Fordingbridge grew up as a market town on a fording point, and despite being surrounded by so much water, it suffered several devastating fires. It has a magnificent seven-arched stone bridge spanning the River Avon. In the 18th century the town was renowned for its textile industry.
The Path passes down the centre of the town and through St Mary’s churchyard, which has some fine examples of medieval craftsmanship, and then heads south along the west bank of the River Avon before looping away past the small hamlets of Harbridge Green and Turmer.
Now the Path turns east and again crosses the water meadows, which are a conservation area where no fertilizers or pesticides are used. They are a Mecca for naturalists. Continue onwards to the handsome bridge at Ibsley. Nearby is the 14th century thatched Old Beams Restaurant, conveniently placed for a refuelling stop. The Path crosses the main road then leads to Ibsley Manor Farm, returning to the Forest at the village hall where it climbs through paddocks to Summerlug Hill.
The Path turns south through heathland where there are magnificent views of the valley, to Mockbeggar and Moyles Court. Just past the pub at Rockford, named after Alice Lisle, the Path turns off the road onto a bridleway. From here, it leads between the lakes towards Ringwood, following a stream for some of its length. At the end of Kingfisher Lake, the Path leads through an estate and continues under the A31 trunk road into Ringwood.
Ringwood VIC tel 01425 473883
The Old Beams Restaurant tel 01425 473387
Alice Lisle Inn tel 01425 474700
Places of Interest
St.Martin’s Gallery, Ibsley tel 01425 489090.
Ringwood Town and Country Experience, Blashford tel 01425 472746