Route for a Hampshire walk near Fritham
PUBLISHED: 11:40 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:19 14 August 2020
A walk from Fritham, home to one of the New Forest’s best-loved pubs
Peacefully situated in the northern half of the New Forest, the village of Fritham is a popular spot thanks not only to its attractive location, but even more to its pub, the 17th century Royal Oak, a charming thatched hostelry, full of character.
Recommended by the Good Pub Guide, the award-winning pub has been run by the same family for over two decades. It serves real ales straight from the cask and locally sourced ploughman's lunches. Newly opened in 2019, a pop-up farm shop selling New Forest farm produce is located in the pub garden. The meat comes from the family's own farm adjoining the pub. Accommodation is available all year round in hand-built shepherd's huts next door. New Forest ponies are a common sight on the green.
Although quiet today, albeit well-frequented by visitors, Fritham has not always been so. From the 1860s to the 1920s it was home to the Schultze Gunpowder Factory, which manufactured smokeless gunpowder, used for sporting guns. Man-made Eyeworth Pond, one of the New Forest's beauty spots passed near the start of the walk, provided water for the manufacturing process.
During World War II the establishment of the nearby Ashley Walk Bombing Range shattered the peace of the area even more. A vast area of heathland - over 5,000 acres (equivalent to 2,833 football pitches) was used as a bombing range to test a huge variety of explosives. By the end of the war the land was pockmarked with craters and defaced with rubble and targets, most removed thereafter. The small brick observation shelter passed just before point 3 is the only remaining building left.
There is good walking in all directions from Fritham, taking in both heath and woodland scenery. The walk can easily be extended at point 3 for those who would like a longer route. Whichever you choose, a welcoming pub awaits you at the end.
- Start/finish:Fritham car park beyond pub (SU230140)
- Map: OS Explorer OL22
- Distance: six miles (9km); longer option eight miles (13km)
- Terrain: Forest and heathland paths and tracks. Cycle trail map, which also shows main walking paths/tracks, recommended (available from the New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst)
- Time: Two and a half to three hours (four hours for longer walk)
- Refreshments: Royal Oak, Fritham
- Public transport: None to start
- Further information: New Forest Shepherd's Huts, next to the Royal Oak, 07464 545428; newforestshepherdshuts.co.uk
1 (SU230140) Return to the car park entrance where you turn left, but just before the road note the small information panel which tells you about the black metal post box behind it. This was put here by the Schultze Gunpowder Factory, which operated near Eyeworth pond from the 1860s until the early 20th century. It was erected to make the postman's life easier in the days before delivery vans. Follow the road down passing on the right picturesque Eyeworth Pond, which was created by damming a brook to provide water for the factory, based at Eyeworth Lodge. Continue past the Lodge to Oak Tree Cottage and carry on along the path to the right of the barrier heading northwards through Eyeworth Wood. Emerging from the wood the path continues north-east across Homy Ridge heath to a junction by a Scots Pine on the right. Bear left here heading north-west gently downhill and up again to the Telegraph Hill car park.
2 (SU228166) Turn left at the road and almost immediately left again along a track which leads you over the heath in a southerly direction towards Amberwood Inclosure (inclosures are timber plantations managed by the Forestry Commission). Ignore turns, keeping to the main track to the west of Islands Thorns Inclosure, passing a pool on your right. Just before you reach Amberwood Inclosure note a small brick building over to your right. In it - a former World War II observation shelter - you will find an information panel about the bombing range for which this peaceful heathland over which you have just walked was used. A great variety of explosives were tested.
3 (SU207141) At a T-junction on the edge of Amberwood Inclosure you join a gravel track/cycle route (these are marked with numbered wooden posts across the New Forest). For the shorter walk (marked red on the map) turn left to return to the car park. To do the longer blue trail turn right at the T-junction and continue heading west for just over a mile, then south-west passing a tumulus on the right.
4 (SU193135) Turn sharp left at the point where the cycle track ahead along Hampton Ridge continues with the ground sloping away more obviously to the left. The non-cycle track leads you down into Alderhill Inclosure where you turn left at an intersection and keep ahead to where you meet another track and turn sharp right down to cross the Latchmore Brook. Continue along the gravel track into Sloden Inclosure and follow the main track ignoring turns. This leads you out of the woodland at its eastern edge, bearing round right to a T-junction.
5 (SU217131) Turn left along this wide flat gravel track across Fritham Plain back to the car park.
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