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The start of winter is a perfect time to get out and enjoy the New Forest. Some of the most popular walks and trails for visitors during the summer months are quieter now, offering opportunities to really take in the scenery and wildlife around you.
Growing up in Brockenhurst, I remember going on family walks along the Ober Water trail. It was, and still is, one of my favourite local trails, and luckily in my role as South Walk Ranger for the Forestry Commission, I get to visit the area on a regular basis.
Part of my job is to make sure visitors and regular users of the New Forest enjoy the forest responsibly, so you’ll often find me in areas like Ober Water where the beautiful scenery is popular among walkers. Along with the other rangers at the Forestry Commission, I’m also responsible for educating visitors by providing them with information about the woodland and wildlife, speaking to them about the projects we’re carrying out in the New Forest and guiding them through the forest to make sure they get the best from their visit.
Visiting the forest at this time of year is particularly special; the trees are preparing themselves for winter whilst the remaining gold and red leaves cling on, having boasted an amazing display of autumnal colours. The Ober Water trail is a great spot to soak up the last signs of autumn and experience the wildlife as you walk along the river and through the woodland. Along the peaceful trail you may spot a deer or two, as well as the brightly coloured Kingfisher hunting by the river bank.
There are two signposted routes to take along the Ober Water; a yellow route and a slightly longer red route. As part of the Recreation team, we try to offer forest users alternatives, so even at this one site we feel we have something for everyone. Both routes are suitable for all abilities and have a few resting places along the way, so you can stop and take in the scenery. Both walks can be started from Whitefield Moor near Brockenhurst and are 1 to 1.5 miles long. Ober Water is the perfect choice for a winter walk so pay a visit when you next feel like getting out and about and I’m certain it will soon be on your list of favourite walks.
Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest for more information on New Forest walks, or speak to one of our Rangers out and about in the forest.
Sandy Shore, South Walk Ranger