Walk Report - 5th November - Eyeworth Pond

Eyeworth Pond
Given the date, it seemed appropriate for this walk to start from the site where gunpowder and later on, nitrocellulose or guncotton, had been manufactured. The Schultze gunpowder factory, built in the mid 19th century, was sited in this remote spot, presumably to minimise risk from explosions; several were reported. Eyeworth pond was formed by damming the small brook that rises in the valley to the North to create a six million gallon reservoir. (1) This provided the copious amounts of water required during the manufacture of guncotton, to wash wood pulp after its initial treatment with mixtures of nitric and sulphuric acid. The effluent passed into what becomes Latchmoor Brook with predictably dire consequences for wildlife downstream (2)

Schultze Gunpowder Factory - then and now

Little is left of the factory that at one time employed over 100 people and was the world’s largest supplier of sporting gunpowder. Some of the remaining buildings can still be seen and are believed to be  stabling for 40 horses and accommodation. Additionally, the gravel track from where the walk sets off, is known as Powder Mill Road, providing a route for explosives to be taken by horse and cart up onto the Cadnam road (3).

Powder Mill Road

Setting off on a bright calm morning, the pond was mirror calm, disturbed only by numerous pairs of Mallard, a few Moorhen, and a single Little Grebe. Immediately beside the car park, is a favourite spot for photographers who bait the surrounding posts and attract large numbers of woodland birds. Today was no exception and there were frequent visits by Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Robin and Chaffinch. Walking just a few yards north along the track, brings you to the site of the Irons Well or Chalybeate, marked on the OS. Here, a spring rises, rich in iron salts giving the ground a rusty brown appearance. The waters were thought to be a cure for leprosy and later, for curing mange in dogs and at one time there was a hatch where people could drop their unfortunate dogs into the healing waters! Nowadays the spring is simply an enclosed square close by the path.

Walking further along the track a Great Spotted Woodpecker called in the trees lining the path but evaded attention. Crossing over the valley and fording the small brook, that feeds Eyeworth pond, there is a short climb up onto the ridge above the valley where a fairly extensive stand of Holly trees is found. These were attended by Blackbird, Song Thrush and a small contingent of Redwing that proved flighty and difficult to photograph, but eventually patience was rewarded! 

Edge of Eyeworth Wood


Crossing the bridleway you reach the old earth embankments that define Studley Wood, a mixture of predominantly beech and some oak trees looking lovely in the Autumn sunshine. Little is left of Studley Castle, the old Hunting Lodge, aside from some slightly raised earthen banks, but it is a tranquil part of this forest. Walking back down the firebreak towards Eyeworth I heard a tremendous clattering of antlers in the woods and paused to watch, from a respectful distance, two Fallow Buck battering at each other, whilst the does looked on with little interest! Very few fungi were seen aside from some Candle Snuff fungi (Xylaria hypoxylon) on a log. A treecreeper explored an Oak tree, buzzard called overhead and Goldcrest flitted through the holly bushes but again, but all evaded photography!

Candle Snuff Fungus

Mandarin Duck

Returning to the pond, just above the sluice gate at the southern tip, I watched a Kingfisher hover briefly and dive before speeding off with its catch. Several pairs of  Mandarin Duck, for which Eyeworth is known, eventually emerged from the  edge of the pond and showed off in the sunshine. Finally, as I returned to the car, I was delighted to see Robert and Glynis, and again reminded of the pleasure of walking with a group of experts - one day, somehow, we will get back to that! Until then I post a route map and GPX file that can be downloaded by those  wishing to follow the route.


1/ https://newforestguide.uk/history/new-forest-explosives/schultze-gunpowder-factory/

2/ http://newforestcommoner.co.uk/2015/06/01/new-forest-chalybeate-springs-and-aquatic-things/

3/ http://www.newforestexplorersguide.co.uk/heritage/history-in-the-landscape/eyeworth-pond.html

Map / GPX