Five new walking routes steeped in history and folklore have been launched by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA).
The routes are the result of years of research and their rich heritage has been brought to life by specially-commissioned reconstruction drawings, dramatisations and folk songs.
All five walks take in established rights of way and are closely connected to residential areas, making them easy for people to access.
Carters Lane, Marchwood: Travel back to a time of large estates and wealthy landowners who supported the community by building schools and churches.
Lepe to Fawley: Learn about the role the New Forest played in D-Day preparations and view the remains of World War Two military installations.
Rockford Common: Discover ancients oaks and wonderful wildlife as you walk through open healthland grazed by free-roaming ponies.
Stuckton Iron Works, Fordingbridge: Journey through a working landscape and learn of heavy industry, riots and smuggling.
Tatchbury Mount: Walk around an Iron Age hillfort and along some of the New Forest’s oldest pathways.
The walks were researched by the NPA’s archaeology team with the help of volunteers during the National Lottery-funded Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme. Historic maps dating back to 1759 were analysed and the team researched 700 current rights of way, in 37 parishes. Almost 260 walking surveys were conducted to whittle the contenders down.
The routes now feature on the NPA’s website, along with old photographs, maps and three dramatisations recorded by professional storytellers. In addition, six folks songs connected to the history on the walks have been produced by Coda Music Trust and researched and performed by Chris Hopgood of The Folk Orc.
NPA archaeologist Gareth Owen said: ‘These walks take you to some beautiful places in the New Forest and along the way you can discover some of the rich history that adds to why the National Park is such a special place.
‘Our volunteers have done an amazing job discovering all this history along these old routes, that are now rights of way.’
Three drawings showing reconstructions of historical events were commissioned to illustrate the walks. They show the riots at Stuckton Iron Works in 1830, a path at Tatchbury in Medieval times and an impression of what the 7th Century hamlet of Hangra may have looked like.
All content can be found on the NPA website, including a leaflet featuring points of interest for each walk: https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/historicroutes