Monday, April 14

Ibsley Common - A trip into New Forest history Pt 1

Time on my hands today. And with a weather forecast for reasonable weather it felt the right time for a longish wander in the New Forest. Somewhere different for a change. Ibsley Common, north of Ringwood, is an area I've not really explored. But based on a couple of past incursions, and some subsequent web research it felt like time to see whether the valley ground was dry or still liable to be boggy underfoot.

Parking near the Red Shoot Pub (GR 188 094) I followed the tarmac road north and quickly came to the edge of the common land. Only the one stile to cross over and I'd be on open land. A pity then that the noveau rich of this area, in an effort, I assume, to deter tourists from the nearby Red Shoot campsite, had chosen to make the stile and surrounding fence stock proof by copious amount of chicken wire. Not even a rabbit could have got pass this obstruction. Cursing profusely at the narrow mindedness of the individual concerned my day started by carrying two medium sized collies over the stile whilst ensuring my footing remained firm, and the dogs unafraid at their aerial trip.
On past the electric fencing, the way ahead clearly laid out in case the pedestrian may inadvertently wander slack jawed into the paddocks alongside. Stalag IX couldn't have wished for better protection from stragglers. A pity the fields were totally empty of any stock.

Up the hill and onto the ridge and my first checkpoint - a brightly painted trig point.

Trig point @ GR 175103

The wide track along the ridge was familiar ground leading to the DF Site explored on a previous trip, but a chance this time to look over the bunker position a few hundred metres to the south of it. .

DF site

Rubble strewn in the entrance, and recollected warning about an possible adder nest meant a quick look was enough for today.

The Old Bunker

The wind gusting from the NW meant the weak sun had its work cut to keep me warm, so picking up the pace I continued to follow the ridge track onwards to Hasley Hill Inclosure off in the distance.

Hasley Hill

The sight of an occasional buzzard, testing the thermals, my only visiting company so far today.

Once at the Inclosure there was a wider track to follow, and quickly covered. A short halt was called near to the landmark known as the Little Witch. I sat surveying the heathland trying to work out my next challenge. Where was the minor track, marked on the OS map, necessary to cross the valley to Alderhill Inclosure?

The break was a good move on my part as it turned out. I spotted a string of walkers at my proposed destination, moving in my general direction. By the time I was ready to move on they had appeared close by, marking the path I should follow, until then hidden by the rise of the hill on which I sat.

Muddy work now with a couple of streams to ford, and the ubiquitous yellow clay, local to the area, underfoot at times. A slippery surface at the best of times, but worse when descending the slope.

Up onto Hampton Ridge (GR 183135) a wide well surfaced track, possibly a legacy from the wartime activity in the area. Moving quickly now, in the distance the clouds now gathering dark and ominous. The wind, previously gusty, now starting to pick up strength as the temperature dropped.

Rain was on the way, and my waterproofs safely stored away - in my car a couple of hours away. Well it had been such a pleasant day I'd opted for the Montane windshirt -a good move so far, but not a garment I'd ever trust as waterproof when caught on a ridge in a strong wind driven downpour.

(Tumulus/Sub Pen S of Pitts Wood GR201 142)

With one eye on the clouds I rapidly by-passed the Tumulus to my right (the lump in the middle behind the pond - possbly a WWII submarine pen mock up) With threatening clouds now was not the time to tarry and explore, although judging by the number of tracks around the foor of the mound there was plenty to look over at some future time.

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