Few places in England are more resonant, more mysterious yet more friendly than the huge forest that lies by England's southern coast, that provided hunting for England's Saxon and Noman kings, and whose ancient oaks were used to build Nelson's navy. Today, the area is one of the most visited beauty spots in Britain, but the forest has always been busy. In medieval days, the religious houses of Christchurch and Beaulieu were important places; after the Reformation numerous gentry built houses and parks in the forest; the shipbuilding industry turned Lymington into a popular home for naval officers and an eighteenth century spa to rival Bath (Jane Austen lived only twenty-five miles north of the forest). But the character of the forest has always remained ancient and mysterious. Deer, even wild pigs, still roam there as they have since time immemorial. Its place names are Saxon and evocative - Brockenhurst, Hatchet Moor, Godwinescroft. Witchcraft is still, without the slightest question, prevalent within the forest. And the oaks, the great oaks of England, are everywhere to be seen. Forest and sea- there is no more perfect English heartland.