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The soils of the New Forest in Hampshire, England are
mainly clays and gravels. Whilst much of the ground underfoot remains
muddy or boggy for most of the year, water levels in the rivers rise
and fall rapidly according to the unpredictable weather. There is no
prettier sight than a forest river meandering it's gravelly way through
The protective banks guarantee a wide range of plant and animal life
along the fringes.
Highland Water is perhaps my favourite wayward river. In deep
rich green shadow throughout the summer, the glorious bronzes and
yellows of the autumnal beech give rise to a striking display of bold
pollarded trunks displaying their naked limbs to the blue skies.
Spring breaks this spell in a spectacular fashion with the vivid
yellows and greens of the spurge heralding a complimentary engorement
of colour from the canopy above.
Equally enchanting is the emerald Longwater Lawn. The young
Beaulieu River bursts its flood banks in rare spurts of frenzied
activity only occasionally. The rest of the time it is content to
meander in a relaxed fashion through rich open pasture backed by open
heathland. Countless ponies and cattle graze its sunny banks, but the
most spectacular hope is to catch the red deer as they make their
cautious way down to the river bank at sunset, to dip their velvety
antlers into the lazy river as they drink.