We decided to indoctrinate them into the wonderful world of geocaching, so after lunch we headed down to the South Downs Way, just east of Winchester, to do some finding. It’s a very pretty area – all rolling hills divided into a giant patchwork of multicoloured fields, the edges studded with little copses. Very pastoral. Though to be honest in the first sun of the summer pretty much anything looks appealing! We wandered along the South Downs Way for a bit to find cache 1. It was along a little stream which confused us for a but until we remembered that we were using the 1:50,000 map rather than our usual 1:25,000, and so the stream was too little to appear! Cache 1 was not too hard to find once we used the clue, and we dropped one of the travel bugs and gained an apple shaped hole punch! Cache 2 was along a disused railway line and was full of books and CDs. We started to feel a bit bad that we hadn’t brought any treasures apart from the squashed coins that we liberated from Beth’s wallet. After cache 3 (on a windy hill where we gained a bug that wants to go to India), we called it a day and drove leisurely back to Hook.
On Sunday we decided to explore the New Forest as I, despite growing up about an hour away, had never been there. It turned out to be very nice, full of biking paths that reminded me of the American national parks. We went for a bimbley walk that we’d got out of a book and enjoyed the ponies, crazy budding conifers and a reptile park that we stumbled along. I can now identify an adder more reliably and we saw a natterjack toad. After lunch on a log we found a great climbing tree and it only took Ian and James about 10 minutes to work out how to get up it!!
We decided to have a look for one last cache which took us up onto a beautiful down (onto beautiful downs?) where there were very few people. Despite only being a few miles from Southampton, we couldn’t see anything apart from thick trees from the top – it felt properly wildernessy- something I wasn’t expecting at all. We added cattle to our list of animals for the day, and tested their tameness by walking right through the middle of them to get to the cache (not very responsible!). I think that they must have been made in the Milton Keynes style!
New Forest pony
I’d definitely love to come back to the New Forest, sometime when it is warm and dry enough to explore by bike, but not in the summer, as I imagine that it’d be way too busy. There are so few woods left in England that I really can’t remember the last time that I stood amongst trees, what weren’t a plantation, and couldn’t see out. It is most calming and serene.