If you go down to Beaulieu’s Mill Pond Walk you’re sure of a big surprise, with the arrival of a larger-than-life woodland sprite which is the latest in a series of mythical tree carvings from ancient folklore.
With pointy ears, a jaunty travelling cape and hand outstretched to greet visitors, this mischievous fellow looks as though he has stepped straight out of a storybook and is a perfectly formed wooden recreation of one of the forest’s most secretive creatures.
The sprite sculpture was skilfully carved by expert wood carver Paul Sivell, using oak from the grounds of Palace House and was commissioned by Lord Montagu as the perfect addition to the delightful Mill Pond Walk. Following the bank of the Beaulieu River and taking in remnants of the old boundary wall of Beaulieu Abbey, this meandering footpath takes in beautiful views, with places to rest, relax and explore.
The carving is in good company, joining Quirky Quercus, the green man of the woods whose name was chosen by Lord Montagu from suggestions by Beaulieu visitors. With his painstakingly sculpted face and beard and supporting a wooden squirrel, black and white woodpecker and red-breasted robin, this ancient character watches over the plants and animals of the river bank.
Also to be seen is a many-headed serpent that stretches out across the Beaulieu River, carved from the boughs of a fallen tree, while a dramatic tree-top griffin marks the start of the Mill Pond Walk and welcomes visitors to the Beaulieu attraction. There are also more magical residents to be seen, with tiny fairy doors which have been hidden in the trees. What creatures might be living behind each of the miniature door creations?
The tree carvings and fairy doors are included in the general admission ticket to Beaulieu, which also includes entry to the National Motor Museum and its collection of more than 250 vehicles, World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House and the picturesque grounds and gardens. Tickets can be bought in advance online. For tickets or more information see www.beaulieu.co.uk or call 01590 612345.