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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Forest National Park, England, U.K. – Apr. 6-7, 2012

Oh happy, happy days!  As if being back in Salt wasn’t enough to bring on the jubilation, for our second and third nights back home we also managed to find a campground close to what we got used to in California; rather laid back, no electrical hook-ups, and wide open hiking spaces.  Let me tell you, we could hardly believe our good fortune that first afternoon as we pulled out our camp chairs, sat in the sun and toasted to being free once again.

New Forest National Park, England’s smallest National Park, is built on an old WWII air force base, a detail easily overlooked while gazing at the wild ponies crossing the vast, open fields.   Rosco didn’t pay much heed to the ponies but River never quite got used to them.  (I’m sure she was wondering why those big dogs get to run around off leash all the time—sometimes right through her own yard.)

No electrical hook-ups meant we were back on solar – yahoo!  The first day was mostly sunny so we knew we’d be fine, but as the next few days were supposed to be cloudy and rainy we decided to commit to only one night at a time.  By mid-morning on the second day our batteries had charged back to 80% (despite the overcast conditions) and we knew we could last another night so we stayed right where we were.

We did a couple of hikes, the first utilizing some public footpaths (my favorite part of the UK) to walk into Fritham hoping to find some gin.   After three miles we never did locate a store, but happened upon a Free House where we refreshed with a half of Guiness and some peanuts before heading home.  

Our second hike was more traditional; we just set off into the woods on various paths leading to and fro.  The Noses were off-leash and loving every minute of it.  We stopped for a quick picnic lunch in a meadow and watched a large herd of deer bound through the woods (thankfully unseen by R&R.)  I haven’t seen a herd that large since travelling in Africa.  They were delightful.

The campground is very unstructured which we enjoyed.  You just drive in and park where you want to, all they ask is that you keep 20 meters away from a neighbor.  It has large, open areas which are great for the sunshine as well as some wooded spots if you prefer the shade. 

It was a well-timed find (found by SP after we took a wrong turn on one of our drives in Peppercorn) reminding us of what we really enjoy about this life:  Unstructured freedom.