- County: Hampshire
- Nearest Town(s): Ringwood
- National Park: New Forest
- Difficulty: Easy
- Time: 50 minutes
- Height: 104 m
- Map: OS Explorer OL22 New Forest, Southampton, Ringwood, Ferndown, Lymington, Christchurch and Bournemouth (OS Explorer Map)*
I grew up in Ringwood, on the cusp on The New Forest. Until this recent bag, I was convinced that I knew England’s smallest National Park inside and out. I’ve spent a great many hours walking energetic border collies across its lowland heathland and through its leafy forests, only purchasing my first map of the area very recently.
Sadly, I no longer live in the New Forest, but frequent trips to see the dogs (and the family, of course) meant that it was an easy spot for some serious trigbagging (hence the map purchase).
The day we bagged the Bratley Plain trig, I hadn’t been expecting to find a pillar. Off out on an early morning Sunday walk, mum had taken us down to a favourite dog-walking spot – secluded from ‘grockles’ (that’s tourists to you and I), a haunt of ‘serious’ dog types, and with a decent choice of loops depending on how much the dogs needed wearing out.
It’s a walk I’ve taken with her many times, so I was just a tiny bit disappointed that we wouldn’t get a trig point that day. Of course, I mentioned this to her, and she proceeded to inform me, ‘What do you mean – there’s a trig point just up there!’
‘No chance!’ I said, ‘I’d have known if there was a trig point up there – we would have passed it before.’ But mum persisted, and I began to doubt myself. You see, I thought I knew the forest inside out… well she knows the forest inside and out. This was not a discussion I was going to win.
And, lo and behold, she was right! A quick check of the map that I’d optimistically bought along showed a trig pillar symbol I’d missed when searching and highlighting the ones I could find. A short diversion later and Nick spotted it, standing proud in the heathlands by the side of a cycle track.
I hold my hands up mum – as usual – you were right.
The beauty of the New Forest is that there is an abundance of car parks, paths and cycle routes, so there are multiple ways to get to any trig point. This walk-in takes you across lowland heath which is beautiful when the heather is in bloom. Alternative routes include a walk through Milkham Inclosure which can take in an Iron Age Castle Piece, which is well worth doing.
Exit the car park on the left-hand side, walking downhill across heathland (gets boggy after rain – waterproof walking boots are a must). Step across the river at the bottom and head back up the hill on the other side.
Follow the path until you reach the T junction and follow to the right. The path here should be clear by the break in the heather. Follow the path until you reach a crossroads where it intersects with the cycle path (you’ll spot a navigational post here with arrows.)
Take the left and you’ll very shortly see the trig pillar on your right-hand side. Take a picture with it or try and fail to get the dogs to stand on it.
To continue your walk, follow the cycle path alongside the forest. It does come fairly close to the busy A31 at points, but there is a fence to prevent wildlife (and excitable dogs) getting out.
Don’t follow the cycle path into the forest but continue alongside it and keep right for Slufter’s Pond (otherwise known as Dragonfly Pond). It’s a great place for spotting wildlife or for the dogs to cool off.
Once you’re done at the pond, follow your path back through the fork and pick up the small path now on your right. This will take you back onto the main path you took in and lead you back to the car park.
Where to Park
For our walk-in, we parked at the Milkham Inclosure. It’s a well-maintained gravel park which is open most days but is rarely closed for events or to help the land recover. Head to the left-hand side of the car park for this walk-in.
The View from the Pillar
Don’t expect too much of a view from this trig pillar. Whilst it’s better than any side-of-the-road pillars, it’s not particularly high up relevant to its surroundings. To the south and east is the A31 whilst the view to the west is of the Milkham Inclosure.
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