- County: Hampshire
- Area: Just outside the New Forest – Romsey/North Baddesley
- Distance: 3.3km
- Time: 45mins
- Refreshments: None
- Parking – Numerous options, see below.
Looking for a nice short walk near Romsey and North Baddesley, just outside of the New Forest? Then look no further than this walk! It goes through the two nature reserves of Emer Bog and Baddesley Common, covering over 50 hectares of land. Don’t be put off by the word ‘bog’ being in the name. It is a lovely walk going through lots of different habitats, from wet woodland, wood pasture to grassland and heathland. It used to form the most easterly part of the New Forest, until settlements were built, and the New Forest decreased in size. However, this bit of land still retains the characteristics and beauty of the New Forest.
Kids will love looking for the different animals they might come across, and it’s great for dogs too. Birdwatchers will also enjoy this walk, with lots of chiffchaffs, skylarks, woodcocks and hobbies (small falcons), amongst others to look out for.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust manage the nature reserves. An area of 39 hectares is designated as Baddesley Common biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. An area of 37 hectares is designated Emer Bog Special Area of Conservation.
If you are approaching the walk from the starting point detailed on the map (Green Lane, by Emer Farm, SU388219), then be aware there is only room for about 6 cars. However, I have never had a problem parking there. Alternatively, there is space for a couple of cars at ‘Bucket Corner’ on Pound Lane (SU402214), from where another footpath heads to Emer Bog. Access to Baddesley Common is also possible from a footpath north out of North Baddesley.
The walk can get very muddy in the winter. So, I recommend wellies if doing it after wet weather. Also be aware that there can be ponies and cattle grazing in some of the areas, so dogs will need to be on a lead at certain points.
At the start of the walk, as you go alongside Emer Farm, look out for all sorts of animals. The noises when you get out the car will tell you that they have lots of birds. However, apart from the common hens, peacocks, ducks and geese they also sell rare birds. You might even spot some white Rheas or an Emu. Not only this, but if you look into the distance then you may see some white wallabies. Yes, you read that correctly!
You will then enter Baddesley Common. This is often where there are ponies grazing. However, you may not always see them, as they have a large area to roam in. Entering the alder carr woodland, you will soon reach a timber boardwalk. This has been built to both protect the vegetation and also due to the wet ground in that area. The boardwalk has a grippy metal surface so it is fine to walk on when it’s wet. Carr woodland is what wet woodland is called and is some of the most natural woodland you will find. Hence you can now see why a boardwalk is needed and why the name contains the word ‘bog.’ Wet woodlands have a very interesting ecology and formation. If you would like to read more then I recommend having a look here.
The public footpath runs just on the inside on the wood. Whilst we were walking through woodland, we came across a gentleman from the wildlife trust who was out birdwatching. We got talking to him about chiffchaffs, and how they imitate other birds, which makes it harder to find them. You may also come across adders, slow worms and grass snakes, although I am yet to see any.
Once you have done the circular walk through the woodland, then you are back out onto the heath. You can now simply retrace your path back to the car. Alternatively, if you want to extend your walk, then I would recommend exploring the Baddesley Nature Reserve further, with most of it being open access land.
So, if you are looking for a place to walk near the New Forest, where ponies still roam, but is away from the tourist crowds, then I highly recommend this walk.
If you are looking for another beautiful walk nearby, that is in the New Forest, then check out this walk.