Many months have passed since I last posted; medical problems curtailed much of my wanderings. A couple of minor ops, more tests and changes of medication seem to have eased the problems. Offered a chance of a place to stay for a couple of nights in the New forest, I accepted. In many respects I have doubts and uncertainties concerning my outdoor activities. Questions constantly buzzed around my mind, did I have the same abilities, was I still capable, was the old enjoyment and thrill still there? My time in the New Forest was split over two day walks and travelling light with just a daysack. When I first arrived in Brockenhurst early afternoon I nipped down to the local bakers to get some rolls for packed lunches. A couple of folk where queuing in front of me and so I tagged on the end of the line. A heavy nudge from behind took me by surprise, slightly annoyed I turned around to remonstrate with the person who had pushed me only to come face to face with a donkey who had nonchalantly tagged on to the end of the queue. Poor lad, he was unceremoniously shooed away. On my first walkout I followed bridleways over toward Roydon manor and Dilton farm. A light rain had changed to a steady downpour and the woods smelt fresh and pungent with the scent of wild garlic. It was surprising to see a few caravans on the campsite at Lodge heath; mind, a couple looked as if they had been there for a while. Heading over toward Ladycross Lodge the rain got heavier. Made my way over toward Stubby Copse enclosure and then swung back down through Pignal hill and back.
The following day saw me heading back and around Pignal hill. This part of the forest is bisected with hard dirt tracks, long straight avenues; ideal traffic free cycling routes, but sore on the feet and a tad monotonous for the pedestrian. The secret is to study the map closely and follow footpaths that cut through the trees. Often muddy, however, these less used routes are often byways for the deer and is possible to see where they have been wandering. Tiny, delicate prints of muntjac deer, larger prints of roe deer and occasionally hooves prints of the ponies.The morning had started off dank and drizzly but the day had gradually improved. My main problem was trying to settle down and relax; a bad habit of mine is to keep pushing on. Picking a route around Denny wood I took stock of my route and decided to make my way back through Parkhill inclosure and then back toward Brockenhurst. Just a few miles of fairly gentle walking; it was difficult to slow down and enjoy my walking. Probably I will not really know how things are until I head out with a full pack and spend a few days on the hill.