RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Queen Elizabeth Forest

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The New Elizabethan Age that we’ve been privileged to live through brought, among many other new ideas, the one that the public should have access to forests, moors and mountains.

Today’s walk, 3.5 miles, (5.5 kms) is a good example.

Thank goodness this government did not reverse that idea.

Over a square mile of forest is open to us, all just over the border into Hampshire.

Park in FC car park southwest of Buriton SU784198 and walk on southwest down New Barn road for half a mile, taking the first footpath sign right near an old beech tree with many mended wounded limbs.

Climb the side of Newbarn hanger on a southerly course for another half a mile.

Avoid the path left which follows the edge of the forest.

Ours will meet Staunton Way at cross tracks where we turn right (west), Staunton Way leading us in a grand double curve downhill to meet the South Downs Way near the A3 at Gravel Hill a mile south of Butser.

On the way there, at this time of year, the chalky soil produces wayside crops of sweet-smelling herbs such as marjoram, agrimony, figwort, hemp agrimony and fleabane which is half a metre tall, with clusters of deep yellow flowers.

It was used in the first Elizabethan Age to kill fleas in the bed.

Aren’t we glad we did not live then?

No Morris Travellers; only horses for transport.

You might even find a flower with small lilac coloured petals called vervain here.

All of these attract butterflies such as peacock, red admiral, comma, and speckled wood.

One of the best nectar flowers here too is hardhead, like a small soft thistle which butterflies favour.

At the picnic site turn right onto SDW, northeast.

Three other tracks go northeast too, all of them leading in the same direction, including SDW Horse and Hangers Way.

Tall cool 60-year-old beeches along the ways.

Hangers Way merges into the SDW from the left as we continue up the valley which was carved out during the last Ice Ages 10,000 years ago.

Follow the edge of the forest now into a right-handed loop back to the car park where last week I saw a very pretty little snowberry white Morris Traveller with an undercarriage as tight as a drum.

Obviously never been out in the salt of a more recent mini ice age, otherwise it would have looked like a colander underside.