e Ne w Forest
A fi rst time visitor to the New Forest may be surprised to encounter a landscape that consists of much more than simply woodland. To really appreciate the variety of landscapes that make up the New Forest, it is important to understand a little of its history. After the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066, King William I designated the area as his ‘ Nova Foresta’, his New Forest. Back in those days the word forest had a very di erent meaning to today, loosely translated as a hunting ground. The King declared this area for the Crown, and required an unrestricted landscape of trees, heathland and open lawn in which to hunt. As a result, strict laws were imposed on the New Forest; these laws have preserved the area over hundreds of years resulting in the familiar landscape of both woodland and heathland we recognise today.
The woodland areas are perhaps the most appealing for photographers, fortunately the New Forest is home to some of the fi nest old deciduous woods in the country. The inclosures near the town of Lyndhurst are particularly photogenic and boast some of the oldest trees in the forest. From Emery Down, near Lyndhurst, head up the small woodland road towards Bolderwood, and then return to Lyndhurst via the Bolderwood Arboreturm Ornamental Drive. This route passes through some of the fi nest deciduous woodland the forest has to o er, with car parks along the way providing plentiful opportunities to stop and explore. The forest is sectioned into a series of inclosures and there are winding paths all over. For the more adventurous head o the paths and lose yourself in the woods!
Although the chaotic nature of trees can make woodland photography notoriously challenging, things are a little easier in the New Forest. The free roaming ponies, plus large populations of deer, keep the forest fl oor well grazed, preventing clutter from bushes and saplings that make many woodland scenes busy and confusing. One of the fi nest areas for photography along the ornamental drive is Mark Ash Wood. Many ancient beech trees can be found in this woodland, some of which have been pollarded to create enormous spreading branches.
A little further along the road, the Knightwood Inclosure is home to many of the oldest trees in the forest, including its most famous resident the Knightwood Oak. This enormous tree, believed to be between 450– 600 years old, is not the easiest to photograph, but many mature oaks in the nearby woodlands make excellent subjects.
As you would expect, the deciduous woodlands look their best in late autumn, when the trees are resplendent in golden