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*December, 2019 Regional Ramble – Deerleap to Beaulieu Rd

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Southern Regional Ramble – 5th December 2019 – Deerleap to Beaulieu Road Pony Auction, nr Lyndhurst, New Forest, Hampshire.

This is the last pony auction of the season and it was the perfect day for it – the forest was frosty underfoot with a mist  lingering among the trees, but the sun was trying to come out and brighten everything up, which made for perfect conditions to travel across heathland and grassy plain to this iconic event.  We originally had 8 booked in, but as ever (and unavoidably), 2 cancellations due to not being well left 6 of us to enjoy this trip. This had to become a linear ramble as the circular route was not possible, this being a very boggy area and with the rain that has fallen this Autumn one particular part is simply not passable probably until the Spring.  

On the way we stopped for coffee at a dew pond which had frozen over, and Barney (Jo’s lovely dog), was quite surprised when his foot slipped through the ice at the edge of the pond.  Just after this we were a bit apprehensive to hear bellowing and mooing and saw a huge herd of cows coming across the plain and entering the very track through a boggy wood that we needed.  There were about a 100 head of cattle, so we had decided to let them go through ahead of us when they suddenly about turned and the farmer appeared in his truck carrying their food and led them away from our path, thank goodness!  It was quite a sight to see, and one of those things to be remembered for a long time. Then onward through the now churned up path and across a huge grassy plain until we reached the pony auctions.

Some people don’t like these events, but they are managed scrupulously by the New Forest Livestock Society and there is no cruelty, the ponies are all carefully handled and seem to go to good homes to be brought on as children’s riding ponies or similar.  There were a couple of donkeys, who let their presence be known! Also, some really large horses that were definitely not NF ponies, but looked like ex-racehorses, a good mixture of stock today. Added to this there is the humour and tough-ness of the locals, many of whom live in the forest and are known as “commoners” and the ponies are the very ones that we see grazing in the forest all year round.  Another bonus is that there are food vans with hot dogs, coffee, hot chocolate etc. so it’s a good day out. A colourful country event, and well worth seeing.

It was still fairly early, about 1.30 and the ponies were being loaded up to go to their new homes so we went off for a further ramble of about 2 miles to see more of the scenery, before heading back to the car park.  Just before the car park on a very boggy stretch, we saw a white egret land, a very unusual bird to see in this part of the forest. There’s always something different happening on our rambles, and it makes it all the more worth while to make the effort to get out there and do it!!  Thanks to all for coming, we go every year – so if you couldn’t make it this time keep your eyes open and perhaps next year you will be able to.

Val and Bob.