The countryside that surrounds the village where I live now is all part of the Cadland Estate which stretches between Southampton Water and the Dark Water, south of what is now the Fawley oil refinery and all within the New Forest National Park. I walk that countryside most days, and it was a lifeline during the pandemic lock-downs. We are moving away from here shortly, and it felt important to try to gather some of the images I have made.
That huge area of land is owned by the Drummond Family who were once Scottish nobility, but became bankers after losing their ancestral lands (for backing Bonnie Prince Charlie). They did so well out of lending money to fund the British fight against American independence (bankers always win), that they were able to re-establish themsleves on the shores of the Solent and have now been there for nearly 250 years.
It is a typical English country estate, with the family making money from its land in a variety of ways, from farming and forestry, renting out properties (commercial and private) and catering for leisure needs, from shooting and fishing to glamping. As it is in a National Park, much of the estate is accessible to walkers and riders
New Forest soils are often poor, with sand and gravel just below the surface, so this is no rich farmland, though some areas are good for arable and are harder to access as a result. This creates a rich variety of habitats and landscapes as the Estate has to do much more than grow wheat or even cattle to survive. Like many parts of the New Forest, livestock and ponies are allowed to wander freely.
Large parts of the land are internationally important nature reserves, where people are kept out.
It is a place of big skies and being on your own, especially in the evenings and when it (rarely) snows.
I will miss it.
All photos by Christopher Curtis using Canon 6D and M50 cameras and an iPhoneX.