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THREE DAYS' TOUR FROM RYDE.
(By the Undercliff first.)
Shorwell...... 1 Yarmouth ..... Shanklin .... 2 Brixton ...... 2 Shalfleet...... Luccombe .... 2 Mottistone .... 2 Newtown ..... Bonchurch.
Brooke ...... 2 Carisbrooke .... Ventnor ....... 1 Freshwater...... 41 Newport .......... Steephill.......
Alum Bay ........
2 Wooton Bridge.... St. Lawrence
-Ryde ... Niton.
Total ...... 183
THE NEW FOREST;
AND THE WATERING-PLACES OF THE HAMPSHIRE
L'AIL to the New Forest! Who has not longed to explore the recesses of this sylvan labyrinth, and thread the tangled mazes of a woodland region, the very name of which
evokes the associations of History, Poetry, and Romance ? The want of some guide to its secluded beauties, and the impediments of a slow and somewhat expensive mode of conveyance, have both tended to keep the metropolitan denizen in ignorance of its attractions; but hoping to supply in the following pages the first deficiency, and pointing out the way in which the second has been superseded, we may fairly anticipate each summer will bring its thousands into acquaintance with a spot that otherwise would have been relinquished in favour of some more hacknied resort.
By the extension of the South-Western Railway from Southampton to Dorchester, the tourist can now comfortably transport himself in three hours from London to the Lyndhurst Road station—the very gate of the New Forest—and this for the moderate outlay of half-a-guinean He can make his way thus to Lymington, and then, crossing the Solent, to Yarmouth, visit the Isle of Wight by this route, or make a circuit through the Forest to Hythe, and thence return by Ferry to Southampton. It will be seen, therefore, that it would be no difficult matter to make a pleasant deviation, and take the Forest in our way, even on a week's trip to the Wight, or on a sojourn at Southampton, and, though with only a rapid survey, a very fair estimate of its beauties may be formed. But to our pleasant duty of description.
This tract of woodland was originally made a forest by William the Conqueror in the year 1079, about a dozen years after the battle of Hastings, and is, indeed, the only forest in England whose origin can be traced. Its distinction of the “ New Forest” arose from it being an addition to the many already possessed by the crown. Within equal limits. perhaps fow parts of England afford a greater variety of beautiful landscape. Its woody scenes, its extended lawns, and vast sweeps of wild country unlimited by artificial boundaries, together with its river views and distant coasts, are all in a measure magnificent. It must still, however, be remembered that its chief characteristic, and what it rests on for distinction, is not sublimity, but sylvan beauty. Alternations of wild and woodland are presented, upon which there is no trace of the hand of man, interspersed with exquisite retreats and highly cultivated patches, making the most delightful contrast with the surrounding wilderness that can possibly be imagined. The question whether William the Conqueror devastated the country, in order to make this district a hunting forest, has been answered by modern historians in the negative; and there seems now every reason to believe that the reports of the Conqueror's cruelty originated with the traditions of the early monks, who had their own motives for endeavouring to traduce his character as a man as well as a monarch.
In form the New Forest is an irregular triangle, of which the three angles are at Calshot Castle on the east; the Black Hill of Rookbourne Down, on the borders of Wilts, on the north-west; and Dunley Chine, within about a inile and a half of Poole Harbour, on the south-east. Its geological appearance is that of the tertiary formation above the chalk, and, as is the case in other parts of England, the formation varies greatly in different places, though within the Forest itself the prevailing soil is sand, or sandy loam, more or less mingled with clay, and, generally speaking, pretty strongly impregnated with iron.
The New Forest horse is quite a study to those who would see the natural development of this useful animal. If not
very beautiful he is at least picturesque, and admirably in unison with the scenes in which he is found. The mane and tail are at all times copious and flowing, and in the winter his coat becomes considerably thicker. The hog is another animal, the breed of which is peculiar to this district. These hogs are generally to be met with in small herds, led on by one patriarchal male. In their native glades, or in the depths of the beechen forests, they are frequently of no inconsiderable beauty; their forms being light and elegant, and their bristles having almost a metallic lustre, which gleams brightly in the straggling rays of the sun among the trees.
To the lover of birds, whether as a sportsman or a naturalist, this is a district of great interest; and, unlike most other places, it is equally interesting at all seasons of the year. In winter the aquatic birds throng to its shores, and resident species flock upon the cultivated fields and rich valleys; in spring, it is the resting-place of many of the migrating tribe, that proceed farther onward to spend the season; in summer it is all song and flutter; and, in autumn, many of the birds which find their way into the country singly, and by stealth, muster their array here before they take their departure for those more tropical climates in which they winter.
At the present time the Forest comprises nearly 64,000 acres, which are the property of the crown, subject to certain manorial rights. The Lord Warden is the chief officer, who is appointed by letters patent under the Great Seal, during the royal pleasure. The subordinate officials are a lieutenant, a bow-bearer, two rangers, a woodward, an under-woodward, four verderers, a high-steward, twelve regardors, nine foresters, and fifteen under-foresters. Of course, these appointments