I live in the New Forest UK National Park and it is a stunningly beautiful place, but I hadn’t realised that it can also be a potentially quite dangerous landscape too. There are bogs and mires throughout the New Forest – the ponies and other animals are clever enough to mainly avoid them. We were not, as we nearly found out to our cost this weekend.
A tabloid may have described our weekend walk as “A New Forest bog ate my son!” especially if a celebrity
was involved. However, although we didn’t have the latest front page celebrity from a glossy magazine in our midst, we did end up quite scared – once we’d stopped falling about laughing.
We set off on our walk across the heathland with my son a strapping 28yr old, six foot two chap, his friend Micheal, my husband and our lovely dog.
We headed down into a deep valley and spent quite a lot of time watching the New Forest ponies and cows enjoying the day in these beautiful surroundings. The stream which ran through the valley was very shallow, but occasionally the dog could have a little swim. We hopped about and took some lovely photos of turquoise, iridescent damsel flies.
We also found the Sundew plant which is a carnivorous bog plant found in the New Forest which is very like the Venus Fly Trap. It lives by the side of a brook and devours any insect which lands on it.
Thank heaven we didn’t walk near a six foot Sundew plant or my poor son might have been a tasty meal!
Along we ambled and my son was in front of Micheal and myself, just a few feet away. We could see we were coming up to a bog patch as the land was draining into the brook ahead of us. The crossing was only about three feet and we all knew we could easily just hop across it.
My son hopped over first, and Micheal and I took no notice of what happened next as we were too busy chatting.
Before our eyes he just dropped at least 3 feet into this quite innocent looking New Forest bog – up to his waist in fetid, brown, bog goo.
The shock was tremendous – he later said he felt like Dawn French in a comedy sketch we once saw. He literally was sucked into mud and water up to his groin!
Micheal and I, once we got used to not seeing him at our eye height, absolutely fell about. Here was this squirming six footer at our feet trying to get out of a bog! I don’t think we could really take it in, and as he is always mucking about, we thought it was some kind of a joke – well if it wasn’t you in the bog it was hilarious!
He flayed about and managed to drag himself out onto the edge of the bog and then the next part of our New Forest bog adventure started – the awful smell. He had obviously disturbed hundreds of years of bogland silt, peat and rotting debris and most of it was stuck to his jeans and wellies – we didn’t know a walk in the New Forest meant donning deep sea waders.
He had a token strand of long grass hanging off each wellie and was totally coated in a thick, pungent, brown bog goo. He stunk! We made our way back to the car and had to turn the dog out of the boot as there was only one place for this New Forest bog man to ride and that was in the boot!
Once we got home he was hosed down in the garden and felt much better after a hot shower (the second of the day).
We all eventually stopped laughing and when we had time to reflect we realised just how dangerous the New Forest bog walk could have been. There was no indication the ground was so unsafe, or that someone would slip so quickly to such a depth.
Earlier in the week I’d been to the New Forest Show and spoken to Hants Fire & Rescue staff who had shown me photos of some of the rescues they get up to. They said that generally the New Forest ponies and cows and other animals are pretty aware of where the dangerous bog or mire areas are on the New Forest, and usually manage to avoid them safely.
So, if you are out and about in the New Forest, please take care. Luckily we all lived to look back and laugh at it – this time.