From Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst in the New Forest ๐Ÿ‘ฃ

In April I walked from Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst and back in the space of two days. This post focuses on the first day walking from Brockenhurst railway station.

Iโ€™ve created a route of the walk here.

These are probably the New Forest’s biggest towns, with Brockenhurst being bigger than Bournemouth until the advent of the railways in the mid to late-1800s.

I’ve walked many times in the New Forest. It’s an exceptional place for ancient trees, birds and for fungi. But visiting it this time it felt like it was suffering from an absence of rain, it looked thirsty. In many of the more open landscapes it looked bare and over-grazed. On these two warm and sunny days I didnโ€™t see a single butterfly! These are just my own observations and may not be accurate.

A trackway that leads into Roydon Woods from nearby Brockenhurst opens the door to the walk.

A disused barn with oak planks

A New Forest pony grazing

I found very little fungi. The whole Forest appeared to be exceptionally dry for the time of year. This is probably lumpy bracket.

The trackway through Roydon Woods, now fenced on all sides since I last visited in 2019.

There were a few of these flies basking in the sun. I think they are St, Markโ€™s flies or similar.

The sporophytes of juniper hair cap moss growing on a wood bank.

There is something quite muscular about this dead standing oak, no doubt full of life on the inside.

The arrival of birch leaves is one of my favourite sights each spring.

A close up of moss photosynthesising

I had no idea that this bracken stalk had a little insect sat atop it. That often happens with macro images.

Greater stitchwort flower

Walking along the track a bird on a stump caught my eye. I realised it was a nuthatch and managed to catch a photo of it before it flew to cover. They are usually high in the treetops. This silent bird may have been gathering food for nestlings.

The Lymington River

Primroses and celandines gathering around the mossy buttresses of an oak

Ash dieback has changed the look and feel of parts of the older woodlands around Brockenhurst. The woodland is more open and clearly depleted. Ash trunks lie as if storm ravaged. This is good conservation woodland management for fungi and deadwood invertebrates.

Wood anemones at their peak, surrounded by dogs mercury, another plant of ancient woodland

A triple decker of Ganoderma bracket fungus on the remains of a beech tree

Carvings of an owl and oak leaves made in this dead tree

Arriving on Beaulieu Heath I was baffled by the sights of what looked like chalk downland in the distance. Looking at the map it appeared to be the Isle of Wight!

One of the few fungi I found, a small bracket on a fallen branch

The first beech leaves: they can be eaten (not sure if they affect people with allergies) and also used to make gin. They are soft at first but like their oak relatives will soon toughen up.

A winding forestry trail where the landscape becomes less diverse and the understory generally thins out. This is more of a plantation landscape.

Cladionia lichens on a piece of old pine wood

Can you see the crab spider here? I was astonished. It had matched the red and green of the wood spurge it was hiding in. Crab spiders are known to be able to mimic colours of plants around them. This seemed so specific, as the spurge will not keep the reddish colour for long.

One of my favourite beech trees, encrusted in white lichens

A selection of images showing the lichen communities that can be found in some parts of the Forest.

Ferns acting as epiphytes on this heavily leaning oak tree

To finish, before arriving in Lyndhurst, a selection of beech trees and one with a massive Ganoderma bracket.

Thanks for reading.

More from the New Forest

#FungiFriday: a special day in the New Forest

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#FungiFriday 10th April 2020 (via October 2017)

With another week of social distancing and time spent indoors, I am once again recalling a classic mushroom experience. Sorry to disappoint both of my readers, but this does not involve the ingestion of hallucingenic fungi. If I said that on Instagram I would lose probably all my followers. Don’t tar me with the liberty cap brush!

This week I am recalling one of the great days out I’ve had in search of mushrooms to photograph, hot on the heels of last week’s look back at 2019’s highlight. This time I invite you to the New Forest, virtually, and the moment I snapped what I think is the most perfect mushroom scene I have witnessed.

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It was October 2017 and I’d travelled from London by train to Brockenhurst to do a long circular walk from the station, taking in some beautiful ancient woodland, plantation and bits of heath. The New Forest is a National Park in Hampshire, southern England. It is home some of the most intact stretches of semi-natural woodland in Europe. Semi-natural woodland equals mushrooms.

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On arrival the signs were good because the dead wood held smaller shrooms in nice condition, such as this probable bonnet. That’s a mushroom name I wish existed.

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The richer areas of woodland were under beech. You can see that the leaves had already fallen, what can be a bit of a pain for photographing shrooms because they’re all hidden, basically.

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This mushroom seems to dissolve into the background glow of the newly fallen beech leaves.

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Looking for fungi, it’s difficult to ignore the mushroom of the insect world otherwise known as a dor beetle.

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One of the pains of photographing fungi is how much time you have to spend down in the dirt. Upon leaving the first area of woodland on this circular walk, a gang of bonnet mushrooms were poking their heads out from a fence post at head height. This is the kind of thing you see in peak mushroom season.

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The walk left entered more grassy and open woodland at the edge of the heath. This is a good place to find fungi. This Leccinum or birch bolete was pushing the boat out. Half the shroom had already been eaten on the other side by slugs!

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The walk followed on to the edge of Beaulieu Heath. The richest parts of the New Forest are those which don’t suffer from over-grazing. This tawny grisette was in a grassy area of heathland interspersed with oak and birch trees. It should have been an indicator of peak mushroom. It was.

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A metre or so away from the footpath this fly agaric was unmissable. I crouched down in front of it to find the best way to get a photo. A family came out of a cottage across the way and stopped to see what I was doing. ‘Oooh, a magic mushroom!’ they said. I didn’t get into discussing how in fact it is a mushroom that has hallucinogenic tendencies and is consumed for tribal purposes in northern Scandinavia. It should also be considered poisonous as standard.

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Here is the VIP behind the scenes view. A perfect end to a classic mushroom photography experience. Here’s to more special mushroom days in autumn 2020. The way things are going it will probably be another mushroom reminiscence therapy next week.

Thanks for reading. Stay away from each other. Both of you.

More mushrooms

 

Brockenhurst

 







The hotel garden,

where the man hocks the moon

from the back of his throat,

below a dying yew sending out

final needles from its pollarded elbows.




Brockenhurst.





The boredom of the night field,

ponies tasting the cricket green,

wet between their teeth,

the dew brightens their goofy enamel.





For us: the big bat darkness

of oak woodland,

lichens ogling from tiny

ovals of eyes โ€“





the air here is clean.