Friday, March 11, 2011

The New Forest

The New Forest is a National Park in the southern part of the UK. A little background information? William The Conqueror, after taking England named this area his 'new hunting ground' in 1079. Nearly 1,000 years later this 'Nova Foresta' still remains unchanged. My prof says it had the most ancient oaks per square mile than any other place in the UK.

So, I left my dorm at about 7:45am and didn't get back until about 5:30pm, so I spent a good part of my day in the Forest. We got off the train at the Brockenhurst station with a really bad map. After a cup of nice, hot coffee we set out to find the forest. So, one might think that since we're in the middle of the forest, it would not be hard to find, right? Nope, everywhere we walked, it all suburbs. And we're walking around thinking, how hard is it to find this thing, its huge! Finally, we stop and ask directions at the local Golf course, and you could so tell the guy wanted to laugh at us because Brockenhurst is in the middle of the New Forest, but we couldn't find it! He told us--with a straight face--to take the footpath through the golf course, but make sure to always look left when we crossed a hole just in case someone was doing their golf swing, and we could jump the fence at hole 13, and we'd be in the forest. Okay, so we make it through the golf course without getting knockout by a golfball, find hole 13 and, much to the on looking golfers dismay, hop the fence into the forest. Hallelujah we found it!  About 10 feet in, we run into bog. We walk left: bog. We walk right: bog. We realize the only way through the bog is well, through the bog. I roll up the hem of my jeans and say goodbye to my nice clean tennis shoes, and cross the bog. Low and behold, what do we see? This tree that looks like it has 'lighting-strike' branches!

Further in past the tree, we find these great trees that have fallen and their roots look really, really cool. 

I could see, if I was a little kid that lived in Brockenhurst, coming out to the New Forest, and making my fort in these roots. How awesome would that be? 

And then, we ran into more bog. I looked at my mud covered shoes, and the black bog water, and then back at my jeans. My shoes were already muddy, but I hoped I could save my jeans from being stained black, so I changed into the rain boots I packed, and just slogged through it. In the bog area, there are theses tufts of grass that grow that are slightly elevated . We were hopping from tuft to tuft trying to avoid the water when Anne took a miss step, one foot lands in the mud and next things we know, she's got one foot still on the tuft and the other is stuck up to the knee in mud. My first thought was: Oh, no, somehow in the middle of a UK forest, I have somehow stumbled into an Indiana Jones film! With a little help from Emma and I, we were able to get her out, and amazingly enough her shoe was still on her foot!

It was around noon by this point, so Emma, Anne and I found a fallen tree and had lunch.

Right near where we had lunch, there was this amazing tree, that had been cut off maybe 10 feet from the ground, so really it was nothing but an over glorified stump, but it was this really cool sort of gold color and had these vertical lines running all down it. I'd never seen this on a tree before. 

So, not every part of the New Forest is forest. It has these wide open fields. After lunch, we stumbled cross one of these and started hiking towards a ridge of hills. In class, we had studied the works of Richard Long, who's this insanely good environmental sculptor ( Inspired by his works, we decided to make a circle of our own for our class journals out of sticks. It started out pretty puny...

We decided it needed to build it up more. So we started gathering more sticks and piling them up. We were doing this, when Emma said from behind me, "We have company." ...I turned around expecting to see humans...oh no. No humans. Wild Horses. They started out just coming towards us very slowly...

Emma, Anne and I just stood there not knowing what to do. Okay, so I've grown up camping and hiking all up in the Appalachian/Smoky Mountains. Snakes: you make a lot of noise. Black bears: you make yourself real big and makes noise...unless you have food, in which case you just give them the food and leave. What are you suppose to do when confronted from Wild Horses? We just stood there, and they came so close to us. This next picture is without zoom....

Allow me to restate for emphasis: This pictures is taken without zoom. We finally  just decided maybe we needed to get out of their way. We we slowly walked away. The horses investigated out backpacks:

They investigated our circle too. The brown one even went and stood right in the middle of it but I wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture that moment. After investigating and looking at us for while, they moved on to the patches of bushes and bracken on the other side of the circle. They never got very far from us, but they started eating while they watched us, and we decided it was safe enough and went back to working on our circle. Here are a few pictures of our finished circle:

We left the circle where we built it. If anyone happens to stumble across it while in the New Forest, it was us! ...When we finished, we hiked to the top of the little spine of hills and decided it was time to find our way back to town. We looked around trying to get our bearings and well...follow the yellow brick road! 

We made it down to the yellow brick road, and followed it. Somehow, during our adventure in the New Forest, we ended up outside the Brockenhurst city limits and had to follow a major road all the way back in. At this point, I think all three of needed a drink, so we went to find a pub! We were walking in the Brockenhurst city centre and I did a double take because there was donkey walking down the middle of the road. I was thinking, Oh, my goodness, I am so dehydrated I am hallucinating a donkey in the middle of the road! Nope, it was really there and there were two of them, and I have the proof to prove it:

I swear, the baby one is so ugly its cute! But we found our pub...The Snakecatcher, and I ordered a nice, cold Strongbow. Strongbow is cider, so imagine my surprise when I'm halfway through it I'm feeling a little lightheaded! It's cider! ...oh, wait, I must be more dehydrated than I thought. I got some more fluids...non-alcoholic ones--in me and I was fine. So, yes mom and dad, I now know why I'm not suppose to drink while dehydrated. :)

Until next time,



  1. What an amazing day! Wild horses! Ancient trees! It really looks magical.

  2. Emily, this is incredible! It sounds like something you'd read in a book, and you got to experience it! I love your sculpture. I wish I could have been there to see the horses. My goodness.

  3. When I first saw the circles on FB I thought you had just walked up on it. Glad to know you've learned the fine art of crop-circle making!