Bike exploring: The New Forest
Brockenhurst New Forest Loop. Just under 12 miles of easy going forest trails and tarmac. A great all year ride, perfect for families. The route starts and stops in the pretty little town of Brockenhurst.
As we leave winter behind (well, sort of) and enter into a new seasonal cycle, there’s a few things that ‘spring’ to mind... We catch up with GetOutside Champion David Love to find out what he enjoys most about this time of year.
Spring signals longer days, birdsong reaching its peak and the sunshine bringing with it new growth, with buds and fresh crisp leaves bursting through the morning frost. Surely there’s no better time to get outside for a brisk countryside walk.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to stick to a New Year’s resolution - particularly if it’s health or fitness related while we’re still stuck in the depths of winter. It’s all too easy to stay in hibernation-mode, curled up in front of the fire and waiting out those dark wintery days. But from the first day of March, there really is no excuse for putting off the inevitable, and there’s nothing I like more than to experience the magic of Spring first hand by getting out on long country walks at the weekend.
For Spring-time walking, a weekend in the Peak District is hard to beat, with the long ridgeline of Mam Tor being one of my favourite walks in the region. Basing yourself out of Edale will also mean you’ve got Kinder Scout on your doorstep too. If you’re keen on improving your navigation skills, an afternoon spent up high on Kinder’s notoriously featureless plateau is an excellent place to start, if you can find your way across the peat bog that is! For those up for more of a challenge, the Matterhorn-esqué profile of Parkhouse Hill makes for one of the most spectacular walks in the area.
Another of my favourite places to visit during Spring is Snowdonia. We all know Wales is famous for its sheep and there’s nothing that says Spring has arrived more than the bleating of new born lambs. Lambs have been raised in Snowdonia since at least 4,500BC and the lambing season starts in early March. You may even be lucky enough to see one taking its first wobbly steps! The spring equinox is also just around the corner. This is where the amount of daylight is exactly equal to the amount of night, and occurs this year on Friday 20th March. For stargazers, it’s an excellent opportunity to do a wild camp, where you’ll also get the chance to take in the first sunrise marking the true ‘celestial spring’. If heading up towards the end of May, keep an eye out for the Snowdon Lilly - Britain’s rarest flower. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, be sure to take lots of pictures but nothing else – they’re protected by law and need all the help they can get!
The days of autumn comfort food have long gone and hearty root veg soups have been replaced with fresh crisp green salads. Use this time to kick start that healthy eating regime and try to eat as much local produce as you can. When out walking in any of our National Parks, most good pubs will be supporting local farmers and offer some truly tasty plates. Some of my favourite spring-time greens include crisp asparagus, crunchy red radishes, purple sprouting broccoli and steaming Jersey royal new potatoes, crushed with thyme and olive oil. But don’t forget to leave a little room for rhubarb crumble. Ok, not so healthy, but entirely deserved after a long walk in the hills!
David Love is an adventurer, mountaineer and expedition leader. He's also an Officer in the British Army and instructor with the Bear Grylls Survival Academy.
At the age of 18, David made a solo, unguided ascent of Mt Blanc, cementing his love for adventure. He has since gone on to climb some of the world’s most iconic peaks, including the Matterhorn and the Eiger. In 2017, he made the first recorded solo, winter traverse of the Transylvanian Alps; a journey that involved permeant sub-zero temperatures, several nights in an emergency snow hole and a very close encounter with a mountain bear!
But his true passion is rooted in the hills and mountains of the Great Britain, where he spends much of his time working with young people with the aim of inspiring the next generation to discover their own spirit of adventure.
Find out more about David here.