I don't know if there will ever come a time when we drive through the New Forest and I don't feel a child-like thrill to see ponies, horses and cows grazing on the side of the road. I don't mean they're grazing on the side of the road in the way those of us from the states are used to - behind fences - no, these are free to wander and graze. So you'll often see something like this mare and her foal.
I was asking Matt if he ever actually saw pigs in the New Forest or did they hide out a bit deeper, off the road and not ten minutes later we found this trio munching acorns off to the right.
I loved their snorty sounds and the way their giant ears covered their eyes.
The New Forest was created by William I in 1079 as a hunting ground for deer. The commoners have since then had rights to, amongst other things, turn livestock out in to the forest. I can't say that I understand it much past that but I did read an interesting article the other day in Country Living, I think, about how they round up the hundreds of horses in the fall for health checks and branding. That must be something to see.
Parts of the forest landscape are hard to describe. They're unlike anything I've seen in the states. The best description I could come up with was what would be created if the Great Smokey Mountains and the desert decided to get together and have a baby. Lush and green but strangely dry looking at the same time. Impossible to describe.
This is a view from Ashley's Walk and is the first bit of the New Forest that I really ever saw back when I visited in November of last year. I remember that it was amazingly windy and that I snapped a few photos of a shaggy cow not too far off the path. A horse ambled by us at one point, too. I was also probably insanely nervous because I think it was only my second day with Matt. It was really nice to walk on that same path today, less than a year later, as a married couple. The weather was perfect when I took these photos but there were no cattle or horses along the path - just a few grazing off in the distance.
We did see a tiny herd of cattle as we were pulling in the car park, though.
We were also lucky enough to spot a deer grazing beneath a tree on our way back up the path. She let us get fairly close before bounding off in to the brush.
Another breathtaking view....
And one more...
Seriously, I don't know if I could ever come here without my camera.