Local geography of the region around Winkton Advanced Landing ground

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In every land there are special places that evokes strong emotions of belonging in people. If you were to try to select a single area that evokes the spirit of the south of England then that area of Hampshire which embraces the valley of the river Avon, and the heaths and forests of the New Forest would be a strong candidate. Under the western edge of the New Forest, on a river terrace at the eastern limit of the river Avon's valley lies the site of the landing ground.

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Views across station 414 in June 1998. The upper photograph is a view across the airfield from the south west part of the airfield across to the Northeast. The other is a view down the length of the east/west runway from the runway intersection towards Bransgore. These photographs are reproduced elsewhere on this site with the details of the wartime airfield superimposed.

Standing at the centre of the old airfield the first impression is of flatness, green fields, some residual heath land and furze (gorse), a stony soil composed of grey and yellow sands and gravels of the Hampshire basin. There are old hedges, sunken roads, crops, fruit growing, some cattle and sheep. Most settlements are villages and hamlets of a few hundred or a few dozen people, old properties, lots of thatched roofs, inns, churches, farms and houses made from stone or more often local red bricks formed by local village industries from the local clay found in the valley. To the north and south are big skies and its only after a few minutes that the impression of flatness recedes as the eye detects first a long ridge delineating the eastern edge of the valley, and then a lesser ridge to the west, with the hump of St Catherine's Hill to the south west.

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Flying down the Avon valley the overall impression is green and gold, grass, fields, reeds, willows, crops. Amongst the green, the silver thread of the River Avon as it meanders gently through its flood plain down to Christchurch harbour and the Royal fisheries. The ancient causeway which crosses the valley, and the network of drains which allow crops to grow on the flood plain are picked out by the green grey clumps of small willow trees along their edges. As the eye turns to the west and the east the scene changes, dark green, browns, sand, of heathland and woodland.

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The ridge to the east is the boundary of the New Forest, a name that causes some little amusement to visitors from other lands as the "New" Forest is over 900 years old. The Forest is a place apart, so very old and unchanging - like a mystical kingdom out of a book by Tolkein, old heathland, broadleaf decidous old woodlands of oak and birch and newer dark sombre plantations of conifers, pine and fir. At the foot of the ridge the villages nestle amongst drifts of woodland and fields. Further out on the valley floor they cluster around churches, mills, big houses and inns that themselves were sighted at the junction of old byways, bridges and fords. Many of the villages here are recorded in the eleventh century Domesday book, the financial audit of his new kingdom set up by King William the First after he seized the throne of England in 1066AD.

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New Forest & Avon Valley        1    2    3

Hampshire    1    2