the hedges, making charcoal and ensuring the habitat is attractive to butterflies and birds.  It is now a Trust and is run by Dave and his team of Volunteers.  It is a magical inclosure and we had an interesting talk from him regarding the work they do and the history of the woodland, he then accompanied us on some of the paths around the inclosure explaining things en route.  If any of you saw “A Year in the New Forest” a month or two ago, Dave was on that talking about life in the NF, so he has a claim to fame!  We had a collection later on, organised by Sue G (thanks Sue!), and I was able to send a donation of £70 into the Trust to help towards their very valuable work.
From there we went onto a track called Beechen Lane which leads through lovely woods to our lunch stop, where the sun actually came out which made the woodland around us look quite different.  After lunch we progressed up to Lyndhurst Ridge which is completely open with lovely views across the New Forest to Lyndhurst and across to Fawley in the distance.  This is a sandy ridge leading to the lovely little New Forest village of Lyndhurst, however, we had made such good time we decided to divert down a path that Bob and I call “The New Forest challenge”.  It wasn’t too much of a challenge today as it’s so dry, but if the weather is wet it’s a different matter!  It is through open heathland and is right off the beaten track and leads to an area called Longwater Lawn which is very boggy normally, today,  for the first time in my memory,  we were able to cross the bog to a bridge which had been inaccessible in the past.  Lots of forest ponies here.
We then returned to Boltons Bench and were homeward bound until the ramble tomorrow.

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