New slow guide to New Forest nature

Daily Echo: ON YOUR DOORSTEP: Blashford Lakes make a great destination for all the family. ON YOUR DOORSTEP: Blashford Lakes make a great destination for all the family.

IT IS always good to have warm and enthusiastic comments written about your organisation and the work you do.

In her latest book Slow New Forest (A Bradt Travel Guide), Emily Laurence Baker does exactly that about the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The premise of the book is to invite you to slow down and experience a highly distinctive corner of Britain and a wonderful jewel in Hampshire.

By taking part in guided walks through ancient woodlands and heaths, joining volunteer work parties and experiencing the Trust’s education work, Emily is able to celebrate the special qualities of the New Forest and the people and wildlife that live there.

Here is a snapshot of some of the experiences that Emily had with the Wildlife Trust and hopefully they will inspire you to take a ‘Slow’ look at what’s on your doorstep.

Roydon Woods (Brockenhurst) – a diverse landscape of ancient woodland, conifers, meadows and streams within its 950 acres. The nature reserve is home to many animals including badger, deer, owls and bats. In winter you will see a marvellous array of lichens. Download the self-guided walks from the Trust’s website.

Blashford Lakes (near Ringwood) – created from flooded gravel pits and and used for drinking water storage, Blashford Lakes is now a bustling centre of activity for both wildlife and people.

Thousands of birds use this site all year round, and with many hides, this is a great destination to bring your family, whatever the time of year. In winter over 5,000 wildfowl flock to the lakes including gadwall, goldeneye and goosander.

Testwood Lakes (Totton) – the 150 acre nature reserve is a mix of lakes, grassland and woodland with surfaced paths and bird hides. It has a busy education centre that hosts school and adult groups. The lakes attract large numbers of wildfowl during the winter including mallard, teal, shoveler, tufted duck, gadwall and wigeon.

Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes – These internationally important coastal marshes and mudflats are teeming with fish and as a result thousands of seabirds and waders. In winter you can admire the brent geese, dunlin and black-tailed godwit, all roosting and feeding in the sheltered marshes. As well as being a great place to explore, you’ll be able to take in the stunning vistas across the Solent to Hurst Castle and the Isle of Wight.

It has been said that “the Slow Movement is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible.”

As Emily says, “Before I wrote Slow New Forest, I’d driven past Testwood Lakes Nature Reserve a million times without stopping. I discovered an entire universe of wildlife right by Southampton that I’d never realised was there. If you can’t join one of the guided walks, the self-guided tour is highly enjoyable.”

So the message from the Wildlife Trust is take time to explore – don’t rush it, get to know an area and you’ll be as delighted as Emily Laurence Baker by what you find.

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